School districts in Michigan don’t have a lot of say on their finances, according to a new study from Michigan State University. Major areas cited in the research are declining enrollment, higher shares of special education students and drops in state funding — which, the study notes, policy makers control. These have made the difficulties in Michigan’s low-income urban districts like Detroit even worse, according to David Arsen, professor of education policy in the MSU College of Education.
The recently released school finance “adequacy study” commissioned by the Michigan Legislature is a credible and overdue effort to frame a critically important public policy discussion. Citizens and lawmakers should embrace this opportunity to think about our collective financial commitment to educating Michigan’s kids.
Prepared by an experienced Colorado consulting firm, Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, the study estimates the cost of providing an adequate education for the typical student, as well as the additional cost of educating students who confront disadvantages over which they have little control.
A Bridge Magazine analysis concludes that Michigan would need to pony up at least $1.4 billion more for its public schools annually to meet recommendations made in a recently released study.
And even that may not notably improve learning.
Those are among the new revelations in a watershed report that attempts to quantify the minimum amount the state must spend to provide an adequate education to Michigan students. The study had long been sought by school reform advocates and Democratic legislators, who hailed its June 29 release as lending empirical proof of what’s needed, financially at least, to boost the state’s struggling schools.