Opinion: Closing skills gap must be top priority in Michigan

As superintendent of Wayne RESA, I see firsthand the skills gap that continues to separate Michigan’s students from good-paying jobs in competitive fields.

Through no fault of their own, students here in Wayne County and across Michigan continue falling behind, causing them to lose out on opportunities to their peers in other states and around the globe.

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PRESS RELEASE: Michigan business, education leaders weigh in on House K-12 budget

LANSING, Mich. — The following are statements from Michigan business and education leaders who serve on the School Finance Research Collaborative reacting to today’s House School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee approval of a 2020 school budget plan.

Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, SFRC Project Director

“It’s time for a new school funding method that provides all students the same opportunity to receive a high-quality education and compete for jobs. The School Finance Research Collaborative has provided the roadmap to fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach to serve all students, regardless of zip code, income, learning challenges or other circumstances. I encourage the Legislature to support Gov. Whitmer’s school funding plan, which supports the Collaborative’s research and provides the building blocks for student success.”

Doug Maibach, Barton Malow Enterprises chairman

“Michigan businesses rely on our public schools to provide students with the skills needed to fill thousands of unfilled jobs across our state. I encourage the Legislature to support Gov. Whitmer’s school funding proposal, which includes additional funding for Career and Technical Education programs that provide the foundation for successful careers in the skilled trades.”

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The School Finance Research Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded. Read the full Collaborative report.

For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: SFRC calls on governor, lawmakers to work together to fix broken school funding method

LANSING, Mich. —  The School Finance Research Collaborative today called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature to work together to fix Michigan’s broken school funding method to make it fair for all students.

“Now is the time for Gov. Whitmer and the Legislature to come together and fix Michigan’s obsolete school funding approach to meet the unique, individual learning needs of all students, regardless of income, zip code, learning challenges or other circumstances,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director. “Michigan’s students continue falling behind, and the governor and lawmakers must adopt a new, fairer school funding plan that helps all kids succeed.”

In 2018, the School Finance Research Collaborative completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study that determined the true cost of educating all students to make the way we fund schools more fair. The final Collaborative report provides a base cost for student achievement in Michigan, with additional funding considerations for special education, English Language Learners, Career and Technical Education programs and students living in poverty. The Collaborative is a diverse, bipartisan group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to fix Michigan’s broken school funding approach.

Gov. Whitmer’s 2020 budget proposal supports the School Finance Research Collaborative’s research, including a weighted formula for special education, low-income and at-risk children, and Career and Technical Education programs. The governor’s budget proposal is a significant step forward in helping all kids succeed.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: West Michigan Talent Triangle announces support for Gov. Whitmer’s 2020 education budget

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The West Michigan Talent Triangle supports Gov. Whitmer’s 2020 education budget, which incorporates the School Finance Research Collaborative  findings to help all students achieve and succeed.

“The West Michigan Talent Triangle supports Gov. Whitmer’s school funding plan, which uses nationally recognized research to make key investments so all students have the opportunity to get a high-quality education and compete for the jobs of the future,” said Tom TenBrink, superintendent of Jenison Public Schools. “The governor’s budget proposal also makes progress on ending the shell games played with the School Aid Fund by removing university funding. The voters were explicit in their intent to have the School Aid Fund used for K-12 education. We look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to put it into action.”

If passed, the governor’s budget would create a weighted formula to improve classroom resources for:

  • Special education needs
  • Low-income and at-risk children
  • Career and Technical Education programs

The West Michigan Talent Triangle is an education advocacy organization representing Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa Area ISDs and their 42 member school districts.

In 2018, the School Finance Research Collaborative completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study that determined the true cost of educating all students to make the way we fund schools more fair. The Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

The final Collaborative report provides a base cost for student achievement in Michigan, with additional funding considerations for special education, English Language Learners, Career and Technical Education programs, students living in poverty, preschool, geographic isolation, district size, cost of living differences and student transportation.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: SFRC congratulates Dr. Michael Rice as Michigan’s new Superintendent of Schools

LANSING, Mich. — The School Finance Research Collaborative today congratulated Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice for being named Michigan Superintendent of Schools. As a Collaborative member, Rice has helped provide the roadmap for a new, fairer school funding approach that serves all students.

“Dr. Rice has played an important role in the Collaborative’s efforts to fix Michigan’s broken school funding approach and make it fair for all students, and we congratulate him on his new role as the head of our public schools,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Collaborative Project Director. “With Dr. Rice at the helm, Michigan is taking a giant step forward in meeting the unique, individual needs of all students, regardless of zip code, income, learning challenges or other circumstances.”

Dr. Randy Liepa, Wayne RESA superintendent and a Collaborative member, was also a finalist for the position.

The Michigan Board of Education on Tuesday selected Rice to serve as Superintendent of Schools, replacing the late Brian Whiston as the state’s chief public schools official. Rice has led Kalamazoo Public Schools since 2007, overseeing enrollment growth, improved student achievement and increased graduation rates in his district.

The Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded. The Collaborative has provided Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study that determined the true cost of educating a child and making the way we fund our schools more fair.

The final Collaborative report provides a base cost for student achievement in Michigan, with additional funding considerations for special education, English Language Learners, Career and Technical Education programs, students living in poverty, preschool, geographic isolation, district size, cost of living differences and student transportation.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: School funding group honored with 2019 Friend of Education Award

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The School Finance Research Collaborative on Wednesday was honored with the Michigan School Business Officials’ (MSBO) 2019 Friend of Education Award, given to people or organizations dedicated to serving  the best interests of education and students.

“The School Finance Research Collaborative is truly honored to accept the MSBO’s Friend of Education award as we continue our mission to fix Michigan’s broken school funding approach and provide an adequate and equitable education to all students,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Collaborative Project Director, who accepted the award at the MSBO’s annual conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. “We look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer and lawmakers from both parties to create a new school funding method that helps all students achieve and succeed, no matter their circumstances.”

The MSBO Board of Directors selects Friend of Education recipients based on their outstanding support of education in Michigan and dedication to serving the best interests of education and students.

“We are proud to recognize the School Finance Research Collaborative as a Friend of Education as it continues to support a school funding system that serves the unique needs all students,” said Mike Hagerty, MSBO Board President and Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services. “The Collaborative has provided the roadmap for a new school funding approach that helps all students achieve and succeed.”

The MSBO was founded in 1937 as a nonprofit corporation to serve the multifaceted interests of education.

In 2018, the School Finance Research Collaborative completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study that determined the true cost of educating all students to make the way we fund schools more fair. The Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

The final Collaborative report provides a base cost for student achievement in Michigan, with additional funding considerations for special education, English Language Learners, Career and Technical Education programs, students living in poverty, preschool, geographic isolation, district size, cost of living differences and student transportation.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: Michigan business, education leaders respond to Senate K-12 budget

LANSING, Mich.  — The following are statements from Michigan business and education leaders who serve on the School Finance Research Collaborative reacting to today’s Senate K-12 and Education Appropriations Subcommittee approval of a 2020 school budget plan.

Dr. Randy Liepa, Wayne RESA superintendent

“The state Senate’s K-12 budget represents a missed opportunity to begin fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach and give all students the same opportunity to get a solid education and compete for jobs. I encourage lawmakers from both parties to support the School Finance Research Collaborative research, which makes clear that it’s time for a new approach that helps all students achieve and succeed.”

Doug Maibach, Barton Malow Enterprises chairman

“It’s time to close Michigan’s talent gap, and I encourage the Legislature to support Gov. Whitmer’s weighted funding approach that includes additional resources for Career and Technical Education programs that provide students with skills necessary to compete for in-demand jobs. The governor’s plan also provides additional resources to help prepare low-income and at-risk students for 21st century careers, providing all students the same opportunity to compete for good-paying jobs.”

Jim Stapleton, Detroit-area businessman

“Our state’s K-12 school funding approach is broken, and it’s hampering our state’s continued economic resurgence, as well as our children’s futures. Time has long since passed for this subject to be addressed and I urge legislators on both sides of the aisle to support Gov. Whitmer’s 2020 school aid budget. This is not a partisan or political issue. From Ishpeming to Detroit, the need for a fairer approach to this important topic could not be clearer.”

Rob Fowler, Small Business Association of Michigan CEO

“Michigan businesses rely on our public schools to provide students with the skills needed to fill jobs across the state, and I encourage the Legislature to support a weighted funding system that serves the needs of all students. Michigan needs a new, fairer school funding approach that helps prepare all students for success, including those bound for technical school, apprenticeships or jobs right after graduation.”

Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark, Newaygo County RESA superintendent

“I encourage the Legislature to pass a 2020 school aid budget that serves the unique, individual learning needs of all students, regardless of where they attend school, income, learning challenges or other circumstances. The School Finance Research Collaborative has provided lawmakers with the roadmap to fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach. Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its part and pass a budget that helps all students achieve and succeed.”

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded. Read the full Collaborative report.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: Collaborative discusses need for school funding equity at MI Civil Rights Commission hearing

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The School Finance Research Collaborative on Monday addressed the need for a new, equitable school funding approach that serves the needs of all students at a Michigan Civil Rights Commission hearing in Clinton Township. The Collaborative discussed its roadmap for a fairer school funding method as part of the commission’s hearing on addressing discrimination in Michigan’s K-12 schools.

“Michigan’s school funding method is broken, and Monday’s Civil Rights Commission hearing was the perfect venue to discuss the need for a new, fairer method that ensures all students have the same opportunity to get a good education, including students enrolled in special education or living in poverty,” said Dr. Michael Addonizio, a Wayne State University professor of education studies and Collaborative member, who spoke at the hearing. “Michigan’s one-size-fits-all approach fails to meet the needs of far too many students, especially those who live in our poorest communities. Now is the time to address the unique, individual needs of all students to provide the opportunities for college and careers they deserve.”

In 2018, the School Finance Research Collaborative completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study, providing a roadmap to fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach and making it fair for all students. The Collaborative is a bipartisan, diverse group of business leaders and education experts from all corners of Michigan who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

Michigan State University College of Education professor David Arsen, who has completed his own, independent school funding research, also attended Monday’s hearing. Arsen’s recent study supports the Collaborative’s findings that it costs a minimum $9,590 to educate a child in Michigan, and that additional funding is needed for students living in poverty, English Language Learners and students enrolled in special education.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer utilized the Collaborative’s findings in her recent budget proposal, including a weighted funding approach that serves the needs of all students.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

PRESS RELEASE: School finance group applauds Gov. Whitmer’s plan to help all students succeed

LANSING, Mich. — The School Finance Research Collaborative today applauded Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for calling for a new school funding approach that will help meet the unique needs of all Michigan students.

“We applaud Gov. Whitmer for calling for a new, fairer school funding approach that will help meet the needs of all Michigan students,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director. “We look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer on a new funding method that provides all students the same opportunity to get a high-quality education and compete for jobs.”

Whitmer’s education budget plan calls for a boost in per-pupil funding, and additional funding for special education, at-risk students and Career and Technical Education programs.

“I applaud Gov. Whitmer’s call for a new school funding approach, including greater funding for Career and Technical Education programs,” said Doug Maibach, Chairman of Barton Malow Enterprises, and a School Finance Research Collaborative member. “It’s time for a new, fairer school funding approach that helps us fill Michigan’s talent gap.”

“I support Gov. Whitmer’s call for a new school funding approach that helps prepare all students for the modern workforce,” said Jim Stapleton, a Detroit-area businessman and School Finance Research Collaborative member. “Michigan is long overdue for a new school funding approach that helps provide students with in-demand skills for good-paying jobs. That is a concept everyone, irrespective of party affiliation, can and should support.”

In 2018, the School Finance Research Collaborative completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study that determined the true cost of educating all students to make the way we fund Michigan’s schools more fair. The Collaborative is a bipartisan, diverse group of business leaders and education experts from all corners of Michigan who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

“School funding is not a Republican issue or Democratic issue,” said Rick Johnson, former Michigan House Speaker, and a School Finance Research Collaborative member. “It’s a Michigan issue, and I applaud Gov. Whitmer for laying the groundwork for a new approach that helps all students achieve and succeed.”

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1

STATEMENT: Gov. Whitmer highlights need for new, fairer school funding approach in State of the State

LANSING, Mich.  — The following is a statement from Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director:

“I applaud Gov. Whitmer for recognizing the need for a new, fairer school funding approach that meets the unique, individual and wide-ranging learning needs of all students in tonight’s State of the State address,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, School Finance Research Collaborative Project Director. “Using Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study as a roadmap, we look forward to working with the governor as we chart a new path toward fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach, ensuring every Michigan student has the same opportunity at getting a good education and competing for 21st century jobs.”

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded. Read the full Collaborative report.

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For media inquiries, contact Christopher Behnan, Byrum & Fisk Communications, at (517) 333-1606, ext. 1