Public discussions opened today on how Michigan pays for schools. Governor Rick Snyder has asked a workgroup to come up with an overhaul of the state funding system – a plan that focuses less on per-student funding and more on proficiency.
The workgroup’s first hearing included suggestions from the audience on what Michigan’s education system should look like.
Erin Carey Schor, with the Michigan Community Colleges Association, says Michigan needs a plan for lifelong learning.
“The average age of a community college student is26, and right now we know what the numbers look like and what we need to do to get our workforce ready for those jobs that are going to be there in 10 or 20 years, so I challenge us not to just think about kids, but about adult education and literacy and workforce training,” Carey Schor says.
The workgroup will revamp the state’s 30-year-old school aid act. It will also revisit key aspects of the Proposal A school funding reforms.
The state’s education chief says money community colleges needs to be part of fixing Michigan’s school funding system. Mike Flanagan, the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction, says every student should also be guaranteed a year or two of community college or its equivalent.
Flanagan also says the state can’t achieve a system that rewards proficiency without offering universal early childhood learning programs.
“We spend a billion dollars per grade, and we spend nothing on early childhood and we wonder why the results are exactly the same,” he says. “And we blame the teachers. We blame the state superintendent. We blame the parent for not reading to them enough. And the bottom line is we should blame the system first and foremost.”
The school funding workgroup will spend the summer working n its recommendations. Governor Snyder has asked for the recommendations to be done in time to include in his budget proposal next year.