MEA submits input to Governor’s school finance workgroup

EAST LANSING, Mich., Oct. 16, 2012 – Answering the call for input on education funding reform by the Governor’s Oxford Foundation school finance workgroup, MEA has submitted a comprehensive set of research-based recommendations for how to properly fund an effective public education system in Michigan.                                              

“Improving the quality of education and creating a stable, adequate and equitable funding process to deliver a first class education is a daunting task, but one MEA is committed to undertaking,” said MEA President Steven Cook. “We hope Governor Snyder and his advisors view these recommendations as a first step to working together on these critical issues.”

While the Governor has not released details of his plan yet, there are a number of concepts included in his “Special Message on Education Reform” from last year.  “Many of those concepts are ones on which the MEA and the Governor may find common ground,” Cook said.                                                                                                                                    

Since that message last spring and with greater vigor following the Governor’s announcement of a workgroup on school finance issues, MEA has been discussing research-based ideas and policy options with teachers, parents and education industry experts.

“In addition to exchanging ideas with those important stakeholders, MEA staff conducted an exhaustive study of the latest available research on what works in the classroom, as well as in the budget,” Cook said.  “MEA used a data driven approach to lay out our vision of what education reform should look like.”

Yesterday, MEA shared the results of its discussions and research with the Oxford Foundation group that is assisting the Governor with education funding reform. Among the recommendations MEA provided are:

  1. Expand preschool programs to all at-risk two-, three- and four-year-olds.
  2. Expand our current K-12 system to a Pre-K-14 education system, providing all Michigan students with the opportunity to earn a post-secondary degree or vocational credential.
  3. Fully fund the education of special needs students.
  4. Take advantage of the growing number of education delivery systems, including blended online learning.
  5. Provide all at-risk students the opportunity for high quality year-round academic programs.

“In addition to reform efforts to improve the delivery of education for all Michigan students, devising funding mechanisms that will support improved educations programs is critical,” said Cook.

“MEA believes any discussion of school funding should begin with the restoration of the $1 billion cut from K-12 schools in 2010.  That cut has cost each classroom in the state approximately $16,000 per year in each of the last two years.”

Additional funding proposals to support public education include collection of sales and use taxes owed on purchases made online and through catalogs, and an expansion of the current sales tax to a number of services currently exempted from paying sales taxes.

“As the Governor stated in announcing his plans to reform education and education financing, ‘Change does not have to create adversaries; it can create partners committed to a better future.’ The Michigan Education Association welcomes the opportunity to partner with the Governor in creating that better future for the students, parents and teachers of our state,” Cook said.   

Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-337-5566