New budget proposal no real investment in education

Gov. Snyder presented his 2013 budget today, but while schools will see more money--there are strings attached. And it still isn't enough of a boost to make up for the $1 billion cut schools saw last year.

In a news release today, MEA President Steve Cook said, "Putting a fraction of that $1 billion back into schools doesn't fix the problems that such a massive cut caused last year--it only continues to enrich the corporate special interests who benefitted from the $1.8 billion tax cut that the education cuts enabled."

The 3 percent increase translates into approximately $200 more per pupil. Other budget highlights include:

  • Approximately $200 million additional money will be shared by districts engaged in best practices and meeting performance metrics.
  • Like last year, to qualify for additional money--$75 per pupil—districts must meet five of six best practices. Participating in schools of choice is an added new practice this year.
  • Schools that show student growth in math and reading in grades 3-8 are eligible for a share of $42 million. High school students scoring above the statewide average in proficiency will earn their schools some of the $28 million set aside for that purpose.
  • The budget sets aside $10 million for districts involved in consolidation efforts.

After seeing a 15 percent cut to their funding last year, community colleges and universities will see a 3 percent increase—but they too will have to meet certain criteria. For community colleges, their funding will depend on degrees and certification completed in critical skill areas. For universities, growth in undergrad degrees in academic and critical areas, the number of Pell Grant recipients and tuition restraints will determine their funding level.

Finally, the Governor is offering $179 million to sustain the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) so “money can be kept in the classroom.”

Don’t let what appears to be a funding boost fool you. With the coming expansion of for-profit charter and cyber schools, the only ones benefitting from a funding increase will be corporations running those programs at the expense of traditional public schools. Last year, corporations enjoyed a $1.8 billion tax cut.  Recent legislation and this new budget won’t hurt the CEOs and it won’t help kids or public education. Only a full restoration of school funding for our students will change that scenario.