On Tuesday in Kentwood, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the 2021-22 K-12 education budget, which invests a record $17.1 billion in schools and equalizes the state’s foundation grant funding for districts at $8,700 per pupil.
MEA President Paula Herbart joined Whitmer at the press conference announcing the signing. See her remarks in this WLNS news coverage of the event (at 24-minute mark) or read below:
Hello, I am Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association and a proud 20-year veteran music educator from Fraser Middle School.
The school funding bill signed today by Gov. Whitmer represents a transformational investment in public education for our students and our educators.
Aside from being the largest funding increase in decades, the per pupil foundation grant at $8,700 and equalizing the amount for students across the state is a huge step. It makes good on the promise 27 years ago – the beginning of my career by the way, of Proposal A – a promise finally delivered on by this governor and this legislature.
This education budget includes a significant funding increase for the Great Start Readiness Program which will enable an additional 22,000 at risk students to access high quality preschool programs. This is truly a great start but we must continue to expand the GSRP until every pre schooler who’s identified as ‘at risk’ has the opportunity to get a jump start on their education.
I’m also extremely pleased that the legislature and the governor agreed to allocate $240 million to fund the hiring of school counselors, nurses, social workers and psychologists—staffing that is desperately needed to help students with social/emotional and mental health issues coming out of the pandemic.
While this public education budget is a big step in the right direction for school funding, it is by no means the end to the fight for adequate and equitable funding for K-12 students. It’s just one step in the right direction. After decades of inequity and dramatic underfunding for public education, one fiscal year budget will not fix all of the problems that years of disinvestment has brought on our students, our educators and our communities.
However, between this budget and the recently allocated American Rescue Plan funding, we are making progress: improvements to aging infrastructure in many school buildings across the state, updated technology and materials to help students learn post pandemic, and funding to target our most immediate problem facing our schools today: a severe and dire shortage of educators to help our students achieve their fullest potential.
These investments will show our communities what’s possible for our students when we fund their education appropriately – so we can make the case in the long run to fix our broken school funding system.
That’s why I’m proud to stand here with Gov. Whitmer and congratulate her and the legislature for getting the job done for our schools, our students and our educators across the state.
For more information about federal and state funding levels, visit www.mea.org/fundingmaps.
NOTE: The 2021-22 state budget for universities and community colleges has not yet been passed by the Legislature.