The Detroit Free Press’ March 22nd guest column co-authored by Utica Superintendent Christine Johns and Livonia Superintendent Randy Liepa on their proposed “Classrooms and Kids” budget plan is propaganda that will devastate at-risk and underserved kids.
History lesson: In 2009, Michigan school districts were given carte blanche by the Michigan Department of Education to shift one-time federal stimulus funds (“American Recovery Reinvestment Act”) appropriated to “special education” and use 50-percent to balance their general education budgets on the backs of the students with disabilities and IEPs. Now we want to give these administrators permission to control one bigger bucket that includes the “at-risk” 31a funds?
At-risk funds are appropriated for students who qualify for free breakfast, milk or lunch under federal law. They are students who are the victim of child abuse or neglect; below grade level in English Language, communication skills or math; a pregnant teenager or teenage parent who is eligible for the free or reduced lunch; has atypical behavior or attendance patterns; or a family history of school failure, incarceration or substance abuse. These are children living in poverty, homelessness and often with only one parent. One out of four is going hungry.
Now, the Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Boards, Tri-county Alliance; along with local school boards and ISDs are proposing to balance their general education/per-pupil allowance on the backs of our state’s most neglected and underserved students and many also receiving subpar special education programs and services?
No thank you!
Michiganders need to take a deep breath and then elect a governor and legislators who will legislate a thoughtful school district consolidation plan. With 532 traditional school districts, another 500 charters (2/3rd privatized), 57 Intermediate School Districts and the renegade EAA; we simply have too many school districts. Too many administrators; too many administration building; too much in utilities and this would be true if we were the wealthiest state in America. We are inefficient in our delivery of public education to EVERY child. Further, the 57 ISDs have worn out their welcome and are cash cows, and the Classrooms and Kids Budget gives them a $2 million dollar raise. No way!
Say no to the Classrooms and Kids Budget and demand a statewide conversation on restructuring and rebuilding a 21st century public education for EVERY MI child.