Michigan Association of School Administrators

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David Arson's open letter to Governor Rick Snyder challenges thinking on school funding

An open letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appearing in the latest edition of New Educator, the magazine of Michigan State University’s College of Education questions the Governor's ideas on education funding.

From David Arson's open letter to Governor Snyder:

  “The Oxford funding proposal and HB 5923 represent a truly dramatic strategy to shift the provision of Michigan’s educational services outside locally-governed school districts. They would establish the closest approximation to a universal statewide voucher system ever implemented in the United States."...

"As a school finance specialist, I’m surprised to see a statewide plan that completely ignores equity and adequacy. Proposal A narrowed but did not eliminate funding inequalities among districts. Adequacy, however, requires that district revenues match the costs of producing outcomes expected by the state. We rate poorly on this standard. Part of the problem is the collapse of revenues already noted. I focus here, however, on the mismatch between state revenues and local costs. Since the state controls operational funding for all Michigan districts and charter schools, these problems could be solved."...

"The Oxford proposal drafters don’t know much about teaching and learning. They appear unaware that effective schools establish cohesive cultures that inspire and coordinate the efforts of all educators and students. Otherwise they would recognize that a plan to encourage students to come and go as they please, without their school’s consent, could undermine outcomes for choosers and non-choosers alike."...

"...the Oxford funding proposal and HB 5923 fail to solve the actual problems facing Michigan schools. Instead they would worsen those problems and create a host of new ones. While claiming to advance a plan for globally competitive schools, the drafters propose a set of policies found in no high-performing nation’s educational system. While claiming to advance a modern 21st Century system to replace the old “factory” model of schooling, they in fact offer a plan based on the grim principles of 19th Century piece work production that relied not on collaboration but rather on the coercive measurement of individual effort. The proposals are not based on empirical evidence of what works but rather on faith."...