Supt. Whiston Calls for Action on State Education Funding Study

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

August 9, 2016

LANSING – State Superintendent Brian Whiston today called for legislative action to help improve the funding needs for Michigan schools.

A state-funded Education Finance Study was released in June by the research firm, Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA), which presented its findings to the State Board of Education today.

“This is a great starting point,” Whiston said. “The study offers some tremendous value, in that it highlights really important needs that policymakers in Michigan must recognize and act upon.”

Whiston noted that the funding study showed the disparity in funding between school districts in Michigan, as well as the effects of poverty on a child’s education and the need to invest more specifically to help low-income children and English language learners.

The high-achieving academic state Massachusetts began investing heavily in education over a decade ago and has seen the positive outcomes for its students, and like Massachusetts, Michigan needs to invest more in education – accompanied with significant changes to the education system, Whiston said.

“We can’t just pour more money into the current way of doing things,” Whiston said. “We can invest more generously into our education system, and in exchange, build a better system that offers a longer school year; more learning opportunities for students; more targeted professional development for educators; and needed wraparound services for English language learners and children in poverty.”

The Michigan Department of Education is moving forward on the statewide initiative to make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years, in collaboration with the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission. Whiston and State Board of Education members John C. Austin and Eileen Weiser are appointed members to the 21st Century Education Commission.

“We do want to recognize the good work of the Governor and legislature in reducing the disparity in school funding by continuing the 2x funding formula, and for their work to address school employee retirement costs through reforms and financial support,” Whiston said.

“The state legislature and the Governor are important partners, obviously, as we all work together to make Michigan a Top 10 performing state,” Whiston said.  “This Education Funding Study is a foundational piece in this collective mission.”