Public Education Finance Act

Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace

Project Questions and Community Responses

(Updated January 18, 2013)

The Michigan Education Finance Project is seeking input from education groups, parents and the public to help move the process forward creating solutions to change the way public schools are financed. We are looking specifically at a key component of Governor Snyder’s special message on education:

  • Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace public school learning model.
  • Performance-based funding rather than seat time requirements.

Below are the answers, comments, and suggestions that we have received to date. Additional proposals and recommendations are posted under updates.

Elizabeth A. Wolocko, September 20, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: Safeguards are set in a “perfect” world. All playing fields should be equal. Quality materials, safe places conducive to learning; quality science labs; administrative fairness; parents active in their children’s schools.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: No more than 25% of funding should be based on student performance until all other variables are equal. The children in Detroit, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, etc. should have the same facilities and opportunities as those children in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills. They should come to school well fed, rested and ready to learn.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: I have a master’s degree and really don’t understand this question. Extra help in the classroom to accommodate the paperwork to justify results. Programs that work (Reading Recovery, etc.) to help those children falling behind. Help with that 1% (gifted) that are frustrated and bored by an aged based classroom. Those children on both sides of the bell curve are greatly underserved. I also believe the school day is too long for some students and homework in elementary school is more punishment than help. After six hours or more in school, a child should not have to take school home with him (unless he/she is so enthused about something and wants to spend more time on it).

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: Every student is important. If performance funding is the goal, every student should show some level of progress. Should and could every student meet state standards? There are plenty of children who do not test well. Perhaps our legislators should be given the upper elementary MEAP to see how well they do in core subjects before expecting the same from children. I would find the results fascinating.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: In the perfect world we would all be proficient in core subjects. Unfortunately almost half of Americans read at the sixth grade level or below. We should strive for proficiency but be pleased with progress.

Additional Comments: 25 children; 25 different ages in a classroom; 25 different ability levels. All are to progress at the same pace and arrive at the same place (testing) at the same time. Do teachers teach to the “middle” hoping everyone moves upward? How and when do teachers have the time to develop individual lessons to address individual needs? How do you assess this? I feel teachers are pretesting and posttesting with very little time for teaching and planning. How do you quantitatively measure progress? Whose standards? Teachers are being asked to do so much more with so much less. I would hope the very people who are so against these “overpaid babysitters” spend a few days in a classroom volunteering. Walk in my shoes … you are welcome anytime.

Alison Kenyon, September 20, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

Additional Comments: I am the mother of gifted children. I did not know this until my middle child, age 5, entered public kindergarten only to a wild man who could not sit still, could not positively engage with classmates and eventually became so depressed that he stopped changing into clothes, stopped getting out of bed and then stopped eating. Our days began with ‘is it Saturday?’ (no) ‘how many days till Saturday (x) ‘uhhh! don’t make me go!’ I was despondent and yet the public school teachers told me things like, ‘don’t worry. We will get there.’ To this day, I am not sure what that meant but I called a couple of gifted schools and psychologists and they all said the same thing – that his schooling experiences were not meeting his needs and he was shutting down. This same child, when given an appropriate education that we cannot afford – he is now happy, communicative, involved, curious and thriving. I almost had him labeled special ed and that, my good people, is sad. What he needs is an appropriate education. Please allot resources to gifted children. They are not better than anyone else but they can fail more fantastically than the average child.

Jeff Leonardt, September 20, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: What does this mean? How is a parent or community member supposed to respond to this question? I am a well-educated informed member of my community in leadership positions and this question is jargon. I don’t even understand what it is asking me. In schools we are talking about children. You know that right? Kids..people still forming who they are. That is the qualitative aspect of children. They are not finished. We can’t evaluate their qualitative aspects just yet. There is too much out of their control to base funding on their qualitative aspects.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: I didn’t know we were transitioning? When was this decision made? I thought this organization was looking for input before a decision was made. It seems like like this question is asking me what I think after the fact. Are simply asking to okay something I never agreed to in the first place? Very little should be based on performance. They are kids. How far down into someones life do you want to reach and base it on performance? They are learning. Have this group looked at the Finnish Model at all?

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: I think the current system will work if it is amended to create equity. For years my community has been underfunded vis-a-vis other “wealthier” districts. When was it decided “seat time” was being replaced. We are doing a good job here and the Governor wants to fix it?

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: I don’t think funding should be based on any of this or little of it. All students rich or poor, rural or urban, or northern or southern should be funded the same. Children from different geographical location, social, or economic places will perform differently. Performance only does not apply to students. Kids are not products on an assembly line. They do not perform. There are all kinds of variables that they cannot control that impact there “performance”.

THEY ARE STILL FORMING! NOT PERFORMING!

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: What are you people talking about? To whom are these questions directed? I thought you were looking for input from regular people…you know…parents, teachers, and community members.

Additional Comments: I am very disappointed with these questions. This is clearly something that has been framed and the Governor is not looking for input but rather approval for something he and this organization has decided. I have already started to inform people about this sham and will continue to do so.

Heather Kosmowski, September 20, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

Additional Comments: I would like to see lots of changes in curriculum–particularly in the elementary level.  My new first-grader is doing things that my 3 year old can do!  Color the circles??  Count the wheels?  Which are numbers and which are letters?  That’s why we are behind other countries. These kids are losing interest because they aren’t being challenged.  I understand that there may be some children who need a little extra help, but you’re boring the rest of them.  I am absolutely disgusted this year so far.  My first grader can read chapter books, but the curriculum being used (Core Curriculum) is having her practice her sight words from Kindergarten with sentences like “See the clock.”  Really?  Catch up.

Jeff Lauth, September 23, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: A simple safeguard to protect parents faced with a school of choice decision from greedy, for-profit school providers in it or the money. Many parents are uneducated on school of choice and what it entails. Personally, I have spent over a year on this topic and I am fascinated and puzzled with the push towards undocumented results. K-12 is a short lived education and consistency is the key to the child. So the key will be have quality measures in place before a school can move forward so our tax dollars are well spent.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: I think there needs to be a foundation in place which appears to the case when reading documents from Governor Snyder. This is too new to the average parent and teachers so I would recommend a gradual performance indicator that balances performance and seat time. Over time and monitoring school progress there may be reason to adjust or not adjust depending on the results.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: It appears the student performance is what we are moving towards. However, i think it should be a gradual pace to move towards since it is new. Many teachers in this profession are not in this for the money. It is the passion of passing on knowledge for a child to grow. However, I believe with a graduating system you can eliminate the teachers who chose his career inadvertently and keep the best of the best.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: I think there has to be accountability on each. Everyone needs an accountability partner to hold each other in check so there needs to be specific performance goals in place and documented (via dashboard program which Governor Snyder has discussed in his message). Those numbers would be the factors that would be measured for future changes.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: Test scores, teacher evaluations, accessibility, transparency, accountability, parent involvement, to name a few.

Additional Comments: You need to isolate “School of Choice” and what it is so when the average parent is faced with a decision to make a change they are prepared. This is not a slam dunk decision and a poor decision may have a devastating impact on the child’s future. If I am faced with making decision where do I go to get guidance? Counselor? How will I know it is the right move to make? Where would I start? What questions would I ask to the school in question? My fear is parents, including myself could make a poor decision and find out too late. What procedures are in place to help weed through any time, any place, any pace, any way?

Rod Rock, September 25, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: I believe that you are misusing the terms qualitative and quantitative. A qualitative system is descriptive in nature, capturing in words rather than numbers the quality of a student’s educational experience. If your intent is to truly use the term qualitative in a research sense, I believe you are absolutely on the right track as opposed to a quantitative system that solely uses a one-time standardized test to both measure and determine a teacher, student, and school district’s effectiveness and value. A qualitative analysis would fully describe the student’s entire educational experience from a non-biased perspective (such as an anthropological, phenomenological, biographic, or ethnographic perspective). This would really be valuable and would allow for true participant perspectives rather than arbitrary tests and measures system you suggest. Please use a true qualitative system to determine educational value.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: The state should look individually and carefully at each school system and consider that most school systems in most communities produce students who are college and career ready as evidenced by their completion of college and advancement into careers. It is preposterous to enter into this analysis with a preconceived notion that every school in every district in Michigan is failing. It is also very shortsighted to forget that America’s schools shape American values. When you only look at test scores, you miss the essence of schooling in most communities across our state wherein students from homes in local neighborhoods attend schools, preschool through graduation, play in bands, act in plays, compete in athletic events, and participate fully in service activities that better their communities and themselves. When you take away the local in local schools, you take away communities. Michigan values its communities. Therefore, Michigan should provide equal funding to every public school in every community and insist that every school is qualitatively excellent in terms of how students experience schooling, how communities support schools, and who students become as a result of their time spent in schools.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: Allow local communities and ISDs to enter into comprehensive agreements with community colleges. Encourage schools to advance students according to their academic abilities while keeping in mind their social and emotional development. Insure that every child in every town in Michigan attends a quality preschool program and that a birth through five program exists to nurture the development of a child so that every child is ready for school–physically, socially, cognitively, emotionally.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: Funding should be equal across all districts in Michigan so that every school can provide every student with an excellent education. Public schools are the duty of a citizenry and serve as shapers of American values. Funding should be equal and schools must be excellent. If a school isn’t excellent, shut it down. Don’t punish all schools in the state for the failure of a few schools. This is too much government and not enough local control for local schools which are the heartbeat of our country.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: Look longitudinally at every child in the areas of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, written fluency, oral fluency, collaboration, social and emotional development, and passion for learning. Measure qualitatively each student’s development for his or her entire educational experience. Provide equal funding in every school in every district in the state so that every school can provide every student with an excellent education. Shut down schools that aren’t excellent and don’t punish all schools for the failure of a few schools. As our government, stop saying that every school is failing. That is not true. Your intentional undoing of our public education system will lead to the eventual undoing of our state. Instead, put in place transformational practices that deeply engage every student in the development of the skills mentioned above. With these skills, students will do exceptionally well on any test they face.

Additional Comments: Stop comparing apples to oranges. When you talk about the performance levels of students in other countries, look also at demographics. I believe that when you compare our students to students in other countries within demographics, our students outperform all students in the world. I love public schools. I am fortunate to have attended public schools and to have served in them for 20 years. There’s nothing better in the world than a good public school. Please don’t take them away from our children. I appreciate my grandparents providing for me. I want to provide for future generations and to continue to shape American values in all students.

Charles Fleetham, October 2, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

Additional Comments: On behalf of the Bloomfield Hills School District Community Partnership Legislative Committee, please address the following additional questions:

We like the idea of self-pacing, but would like to know has it worked anywhere else on the scale we are talking about in Michigan?

What will happen to the hold harmless districts – like us? Will we be allowed to keep their premium funding? What happens to our sinking funds and our millage? Will our district have to accept kids from other districts? If we have to do this, how will our taxpayers feel given the investments in our facilities and the taxes?

How will this program work in rural areas and the inner cities – too many of their children don’t have Internet access or transportation?

How will this program monitor testing? How will it stop people from cheating on the on-line tests at home? *What kind of software systems will have to be designed and implemented to track financials, participation, and the learning plans? How much will these systems cost?

What will happen to the school experience and the enculturation that kids obtain from bonding to a school and to their peers?

What happens to the athletic programs if kids are attending multiple schools?

Will this allow some public schools to build football powerhouses?

Will teachers become independent contractors and will certification be needed to manage a hundred or so kids taking an on-line program?

What happens to programs you can’t take on line – like music, art, phys ed, etc.?

What happens to the intellectual property rights for on-line lesson development?

How will we measure mastery, with on-line courses that are out of our purview?

Will this program eliminate grade levels?

Some districts will fail if this is implemented…what will happen to the facilities and the debt these districts have accumulated?

What other alternatives have been considered?

How will colleges feel about a transcript with many different sources of learning?

How will the new charter schools be held accountable?

They are not accountable to the taxpayers … like we are, is this fair?

Ann Bieneman, October 2, 2012

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current ‘seat time’ requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: I do not think you can accurately measure student performance, or at least a teacher’s impact on it. If a good teacher gets a kids who hasn’t eaten breakfast or had a good night’s sleep, they will not achieve the same “student performance” as a bad teacher with rich kids from motivated families. I’m not sure what “funding based on a percentage of student performance” would mean. Does that mean the school is incented by getting paid when my child achieves 4th grade proficiency? If that child comes into 1st grade at 4th grade level, does the school get paid for three years? If that child takes 8 years to get to a 4th grade level, do they get 4 years pay for 8 years of work? Then don’t the teachers for the disadvantaged kid get diminishing funding, and therefore diminished teacher quality? Will kids get rushed ahead, to show “proficiency” on a test, when in fact the material is lost the day after the test? Will teachers who inspire kids to really learn, who teach them to write eloquently and read deeply, not have incentive to do so? This strikes me as an ill-advised direction.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: I do think districts should be incentives to allow students to move ahead. If my child can get four years of high school science in before she is 14, she should be able to do that, and the school should be compensated for that achievement.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: Performance funding is silly.

Additional Comments: I fear deeply that this whole exercise is a failed experiment that will ruin my public schools at the very moment my children are being educated in them. I feel betrayed by the State of Michigan, who does not seem to be able to support quality public education, and feel that this enterprise is going to make things worse, not better.

Feedback Response Submitted: I am very concerned that standardized tests are killing education instead of facilitating educational quality. My children are very eager to learn, and could go faster, but are slowed by the weight of mandated curriculum and standardized testing. GREAT teachers are the ones who are not bridled by a government-mandated content set, and who can incent students to learn passionately. When they are bound by standardized testing, intellectual material becomes dry, rote, and dumbed down. My hope would be that there would be a way to measure student progress without relying heavily on standardized testing.

Ray Telman, October 2, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

Quick question to “Disaggregating High School Education”

-Page 10

-#2 at the bottom of the page

-second full sentence

Is the word “with” correct?

Melissa Jenkins, October 2, 2012

Q: Are there any outside factors (FRL, ELL, improvement rate of low performing students, ect.) related to performance funding that should be considered?

A: I think performance should be measured based on performance for each student compared to that student’s potential. For example, Sally has an IQ of 100. Based on that information, she has the potential to achieve work right at grade level. Is she? If so, she gets 100% score on performance. Is she doing below grade level work? Then give her a lower score. Take these scores for all students and lump together to get an average performance level for students at the school. This method should be a fairly accurate way of assessing performance overall, because it takes into account differences in the potential of different students. It also requires that schools appropriately educate children at every level of potential. Each child is schooled at a maximum appropriate level for him/her which should improve our global competitiveness overall.

Greg Rosine, October 2, 2012

Q: Are there any outside factors (FRL, ELL, improvement rate of low performing students, ect.) related to performance funding that should be considered?

A: I think it should be focused on value added. Some children, mine included, come to the public schools already exposed to libraries, museums, etc. and have a limit on the amount of television or media exposure. Both of the parents in our household have college educations. Reading is a modeled behavior. Others come in with a handicap of not having any of the advantages of my children, who perform well. If you only want to measure who comes into the system prepared and reward those who have, then don’t use a value added approach. But, I think the right way is to see the progress of students, compared not to each other, but to themselves.

Q: How many years of data should be examined in a performance based funding system?

A: 5

Q: Should students be allowed to “test out” of a content area? How should the school be compensated?

A: I don’t like this approach. It means we are going to admit that we can’t provide additional educational challenges to bright or advantaged students in our schools.

Q: How could policymakers at the state level encourage or incentivize different instructional techniques or delivery methods?

A: Stay out of the kitchen. Let the cooks cook the soup. Just tell them what you want it to taste like.

Jeff Leonhardt, October 2, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

I was looking for information about your organization on your website.

Where do get your funding?

Do you have a governing body? If so, who are the members?

What have you worked on prior to the new SAF project set in motion by the governor. Basically, I would like to know who runs the show.

A response is respectfully requested.

Jeff Leonhardt, October 3, 2012

Q :Should there be process to review and update the performance funding metrics or measurements?

A: As I noted the on the last survey, if you are really seeking input from parents and the community, you will need to stop using jargon. This question will do nothing but confuse anybody who is not statistician. I have taught for 25 years and I don’t know what you are talking about here.

Q: Are there any outside factors (FRL, ELL, improvement rate of low performing students, etc.) related to performance funding that should be considered?

A: Just fund schools for all children period.

Q: How many years of data should be examined in a performance based funding system?

A: I do not think a performance based funding system should be used at all.

Q: Should a student be allowed to “test out” of a content area? How should the school be compensated?

A: Only at high school and with very clear indicators that they are above the competences of the course.

Q: How could policymakers at the state level encourage or incentivize different instructional techniques or delivery methods?

A: They shouldn’t. Not all things should be incentivized.

Additional Comments: A: I feel like this whole revamping of the SAF using Oxford is rigged. The question are framed and only allow comment on the parameters Oxford sets. The game rigged. The questions mean little to the lay person. The agenda has been set. Some of us are watching this process in disbelief! It is the privatization of public schooling and it is being under the radar of the general public.

Greg Warsen, October 9, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: We (Kelloggsville Board of Education and administration) had serious questions on this question. Does it assume that parents are not currently receiving value for the dollars in public education? We would acknowledge that education, like any field, can continue to grow and improve, but value is currently being delivered to students and families. Also, what is meant by a safeguard? Qualitative judgments are by their nature subjective, so who is making these? Would a safeguard limit or eliminate Schools of Choice? Would there need to be safeguard against recruiting high achieving students and/or ferreting out at risk or challenged learners? The current funding system lacks equity and is insufficient to operate schools at the level of quality that we have previously experienced.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: Dropping seat time requirements can have many unintended consequences (attendance, collaborative work with actual people, etc.). Face to face interaction is an important skill to foster. Furthermore, what determines student performance? Is it growth or proficiency? Both have potential difficulties with high achieving students (difficult to get growth) and at risk learners (may be 2-3 grade levels below proficiency).

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: Not the plan that assumes this change has been made. Billing sending districts for students who have transferred is labor intensive and drains resources districts don’t have. We would advocate keeping the current system of two blended counts.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: Again, much of this depends on what performance means and how it is defined. We would advocate for a growth model of performance. Students come to school with very different levels of skill and background knowledge, and they learn at different rates and in different ways, yet a proficiency model expects them to all have the same knowledge and skill at the same time.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: Every child is different as is every school district. We would advocate for a funding model that respects those differences and provides the equity needed to address them. Growth models capture the essence of what education should be about the growth of each child.

Additional Comments: The current system does contain within it vast inequities in funding. As a base foundation district, we would hope to see student foundation allowances brought into more equitable alignment across the state. Differences that do arise should be the result of addressing poverty and other at risk factors.

William Jones, October 18, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: I believe that the overwhelming factor in education is the motivation and hiring of exemplary teachers. Any system will be defunct with out that key component. Spend time and effort getting the most qualified educators and the qualitative component will take care of itself.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: It should likely progress over the next 10 years to 50%.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: I recommend that due to the community and interpersonal relationships that build communities the present district system stay in place. Being a district member is not a negative in my estimation.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: An inverse funding formula based on the students level would be most effective. Lower functioning or achieving students cost more to educate. The money should be per pupil.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: Proficiency,standardized area tests, all based on the common core standards should be used. Along with individual teacher assessments.

Lisa Kotula, October 23, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

I would like to know about special education and early childhood issues? How and when are these two topics to be addressed? Thank you.

Joan Stelzer, October 28, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: We live in one of the “hold harmless” districts. Our taxes are substantially higher than others’ in the state. We accept them and purchased property here because we knew that we could count on the “hold harmless” money to support the standards of education that are important to us.

It sounds like you want to eliminate funding by district and therefore the advantage we think we’re buying with our higher taxes and premium property prices.

If education financing it turned on its ear, and we no longer receive “hold harmless” funds to support our schools in our area, we will become even more of a “donor” area than we are already. More importantly, our school quality will deteriorate, with less funding, and the value of owning property here will decrease. This will significantly impact our property values. IS ANYONE LOOKING AT THIS DIMENSION OF THE PROPOSALS?

Please write back to me as soon as possible.

Patrick Little, November 1, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: That funding for the students who cost more to educate are considered in the formula. Examples include special education students who need additional service beyond the general education teachers. A second example is “at-risk” students who can present greater challenges to the typical student. The cost for schools who house large numbers of “at-risk” or students with disabilities can be greater than those schools who have lower populations.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: I think the measure should not be student performance. This to me sounds largely measured by mass data or meta data. Rather, we should look at a schools ability to show individual growth from one year to the next. Reliable testing has to be in place – the MEAP as we know if does not suffice. This would make it more appealing to teach Special needs and “at risk” populations. In this example, it does not matter how low the kids is when the teacher gets them in the fall, what matters is how much the teacher can help them grow by June.

I don’t know what a fair % would be. Probably a yearly phase in process would be most fair. Start with 10% and in 10 years work up to 30%.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: Attendance is important and schools can influence good attendance. In the new evaluation requirements of principals, attendance rates have to be considered in every evaluation. Wholesale elimination of seat time could send the wrong message about the importance of attendance.

It is essential that all schools are required to do proportional FTE counts for students who move mid-year. It is unfair to districts who have the kid on count day then the student moves and the receiving school educates them without most of the funding. I know the state is trying to get this done but some institutions are throwing up road blocks. This should be mandated.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: How will the state measure anything besides performance in math and reading? It would be huge, huge undertaking to measure for example, all the aspects of the MMC in a standardized manner. But that is the crux of the state curriculum so if it was over all performance, and the MMC is truly the priorities of the state, it would make sense that all aspects of it would be measured.

That would be massive project with fiscal, logistical and communication problems galore. Not to mention that it would have to be done in the Senior year. This would put teachers in all other grade levels off the hook and Senior teacher on it, so to speak.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: Per my answer above it seems if this is the direction we are headed the following has to be in place:

1. Pre and Post (Sept and May) testing in math and reading for all grade levels k-12.

2. It should be computer based and adaptive (see answer to number one for the reason why).

3. RIT score percentage change from pre to post would be the marker to calculate from. This can be measured using something like NWEA’s MAP test or similar programs. (that is what I use at my school so that would be best for me 8).  That being said, percent change is the key.

4. If RIT score is used, it also makes sense to parents. RIT scores can be calculated for any grade and translated in to lexiles for parents to use with kids when selecting books. The other good part of it is that it is translatable to MEAP proficiency or ACT scores with a high reliability.

Additional Comments: I think I understand and support what this change may be about. This is so complex. It needs to be studied by many people, it needs to be transparent in its development. I do believe that we can test all four core content areas and assess them digitally by 4th grade. Reading and Math can start in 1st. But there has to be crystal clear clarity about what is being tested in each subject area each year. Or, go to a more adaptive test like NWEA that looks for skill ranges.

If you need someone to serve on a committee or something like that – let me know.

Best of luck!

Sharon Dietrich, November 4, 2012

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments. I like the concept of funding following the child/student. Seems like it needs to be planned so districts will know the number of students enrolling in order to develop effective budgets. I am concerned about children/students who use special education services not being welcomed by districts as their needed support and services may be costly. These 3 bills are on too much of a fast track. Thank you, Sharon Dietrich

Mark E. Oldford, November 4, 2012

One word to describe the Michigan Public Education Finance Act – ABSURD. This is a politically motivated act to convert public schools into “for profit” charter schools or, worse yet, a politically driven device to hand over public funds to religiously affiliated schools. And these schools will be selective on their enrollment, amounting to state-funded, state-encouraged segregation/discrimination. How could anyone take the research and analysis seriously, when it was led by the same attorney that created and supported the initial charter school push in the first place? The entire project is tainted – it offers a completely biased perspective. We need to focus on improvement of PUBLIC EDUCATION, not find ways to privatize it. And public schools accept ALL students – special needs included. Giving money to charter/parochial schools that will not accept special needs (physical, mental) students will put even more burden on the public school system. IT IS NOT RIGHT! Also, the idea of encouraging on-line learning and early graduation is terrible. Will people that graduate 2 years early (enticed by the money), be physically, mentally, and socially mature enough to successfully continue some productive path (college, technical school, establish a career) at the age of 16???? Of course not. I assume this is a simple business calculation – give $5000 to a child as opposed to spending $16,000 on the final two years of public schooling. I totally envision the finance guy behind this idea pulling a pretend lever and yelling “Kaaaa-Ching”!!!! No thought at all was given to what happens to the kid next… Of course there are no checks and balances to on-line learning either. Research the piracy of for-profit colleges going on right now – this is a great way to provide them more victims for their coffers. In summary, the proposals in this project are atrocious and it is embarrassing that it has been pushed forward. I suspect religiously and/or financially motivated people are behind it – without any consideration that PUBLIC EDUCATION is a foundation of our great American Society. DO NOT assert efforts to dismantle PUBLIC EDUCATION; let’s work to make it better.

Marcia Curran, November 4, 2012

These bills will hollow out public education and in the process damage one of the key institutions for the development of strong communities and cohesive society. People who want to put their kids into private schools should pay for them themselves. Public money should not be used for private or religious institutions. These bills are an attempt to defund and weaken true public education and that will be to the detriment of our communities and our economy. Look around you. The states with well funded public education attract the well educated and those who can contribute a lot to a state’s economy and quality of life. It is one important piece among many. And, local control of public education is a must for strong communities. These bills will weaken local control and weaken our communities.

Judy Geyer, November 4, 2012

As a Disability advocate and a person who uses a wheelchair, I find the Michigan Public Education Finance Project does not address the needs of students with disabilities. This group should not be short-changed in mentioning this act. Please consider including this group.

Laura Klinger, November 5, 2012

First of all, I would like to say that I am vehemently opposed to this draft as it stands.  I am concerned about Governor Snyder and his ilk’s misconception that a free-market approach to state education will be successful.  I am concerned that the main education consultant on this piece of legislation works for Charter Schools.  Where is the input from Public Educators, who will bear the brunt of this overhaul?  Where is the input from parents and teachers, and most importantly, students?

I disagree with nearly every objective of the Michigan Education Finance Project, but what I am most perplexed about is the lack of foresight regarding student access to their proposed new choices.  I work at two small high schools in St. Clair County, Yale and Capac.  Many of my students do not have computers at home.  How are they supposed to access online classes?  Most of my students rely on school transportation to get to school.  As far as I know, nowhere in the MEFP is transportation accounted for.  How are my students expected to benefit from having the option to take classes outside of their district when they can’t access them?  Furthermore, this seems like a logistical nightmare, even for the students who have cars, as they will seemingly be driving all over the county, state, etc., in order to attend their classes.  Class time will be lost due to travel time.  How is this supposed to work?

As it stands, it seems like the MEFP gives For-profit Charter Schools free reign.  To my knowledge, Charter Schools are NOT out-performing Public Schools, and do not offer students a better education.  Based on everything I have read and heard on this issue, Michigan Charter Schools are actually detrimental to students, teachers, and tax payers.  Charter Schools have a ridiculously high teacher turnover rate (probably because Charter School teachers make absolutely nothing), their facilities are not up to standards, students do not have proper materials, and food service providers are abysmal.  It would seem to me that all of these problems are caused by the fact that these schools are run by businesses, whose goal is to cultivate a profit, not to serve students.  We should not be encouraging Charter Schools.  If anything, we should be regulating them.

Basically, I see this proposed project as a useless (used) band-aid to a festering wound.  It postures itself as innovative when it actually is based in old proposed “education reform” concepts that have been rejected by Michigan voters time and time again.  It avoids addressing the real issues:  social and economic inequalities that deeply impact student performance and ability, and a complete and utter disregard for teachers.  Until we provide our teachers with better training, true professional status, higher pay, and smaller caseloads, we will continue to see the same results.  We should be looking to Korea and Finland for solutions, not continuing to push for a market-driven system that exacerbates the problems that need to be addressed.

I am absolutely disgusted with the way the Snyder administration is dealing with education reform.  Pushing HB 5923, HB 6004, and SB 1358 through a lame duck session is dirty, and is not reflective of the beliefs of Michigan voters – despite the failure of Prop. 2, 70% of Michiganders support collective bargaining (http://www.progressmichigan.org/press/new-poll-70-support-collective-bargaining-in-michigan.html).  As for this piece of legislation, I am sure a $100 appropriation will be slapped on in order to avoid a referendum.  This administration is pushing for drastic, potentially devastating changes while circumventing the true democratic process.  Up until now, I have supported Governor Snyder and believed in his reasonability.  I no longer feel this way.

Opening the draft up for public comment is a joke.  I know nothing said by any Michigan citizen is going to be taken into account.

Shame on all of you.

Kevin Ivers, November 5, 2012

There is no need to unbundle public education by codifying the recommendations of this report. There are options already available for parents and students who seek additional learning opportunities such as virtual learning, dual enrollment and Schools of Choice. As a school superintendent, I would be skeptical and unwilling to certify that my students have met the State’s graduation requirements without having direct contact with them to assess their performance. Students have a variety of learning styles and I have observed some who have been successful with online learning and others who have failed. The key is to provide quality programs and experiences for all Michigan students. With the appropriate level of State funding, districts can provided these experiences for students on their own.

Gary Oyster, November 5, 2012

The Purposes Laid Out in this Bill While ‘enabling people to employ options’ and ‘providing greater access to self-pacing’ sound like noble purposes, the purposes listed in the proposed bill are totally absent of terms that guarantee that these options and access are provided to EVERY student in the state. The purpose of this legislation could just as easily be read to say, “Don’t hold MY child back at the expense of others!” Unbundling Education: The Premise that Funding Should Be Tied To Success If Michigan school funding is to be based on successful learning, how is that success to be determined and who is responsible for that success? Fundamental to every effective learning model is the belief that ALL children can learn. If the people of Michigan really believe that, it is imperative that their leaders change the educational funding system so that tax dollars go to results rather than potential. The difficulty lies in designing a system that practically guarantees success, investing in as near a “sure thing” as possible. A free market-style design is not adequate because failure for some is a guaranteed outcome. Withholding funding until success is attained would cause a loss of quality workforce. A third option is described by Gov. Snyder’s advisor, Mr. McLellan, in portions of his explanation for the plan: stopping things that don’t work! His proposal finds the greatest agreement among educators in the areas where the old industrial methodology and agrarian schedule are changed. The Specifics of the Funding Formula in this Bill: The recommendation is for a series of “categoricals” of funding to accomplish the governor’s goals (i.e. year-round school incentives, early graduation scholarships, development of standards for performance testing). However, the authors of this proposed bill do not make any attempt at providing even ballpark estimates as to the cost effects of their various reform proposals. One specific funding recommendation that IS made in the proposal is that funding for 2013-14 be “the same amounts of money from the same sources for the same purposes as are appropriated and allocated under this article for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, as adjusted for changes in pupil membership, taxable values, special education costs, interest costs, and available revenue.” (Section 388.1612.amended of the draft legislation, pages 73-74) The proposed legislation would then move to a formula where, beginning in 2014-15, a district is given funding based 85% on its fall head count, 10% on its previous spring head count, and 5% on the results of performance testing, with a prorated loss of funding for each student who fails to achieve one year’s growth based on the performance test (which has not yet been developed). The proposed legislation makes NO CHANGE to the way the foundation allowance is determined, meaning it is still using 1994 property values as a baseline. The resultant inequities of this distribution system remain. Deregulating Educational Options It seems contradictory that a robust online education program could exist without rules laid down and enforced to assure the quality of those programs. Yet the proposed bill would prevent any state regulation of educational choices such as online learning programs. The local “enrollment districts” (including for-profit charters) would be expected to make the selection of these programs on their own. Human nature is to find the path of least resistance. Given free rein, at the minimum this leads to circumventing the objectives of reform; at worst, it leads to “cheating”. The local school board is empowered to protect the children it knows best by selecting the most appropriate teachers, textbooks and course content. However, local entities are not equipped to certify teachers or establish standards for course content or textbooks … the state does this best. The same practice would seem to be the best practice when it comes to online learning programs. A truly free market rewards success, but also tolerates failure as a way of life (“the cost of doing business”). Because our children are not products, and the time they are given to learn is too precious to risk on unvetted online vendors, the state department of education should be considered an important partner in the process of determining appropriate online resources. John Austin, president of the Michigan Board of Education: “An analogy to the lack of oversight of Wall Street that led to the financial collapse is not out of line: This legislation is proposing a whole new family of costly educational products, most of which we have no idea if — or how — they work, with no regulation nor performance expectations. This is a recipe for an educational system meltdown.” Issues that are NOT addressed in the draft bill Equitable funding. While differences in learning styles and needs mean that not every student will cost the same amount to be made career or college ready, it needs to be made clear that all students have the same VALUE. This is not the case with the current funding system, and the issue is not addressed in this proposal. State aid payments. The schools’ fiscal year starts on July 1. State school aid payments currently begin in October. School districts statewide currently spend $15 million per year in interest on loans to maintain cash flow in the intervening months of operation. The ISD system. In its current form, the intermediate school district system provides vocational education, special education and school management and training services through mandatory “consortium’s” of local districts that are arbitrarily assigned according to county boundary lines. Local districts cannot form their own cost-efficient consortium’s with neighboring districts, or choose to provide these services on their own, because they are forced to accept them through ISD’s. Summary The aspects of the proposed legislation that find the greatest support among research-based, data-driven educational experts are those that take a carefully targeted surgical approach to things that have proven not to work, such as negating the old industrial methods (unbundling educational options, removing the child from a district’s “ownership”) and the agrarian calendar (stretching 180 days of instruction over 12 months instead of 9). By failing to address equity and security issues, and by failing to provide even fundamental cost/benefit analyses of the proposal, the free market and deregulating aspects of this legislation fall short of the need for Michigan’s citizens to be sure that all of its children can learn at their optimum level.

Kelli Horst, November 5, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

Fellow public education supporters, below is an email I sent to Richard McLellan, identified on the Oxford Foundation website as “project director” of the Michigan Education Finance Project,” on Oct. 11, 2012.  I’m submitting my thoughts with the hope they reach people who are thinking in earnest about these issues.

Many thanks,

Kelli Horst

Mr. McLellan, I realize this note is coming a little late to the party, but I have just spent time this morning reading through the updates posted on the Oxford Foundation’s website regarding the Michigan Education Finance Act. I am an active parent leader in Clarkston Community Schools and a candidate for school board this fall. As a four-year PTA president in our district, I have spent a lot of time educating parents on education funding and policy. I have been very critical of the state’s funding structure, so I am pleased Governor Snyder is tackling this issue. I’m not afraid of change or evolution, particularly in light of the speed at which society evolves. I do have several questions and observations as a parent, though, which I hope you will find helpful and and worth considering:

  • I appreciate the breadth of organizations that have been consulted in this overwhelming challenge, but where is the voice of the parent? I’m thinking specifically of Michigan PTA, the state’s “parents union,” but would feel more comfortable knowing any parents were a key part of the conversation. The overview talks a lot about parent choice driving this process, but it also seems to have the potential for creating a lot of chaos for parents who are not already go-getter advocates for their children.
  • Why is special education not included in this effort? Surely you know how much more it costs to educate our students with special needs and that districts are required to provide for adult students with special needs into their 20s. Clarkston is one of the districts known for its special education program. We enroll a larger-than-average special education population (something like 13%) and field many school of choice requests for students with IEPs. I appreciate the inclusion of the perspective of gifted parents (one of their members encouraged me to read through the web site), but cannot understand how this segment failed to make the cut. The parents of children of special needs are among the most motivated, educated and passionate advocates for choice for their children.
  • This effort has to be integrated with how colleges and schools of education train teachers. It seems it will change that career path dramatically, not only from the perspective own education and training, but also expectations for career reward, longevity and satisfaction. A lot of teachers will be excited by what sounds like a lot of creative freedom to engage an excite students; we’ve seen it in our own district through the adoption of Cultures of Thinking. But new teachers will need to graduate from college ready to enter this new world of public education in Michigan.
  • Is not the issue of local control tied to home values? That I live in Clarkston with Clarkston Community Schools as my district makes a difference in the value of my home and the attractiveness of my community to potential residents and new businesses. Will this plan reduce the attractiveness of a community and its property values because the importance of the local district as a community identifier is minimized? Local districts and communities do determine their own vision, culture, budgets priorities, and value-added programming … all directly tied to the expectations and “personality” of the community. I’m getting the feeling that even if I win a seat on the school board in November, it will be an obsolete concept next year!

I offer a lesson of caution from the world of higher education marketing, a field in which I have worked for the last 13 years as an administrator and consultant. When US News and World Report introduced “America’s Best Colleges” many years ago, it created an expensive game in which colleges and universities spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete, ostensibly for students, but really for the attention and respect of their peers. They attempt to influence the nebulous “reputation” score that counts as a significant element in US News’ rankings. I’ve been part of that machine as a former communications director for a regional private university. I would hate to see our public schools and districts forced into a similar competitive game under a broad Schools of Choice mandate that would force us to market ourselves to parents…we steal from A, B steals from C, C steals from X, and so on. It is a zero-sum game that takes resources away from the student and classroom.

Many thanks for listening and considering the viewpoint of a parent. I wish you success in this effort – our children are depending on it. If I can be helpful, do not hesitate to let me know.

Best,

Kelli Horst

Brett R. Mitchell, November 7, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

As a public school parent, I would like to continue to rely on my local elected officials to create education policy that directly affects my children’s classrooms, i.e. Local Control of our neighborhood schools. I am therefore opposed to this administrations interest in forcing “schools of choice” on those communities who have already demonstrated a high regard for a diversified student population and currently maintain a high degree of student achievement. Each district has the “right to choose” its own course when it comes to this issue.

Judy Gafa, November 10, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

I am contacting you in the hopes that the Oxford Foundations intent is to work in partnership and listen openly to suggestions from Michigan community members. I currently serve as the President of the Grosse Pointe Board of Education. It is no secret that our community vehemently opposes Mandated School of Choice, as we feel it is a detriment to our very successful district.

In reviewing the Governors goals, the Civic Marshall Plan and recent high school graduation rates by state two things stand out to me. First, Grosse Pointe has implemented  many or had in place many of the benchmarks of the Civic plan, and has a graduation rate of approximately 98%. The 29 other States that have implemented the civic plan have seen an increase in their graduation rates. The second thing that stood out very clearly out to me, is that many of the states that have gone the school of choice path have lower graduation rates than Michigan and their graduation rates and state rankings are not improving over all.

It is imperative that Michigan be a leader in education reform, not a follower. As I look at states that have successfully increased their graduation rates (which are based on an agreed formula nationally), they are meeting national benchmarks such as, focusing on early reading intervention, reduced chronic absenteeism, instituted early warning sign interventions, provided strong peer mentoring programs, put comprehensive drop out recovery programs and provided all students a clear pathway from high school to college or career training. These are just a few of the successful programs being put in place.

It makes much more sense to me for our state to invest in these types of improvements and and set-up our own Civic Marshall Plan, basing improvements on the successful districts in the state and reinvesting in that success. Investing in a plan that is community based and locally controlled will improve overall academic success, instead of creating borderless schools with no clear pathway to success.

Here in Grosse Pointe both of our high schools have implemented strong peer mentoring programs, partnered with specific initiatives to aid our struggling learners. The district has created an continuous improvement plan based on data driven decisions. The superintendents goals are based on this plan as well as district goals, this gives each individual school a clear pathway on which to base their improvement plan. The district has also implemented rigorous academic programs to challenge all of our students. Over 90 of our students at Grosse Pointe North advanced placement classes have tested in the top 17% in the country.

It is comprehensive plans such as these that a community can rally around, that will improve Michigan’s educational system and mark our state as a leader in education reform. I implore you not to follow Florida, Louisiana, and Indiana, whose graduation rates have stayed flat or has shown a slight increase. Let us not follow Colorado, by uncapping Cyber Schools and increasing the drop out rate. There must be accountability from our charter schools and virtual classrooms. Grosse Pointe has a large majority of highly effective teachers. This must be part of any plan to improve the academics in Michigan.

We must invest in early childhood education, sound research based programs that provide proven results. The Oxford Foundation has an opportunity to write an educational plan in Michigan, make it the standard other states refer to and model themselves after. Prove that Michigan is a leader in educational reform, not just another sheep in the herd.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Susan Miller, November 12, 2012

Note: Respondent did not answer any questions, only left a comment in the “additional comments” section.

I would appreciate more information regarding the “statewide enrollment” section of the memo appearing on page 8.

- When it indicates that receiving schools will control their own enrollment, what does this mean?

- Does this mean that districts and schools could choose which students to accept or to opt out of inter-district enrollment?

- Would students who live within a school district have a priority for enrollment within that district?

- If control is taken away from local districts and they are forced to participate in inter-district enrollment, how will the State of Michigan reimburse district residents for the funds they have personally invested in the school district, its facilities and its programming? National research has determined that property values in urban, affluent cities fall when those cities are mandated to participate in inter-district school  enrollment programs.

- Also, if the draft of this bill was available November 7th, where may I obtain a copy of it?

- Supposedly, there was going to be a public meeting to discuss this proposal in October 2012. When will this actually take place?

Thank you very much for your assistance. The last time I emailed your office with questions, I received no response.

Joshua Raymond, November 14, 2012

Q: What “safeguards” need to be put in place to ensure the taxpayers are receiving value for their dollars as we move away from a quantitative accounting system to a qualitative one?

A: The data collected must be available and transparent enough to the public so that parents can understand how well a school is meeting the needs of students with low, medium, and high abilities. Data should not just be an aggregate of the school’s performance, but show the growth and proficiency for each decile of students.

Q: As the state transitions to funding based on a percentage of student performance from the current “seat time” requirement, what percentage of school funding should be based on student performance? How long should this transition take?

A: For each decile of students, based on Smarter Balanced test scores, schools should risk losing 20% of their funding for that decile when not meeting yearly growth compared to other schools and stand to gain 20% additional funding when performing significantly better than peer schools in meeting needs in that decile.

Q: What changes would you recommend be made to the pupil membership accounting to replace seat time?

A: Accounting should be based on growth and proficiency. A school that helps a child learn at a rate greater than one year of growth per calendar year should be rewarded with funding commensurate to that rate. This does not need to be a 1-to-1 measure, so a student learning at twice the average rate may only earn the school 50% more.

Q: Should performance funding be based on overall performance or performance in specific subjects? Should funding be allocated based on the performance of an individual student, a school building, or the entire school district?

A: Funding should be based on all measured subjects. It should either be based on the performance of an individual student or on deciles of the students as ranked by Smarter Balanced test scores. Having performance funding at the school or district level leads to aggregation of data and the unique learning needs of each student lost in the averages.

Q: What specific metrics or measurements (i.e. proficiency, growth) should be used to gauge student performance? How should each metric or measurement be weighted?

A: Student performance should be measured using both proficiency and growth. To maximize the individual learning of each student, weighting should be 70% growth and 30% proficiency. This will help ensure that students who will never be proficient or are already proficient have their academic needs met.

Additional Comments: Under the current proficiency-based model, schools are pressured to bring each student up to an grade-based level. Some students already exceed these – and often ignored by the schools. Some students will never reach this and are sometimes overlooked as well. Instead of focusing on the average student, we need focus on the growth of each student.

While the standard mantra is “one year’s growth in one year’s time,” this is also inadequate. Some children can’t make that growth. Other children can make 2-3 years growth. That is why I suggest focusing on each decile to compare how schools and districts are meeting the needs of every student. Using an aggregate of all students’ growth would still allow a school to ignore top or struggling learners in favor of growth in the middle. For example, a district where the bottom 10% made 0.5 years growth, the middle 80% made 1.2 years growth, and the top 10% made 1.3 years growth would have a higher score than a district where the bottom 10% made 0.9 years growth, the middle 80% made 1.1 years growth, and the top 10% made 1.6 years growth. A district needs to pay attention to the growth of every student, not just the average student.

Greg Warsen, November 16, 2012

I’ve read with interest some of the updates posted on the Oxford website and appreciate the gesture of transparency and communication.  In the November 5 memo from Richard D. McLellan, I was curious if the issue of equity would be raised.  By this, I mean the disparity of dollars per student that we see across the state.  As a base foundation district, we have often been perplexed at why a student just two miles to the north of us is worth about $800 more per year, and as much as $5,000 to $6000 more on the East side of the state.  We understand the history behind it but question the fairness.

Will this issue be addressed if we’re taking the time to revamp Michigan School Finance?

George McMullen, November 17, 2014

Is public comment still welcome on the rewriting of the school aid act?

Second Question

Who would I talk to for get details on the process and time frame of your report to Governor Snyder?

Grosse Pointe is currently a closed district for residents only and the issues I read looks as though you recommendations would entail opening up the whole state.

I would be interested in more information and perhaps a person to speak with or at least e-mail to with questions.

Kate Dupuis, November 19, 2012

I have one very important question…As a parent of a child with down syndrome who will be entering the public school system, and given the fact that my child has the same civil rights and educational rights as any other child, is the new finance draft saying my child with special needs can go to any school accepting school of choice, that will meet her needs, and the finance will follow her? You realize that the finance will be at least $14,000 dollars to meet her extra needs,  and that my estimates with therapy, and speech, and additional staff will be about $26,000. Since the state foundation is about $7,000, where and who will pay the extra costs if no district has “ownership” over the student? How many schools would be willing or wanting to accept her knowing she will cost more to educate, and that she will most likely not perform as well as her non-disabled peers?

It sounds to me that the Oxford foundation should take a course in special education law, and special education school finance before finalizing this draft. You may want to confer also with the office of civil rights to make sure all students will be served fairly under a new finance system.

As a child advocate belonging to one of the largest advocacy groups in the United States, I will be watching this closely and preparing myself to fight hard against this legislation as currently written, with my fellow parents of children with special needs,  because I see this draft as extremely discriminatory!

Alex Skogfeldt, November 19, 2012

I would like to suggest that the Draft not include attendance to its considerations. I believe the spirit of the draft is to give incentive to student for graduating early. Not to mention the extra cost the schools would need to consider for air conditioning during the summer. The year round school isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I think it belongs in another bill.

Thomas Anderson, November 19, 2012

I feel that the Michigan Public Education Finance Project Bill is a great way to motivate students to graduate high school early but I disagree with adding the year round schooling to this bill. I feel that year round schooling should be a separate bill as it will only hinder this bill’s ability to be passed.

Marty Howard, November 20, 2012

Whatever happened to the concept of local control of public education? If anything this make bigger government and more bureaucracy? Not a good plan whatsoever, and not good for kids.

David Heitz, November 20, 2012

I applaud your efforts and direction setting for increasing the level of knowledge and overall skill capabilities of our children, which should be our goal and appears to be with the proposed changes outlined here.  Please keep a focus on ascertaining knowledge, skills and capabilities going forward rather than just the ability to take a paper exam, although that would obviously be included.

Michelle Adams, November 20, 2012

I read the article regarding the proposed changes for the Michigan school system. My concern is that Michigan tax dollars will be paying for online schools that are not based in Michigan. I do believe that every student doesn’t learn in the same way, therefore should not be pigeon-holed into the same type of school, but if my tax dollars are going to be used to fund schools, there out to be a way to make sure those dollars STAY in Michigan. I say you should add as part of the proposal that the funding only follows the student as far as the Michigan border, if they go out of state (on line or otherwise) for schooling, let the school get the funding from the state it is based in. You have just opened the door for out of state schools to be funded by Michigan tax dollars without any benefit to the state.

Peter Ruddell, states “The one thing that I heard from no one is that our industrial factory model of stamping kids through the system works,” he said. That is because the system doesn’t work, instead of holding kids accountable for learning, we are using the ‘No Child Left Behind’ to pass through kids that should have been held back. Because we are too afraid to offend a parent by telling them their child is not ready to go to the next grade. Instead of doing what is right for that child’s education, we are allowing parents to pressure administration into advancing a child that is clearly not ready. Heaven forbid that child is a sports player; too many students who cannot read are allowed to graduate because it might hinder a sports career if they have to repeat a grade. People don’t let themselves take into account that the same child may injure themselves in their first year of professional sports and have no education to fall back on.

Mr. Ruddell needs to have his ears cleaned if he thinks no one is calling for a change of the status quo.

Kimberly VanderKelen, November 20, 2012

I have gone over the draft numerous times looking for Midland Public School District settlement and unfortunately I do not see it on your list.

Could you please review and let me know if it was an oversight or if we need the lawyers working on the case to contact you and give you more information?

Mike Thoits, November 20, 2012

I am interested in the governor’s educational initiatives. The draft education finance project suggests that question be directed to you. I have a question.

Is there any research on the open enrollment concept? I asked the governor’s office several times for anything that supports the underlying assumption that that change would benefit students, but received no reply. Are you aware of any such support?

Thank you for your consideration.

Eric Mauer, November 20, 2012

If private schools are allowed to be selective in whom they accept – it seems to me that they would have a cost and profit advantage – since it costs more to educate a student that has learning disabilities (significantly more). Add the fact that then public schools would proportionally be getting more of the students with learning difficulties then the private ones. So how does a per student fee work when you have this issue? Even paying schools based on performance – if a private school picks top performers – their performance growth will be greater then a bottom tier student group (if you do not believe me then let’s have a pick up basketball team – I will get the McDonald’s All Stars and you can have any high school second string team – wish to predict the results). Online courses – how do you ensure that the student enrolled in the course is the one taking the course? Is there any certiication process for online courses?

Mark Stacey, November 20, 2012

Great start. This is what I have wanted for my child for years. Even though my child’s district (walled lake) is very highly rated I still feel that I could have customized her education plan with better results. For example I was very unhappy with the grade school math program that was offered and I had to put her in Kumon at my own cost to get the results I expected. This turned out as I hoped and now I have a 10th grader who is at the top of her class in math. Please work to push this needed reform into action. Good luck moving Michigan forward.

Mark O’Keefe, November 20, 2012

Basing school district funding on test scores creates incentives for schools to cherry-pick high achieving students and to divest themselves of at-risk children. I wonder who will want my grandson in her school or class. His Down syndrome is likely to result in lower test scores, and lower pay for the teacher and less funding for the school district.

This proposal can only result in widening the achievement gap, as district’s like Grosse Pointe, where I live, are able to pay higher salaries, and district’s like the Detroit, where I work, are increasingly handcuffed when trying to attract and retain the best teachers.

The premises underlying this plan are fundamentally flawed. Ask any teacher who left a “failing district” like Detroit for a one with higher tests scores.  Did they suddenly become better teachers?

John Chichester, November 20, 2012

The Early Graduation Scholarship shows flawed thinking in how to build an incentive system.

It will take two parties working together to increase the number of students graduating early: The student and the school.  We all know that people will not act unless they get a benefit for it.  Where is the benefit to the school in this plan?

This kind of sloppy thinking is why our public schools have failed Michigan.

Judy Gafa, November 20, 2012

In reading appendix B of the report on the new bill, the enrolling district will have to become an accounting firm to handle all the pay outs to other districts, academies, universities etc. This will place an added financial burden on those districts.  It will require more employees, academies or charter schools will have no incentive to become the district of enrollment.  The incentive will be to offer classes and accept part of the foundation allowance from the public school system.  You have not leveled the playing field here at all, and I am concerned about accountability.  There are many flaws to the funding piece alone. The state should bear the burden of the cost of figuring out who gets what monies for what students per class.

Nate Smith-Tyge, November 20, 2012

Let me un-bundle some history for you and your ilk. You have tried this twice in the past and each time voters rejected the underlying premise of your “new ideas.” Repackaging the same anti-public school policies is nothing new or innovative. What it is, is a cash grab by the same old parties now coupled with “for-profit” school operators. Stop the non-sense. We will fight you every step of the way – call ex-Rep Scott and ask him about doubting our resolve. No way – no place – never – not in my state.

Kim Eike, November 20, 2012

My major concern is that radical change – year after year after year – is very difficult for public schools to deal with. It is incredibly hard for small school districts that have minimal central office staffs. Our district has a central office of a part time clerk, a superintendent, a business manager and a clerk who full time fills our reports for the state. Full time. Space these changes out over several years. Please.

Tom Jayne, November 20, 2012

I know we Superintendents in Michigan have compiled and submitted a comprehensive list of refinements we would like enacted to the school aid act of 1979, unfortunately it appears those suggestions have fallen on deaf legislative ears. What do we know as educational leaders after all…we know what’s best for kids on a day to day basis and this proposal as it stands flies in the face of that. Please take your time to solicit more input on this from all the players who would be affected, especially the students (have you asked them what they need and want), before you even begin to consider voting on it. I am all for change but not this type of change.

Jeff Moon, November 20, 2012

I have been on education for 26 years and strongly disagree with the direction and possible negative impact this project is headed. Please reconsider this course of action.

Andrea Johanson, November 20, 2012

Parents in my district are not asking for choice. They are asking for adequate funding for public schools. Not all public schools in the state are failing. There are many many districts that have excellent schools, and most of us made our choice in moving to districts with excellent, high-performing public schools. We paid more for our houses and we pay higher taxes to live in popular school districts. That is the choice we made. And yet in the last 2 years we have seen Public School funding raided by the State. The School Aid fund’s surplus was taken and used to fund things outside of K-12 education. And now this? Parents in Northville do not need or want more choice. We want classroom sizes under 30. We want enough teachers in our schools so that their daily task is more than just crowd control. 32+ 3rd and fourth graders in a classroom with only ONE teacher. No more aides or parapros or librarians — they’ve all gone. Children who previously succeeded in the system are now failing because the teachers cannot handle the larger class sizes, or because some children need additional attention which they can no longer get. Those of us who can afford it are paying for tutors to keep our children up to speed. We live in a community willing to tax itself to help our schools. We have suffered terrible funding cuts already and are just holding it together in buildings from the 1950s. And now you want to make the funding system even more tenuous? How can districts run schools without knowing what their budget will be? Where are they to get resources to start online courses? What kinds of monitoring and standards will be in place to keep online options rigorous? SHOW ME ONE PLACE WHERE SUCH A SYSTEM HAS SUCCEEDED? If you cannot, then you WILL NOT make my children and my community the guinea pig for your radical and unproven education philosophy.

Robert Seeterlin, November 20, 2012

I am concerned that we are taking resources away from the locally elected boards and the students they “must” serve. Locals know best what their residents want and need. Locals can’t deny education to those that have special needs or live in poverty. Some districts have very successful programs that they may be forced to cut due to resources being taken away and given to private for profit entities. Nowhere is the world does the proposed system work. It is untested and risky. We need safety nets. Struggling districts will fail and those students that can’t escape will be harmed greatly. They are rushing this without thinking through the whole picture. Something this important needs bi-partisan support. It can’t look like a republican power grab or the divide will widen.

Julie A. Gardenour, November 20, 2012

This is not what is best for our students in education. We need to meets all needs equally-why does our public school teachers take the bad rap that is mainly caused by the breakdown in our family system. We need to focus our attention on building up our family units-not so much time on the school system staff and administration. You folks have your priorities off!

Jaclyn Tucker, November 20, 2012

To Whom It May Concern, I have just read the article from Freep.com titled “Education funding proposal allows school choice, more online learning”. I am very happy to see that Michigan is attempting to revamp the educational system, however, as a teacher, I do have some concerns with this proposal. I feel that having an actual, living person to interact with, model thinking, offer support, and provide human contact, is of the utmost importance with regards to a student’s development. By allowing students to piece-a-meal their education, and never really have to engage in face-to-face learning, it would be taking away a vital link in the process of attaining and retaining information. I also think that by tying this new way of acquiring an education to money seems to cheapen the whole idea of the importance of education. I feel that this would be giving many students and parents the wrong idea about why they should choose one method over another. (Brick and mortar vs. online) This proposal seems to provide more of an extrinsic motivation for learning, rather than an intrinsic motivation, which has been proven to be more effective. (Marzano, Pickering, Pollock. “Classroom Instruction that Works” 2005 pgs. 53-55). Please take into consideration these ideas when formulating a new plan for Michigan schools and education.

Mike Matesich, November 21, 2012

Where’s the equity? Where’s the equity? Where’s the equity? All I see here in the draft is an attempt to move to a voucher system and an attempt shift the cost of educating the children of Michigan.

James Roberts, November 21, 2012

Looks like another end-around to divert public dollars into private pockets, based on claims that the current system “isn’t doing the job.” I have yet to see any research that looks comprehensively at the many factors that affect educational achievement and yet are NOT within the control of our teachers. Chaotic families, nutrition, and extensive “screen time” (TV, video and computer games) are all major factors affecting education, yet receive scarce mention in discussions of why Johnny isn’t learning. In most districts, several weeks that used to be spent teaching are now spent on testing (and test preparation), class sizes are larger, support resources have dwindled, and Music and Art (which research shows DOES affect academic achievement) are things of the past. The legislature (and this project) don’t seem interested in addressing those things. Instead, we get “performance-based funding” based on the assumption that if Johnny isn’t learning, it has nothing to do with Johnny or his family. Ridiculous. In addition, the idea that “funding should follow the student” sounds like a voucher system to me. In my opinion, vouchers are nothing but a means for providing a partial rebate to parents who can afford to send their kids to private schools, without providing any benefit to those who can’t. Naturally, vouchers also provide a financial windfall to those private schools, money that came from the public system. I understand that this proposal does not actually create a voucher system, but it would move us one step closer and provide ideological justification (the “it’s not that different” argument} for moving to a true voucher system. Incorporation of online learning is yet another objection to this proposal. I don’t know what research exists to support online learning — if any– but common sense and a few seconds of thought should reveal the many ways in which online “learning” can be abused. I would love to see an education reform proposal that empowers local districts by providing adequate funding for teaching the whole child (i.e., academics plus the arts), adequate funding to establish class sizes that promote educational objectives, and adequate funding to attract and retain good teachers. Those things would require significant increases in levels of school funding, which means higher taxes for corporations and high-end taxpayers. Since those seem to be the players with the most clout, we get something like this, instead.

Brandon Miller, November 21, 2012

Good Morning! I am writing to express my displeasure with the Oxford Report on Public Financing for Public Schools. This document is a clear attack on public education and the people who provide it. My biggest concern is in the “research base” of the document. We need to understand that just because we give people choices in education does not make it better. As a teacher, I will be the first to agree that our education system needs reform. However, it should be done with a research base and not as a over reach to basically break the MEA.. Local school districts will be devastated to a great extent and in many instances forced under the new EAA bill currently in the education committee (which is another over reach, even though the voters rejected the Emergency Manager Law). Imagine a rural school where a student chooses to take 1/2 of his classes online (a joke in itself for the most part) and 1/2 at the local school. The district receives 1/2 of the FTE and still has to heat, clean, pay teachers, etc. Now I understand that staff would be reduced, but you can see the financial issues that would arise. Another concern I have involves certain schools being able to have admission requirements, while other cannot. As a charter school, why would I admit students with low scores, or even worse yet, special education students. This is segregation and most likely a violation of the law. Why can our better students not work together with those who struggle? One last concern I have is who is behind the Oxford Foundation and why Gov. Synder would select such a group with an individual such as Mr. McLellan behind it. It is no secret he is also behind the “anti public anything” Mackinaw Center. Have a great day and I look forward to your response.

Darrell Johnson, November 21, 2012

Thanks… As the 9th district GOP national delegate to Tampa this past year and a part of my school community citizen’s finance committee; I welcome some talking points on why this bill has merit. My Bloomfield Hills school system and the Oakland County district is already going on the defense against any re-write… so I welcome any additional counterpoints you might have etc. Thanks!

Micah Cain, November 21, 2012

I am a senior at Meridian High School, and I see this bill as a Government scheme to commercialize our education system. Right now, my district is already going through a transition towards a New Tech school, and this bill would only further the frustration of this change. I also would enact my power of referendum of such a vote, as is my right in the Michigan constitution, as stated in § 9 Initiative and referendum; limitations; appropriations; petitions.

Jennifer Fryxell, November 21, 2012

This is an attempt to undermine and dissolve public education. I will be a voice that opposes your attempts.

Major Guy, November 21, 2012

The early graduation achievement scholarship: The draft says AT ANY ACCREDITATION INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION. That should be at any MICHIGAN Accredited Institution. (The purpose is to keep students/talent in Michigan) Also in regards to Online education; Revenue generator for schools- Michigan Schools should allow students from outside of Michigan to take online courses at the cost to that student. (The purpose should be to also attract talent to Michigan at an early age) Also would like thank you for creating ways to move students through high school at a faster pace. One more thing (Scholarships should require repayment if student does not complete course work, Students need that incentive to push them past the finish line).

Eric Davidson, November 21, 2012

Thank you for submitting this well intended proposal for the future of our schools. School choice is by far the best tool we have to make all of our schools better. Why shackle a child to a failing district just because their parents cannot afford to live somewhere else? Even Obama’s Secretary of Education said that education is the civil rights issues of our time. School choice will force districts and teachers to justify their existence, and they sure do not like that one bit. However, any push to add provisions for teacher evaluation and funding being based on test scores should be left out. Publicly posting test scores will drive parents to make the right decisions for who should educate their children. The rest will fall into place. Stand firm, do what’s best for our kids and keep moving forward.

Tracy Wolford, November 21, 2012

The proposed overhaul of Michigan’s school aid funding is a deeply flawed plan that would end community-run public education in Michigan by enacting nearly the same voucher system that Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2000. It would create fiscal uncertainty for every single school in the state. Call it what you like; “funding follows the child” is a voucher. It does not matter that you limit the funding to public schools, because you have redefined “public schools” to include all manner of privately run, even for-profit, enterprises. Your plan will be disastrous to public education. As a parent of two public school children, I am outraged and dismayed by this sledgehammer approach to public education and urge you to reject all of the Oxford Foundation’s recommendations. We can address the issues of failing schools without failing our schools, our communities, or our children. But this is most certainly not the way.

Jason Fawcett, November 21, 2012

The idea of sending school funding wherever, whenever is one of the worst concepts ever introduced in education and will have a detrimental effect on public education.  But, you already know that, don’t you?  This attempt is much more about taking money away from public schools and diverting it to private corporations and institutions, the types of organizations that Gov. Snyder, your members, and the members of the Mackinac Center rub elbows with on a regular basis.

What will happen to tuition at private educational institutions if your plan is accepted?  The cost of tuition will increase. But, you already know that, don’t you?  If a private education institution receives $6900 from a voucher and currently charges $8400 (of course Greenhills, where Gov. Snyder’s charges nearly $20,000 already) for tuition, the cost of tuition will only increase.  The school still only has x number of seats available.  Therefore, it will be able to increase tuition and parents will feel like they are receiving a tuition break.

What will happen to lower performing students and students with disabilities?  These students will receive inferior educations.  But, you already know that, don’t you?  Institutions that “specialize” in servicing students with autism or ELL students will open their doors.  However, will the students perform better?  Not at all.  That battle has already been fought.  When students are mainstreamed in an the least restrictive environment they learn more, are able to learn social expectations and communicate in the English language.  “Specialized” schools will only set back the clock and disservice these students.

What will happen to high performing public school districts?  These districts will become lower performing districts and/or go out of business.  But, you already know that, don’t you?  Can you imagine trying to run a business, but never knowing the amount of funds available?  Instead of investigating in students, districts will need to increase class sizes and hold off hiring teachers and purchasing books and technology in order to have a reserve of funds available in case students decide to take online courses from here, a science class from there, and an art class from somewhere else.  Basically, your plan will have created budgetary chaos.  Michigan has some of the top performing districts in the nation.  Even in tough economic times (thanks to unregulated private organizations that gambled with our economic system), the districts in Michigan have developed more Merit Scholars and college and career ready students.  The teachers and public school districts in Michigan (thanks to education initiatives from the Obama administration, not slashed funding from the Snyder administration) are better equipped and more accountable than ever.  Also, in the decades that charter schools have existed in cities, such as Detroit and Pontiac, has education improved in those areas?  No.  Charter schools have not improved the condition of education in any low performing city in Michigan.  When primary needs such as safety and nutrition are not met, it is very difficult for students to learn.  You do not care though, do you?  You would rather use these low-performing districts as examples to divert public monies to private institutions.  The majority of districts create challenging environments for learning that prepare Michigan citizens to compete in a global economy.  Don’t destroy these districts, work to alleviate poverty in low-performing districts and give those districts the means to overcome the tremendous obstacles that their students face on a daily basis.

What will happen to accountability in education?  It will be nearly impossible to validate that every private education institution is meeting the needs of its students.  But, you already know that, don’t you?  Look at our health insurance industry.  The cost of healthcare increases 10-20% per year, yet the improvement in citizens’ health does not improve 10-20% per year.  Yet, citizens in countries like Germany pay significantly less money for healthcare and have significantly longer life expectancies.  Privatization does not necessarily work well in all industries.  In fact, some sectors are too critical to gamble away to corporate special interests.  Corporations have frequently cooked their books to make numbers convey fantasy, instead of fact.  In addition, your plan seems to hold the public school district in which a student lives accountable for the student’s performance even when the student receives part or all of his education from private vendors.  Where is the fairness in this type of system?  In effect, the private corporations and institutions (like current charter schools, online learning services, and private schools) will not be held to the same level of accountability as public school districts, schools, administrators, teachers, and staff.  In fact, public schools in Michigan have performed better with less funding and decreasing budgets.

What will happen to the quality of teachers in Michigan?  It will decrease.  But, you already know that, don’t you.  Schools receive significantly less funding under the Snyder administration and Tea Party driven legislature.  The primary obstacle to maintaining programs for students has been to decrease the benefits of teachers.  When Google wanted to attract the best talent, did it decrease the benefits of its employees?  I tried to address this issue with Gov. Snyder when he first took office.  He stated that the State of Michigan could not do anything to curb the increased costs that private insurance companies charged and, then, took away local control from school districts and mandated that school employees pay significantly more for their health insurance.  If college-aged students were deciding between becoming engineers or a secondary math teachers or project managers or elementary teachers, which careers would those individuals choose?  Sure, many current teachers will not leave their positions.  They will accept ever-increasing mandates and ever-decreasing pay and benefits.  However, Michigan will not be able to attract the best and brightest future teachers.  Computer programs and online learning cannot replace high-quality teachers who create optimal learning experiences that meet specific needs.  Often, there are social or emotional obstacles that stand in the way of learners.  These obstacles are not overcome with computers and online learning.  Finland became one of the top-performing education nations through elevating the training, status, and benefits of teachers to the training, status, and benefit level of doctors and engineers, not by attempting to treat teachers as liabilities.

Why do I care about public education so much?  I was an at-risk student from a low-income family.  Under your model, I would not have had access to online learning because my family could not afford a computer.  Under your model, I would not receive access to many of the private schools because my family could not afford the cost of transportation to drive me to those schools and both my parents worked.  Under your model, I would have been left to fend for myself in an under-resourced, under-staffed public school.  Instead, I was able to attend quality public schools, with teachers who motivated me to challenge myself, think critically, and collaborate with others.  Teachers such as Mr. Kruzman, Mr. Wilson, Ms. Aviv, Mr. Spencer, Mrs. Crenshaw, Mrs. Angott, and so, so many more were influential in my life, a little that was pretty difficult outside of school.  These incredible teachers helped me overcome a speech impediment and a fear of speaking in front of others.  They fostered creativity, goal setting, and decision making.  They taught me to write with passion and to think while I read.  When I graduated cum lauded with my Bachelor’s degree, I was at a crossroads.  I was interested in two different career paths, law and education.  I chose education because I wanted to inspire students with all types of backgrounds, ability levels, interests, and cultures to become the best learners and best people that they could become.  I, also, chose education because in the 1990’s teachers were treated with respect and dignity and fairly compensated.  I knew I would not make the same type of income as I would if I became an attorney.  However, the compensation was enough to make a decent living, to raise a family, and included a pension.  It saddens me to think your plan will hurt at-risk, disabled, and low-income families.  It saddens me to think that your plan will dissuade the next crop of great educators from choosing education as a career.  It saddens me to think that you already know all of these detrimental effects.

I am hopeful that the citizens of Michigan will stand up to you, the Mackinac Center, Gov. Snyder, and the Tea Party legislature in Michigan.  I have seen a plethora of emails and social media posts from students, the State Board of Education, parents, public school administrators, intermediate school districts, and teachers.  I am hopeful that the news organizations will begin to investigate your organization (Where did you come up with the term Oxford Foundation? We’re your members tied to previous failed voucher initiatives?), the Mackinac Center (How is it funded?  Which big business and private education organizations is it tied to?  Who funds it?), Gov. Snyder (Why did he choose Richard McLellan to write the plan?  Was he forthright about the way he would dismantle education and try to enact Right to Work legislation?  Why is he the biggest government Governor in Michigan, taking away local control?), and the Tea Party legislature (Why did the legislature pass legislation without taking counts?  Why did the legislature write hundreds of bills to destroy collective bargaining and destroy unions?  Why did the legislature write hundreds of legislation to burden districts with unnecessary paperwork and divert money from low-performing districts to high-performing “focus” schools?).  I am hopeful that the citizens in Michigan will not be fooled in the next election cycle by Tea Party propaganda of smaller government and less taxes and will, instead, vote for non-authoritarian, pro-democracy, and pro-public education representatives who will not allow deceptive organizations like the Oxford Foundation and Mackinac Center to influence their thinking and write their policies.  I am hopeful that this issue will move to the front pages and feature stories before it is too late, before the lame duck legislature can pass it and Gov. Snyder can sign it.

Jean Meconi, November 22, 2012

This bill is a poor attempt to address the inadequate funding of public education in Michigan by turning learning into a for profit business concern. The only people who matter in this equation are children and by making a business out of education the primary concern becomes profits for corporate CEOs and stockholders. We have an obligation to educate all of our children. We should use our resources for this common good. Unproven cyber learning, piecemeal programming, and nebulous student outcome assessments will leave our Michigan students ill prepared as contributing citizens. Or is this your intent?

Minesh Baxi, November 22, 2012

I support the two key features: 1. $2500 per semester passing early scholarship 2. Money goes with the student

Steven Korpusik, November 22, 2012

I think this is madness and highly dangerous. It’s a back door voucher system that will place money in the hands of a select group of individuals seeking access to the education market. It will not lead to a better education. The free market and profitability is not necessarily aimed at getting the best product. It’s about balancing quality and cost in order to come out ahead. Car companies could make more durable cars but that’s not profitable. So they make a lesser product that needs replacement prematurely. That way,the demand stays up. Consider the effects of such a policy. School districts currently serving the state and its citizens will suffer. Many of those school districts are excellent. Teacher pay and stability will be destroyed. With pay decreasing in such a system, why would our brightest students pursue this as a career? A temporary job (like TFA) but not for the long-term. And the endless shifting of students, often in the midst of the school year, will require staffing adjustments meaning hiring and layoffs which become unpredictable. Teachers will need to sharpen those resumes annually. Who would subject themselves to such professional instability. The most far-fetched part is that there will be a complex assessment tool to determine student growth quality. What makes anyone think this will be done or is even possible? Assessments have been crafted for decades and even the testmakers note their gross level of imperfection. This is a dream and an unreasonable and arrogant one at best. It’s merely included to fool the naive and to soothe the nervous. I also don’t get this tremendous faith in online schooling. Ever look at K12 Inc.’s statistics? They’re embarrassing. Colorado Virtual Academy is on the brink of losing its charter. Online universities are plummeting in the stock market due to low quality. Here’s what the document intends to truly do: Destabilize the profession of teaching Unleash market forces with no guarantee of quality Shift public money into private entrepreneurial hands Create vouchers (disguise it however you want with terminology, but it’s vouchers) End traditional public education (no secret there) What’s most interesting is that this forum will largely be ignored by the “experts” at the Oxford Foundation. This is a game to claim that you listened but you already know what you’re going to propose. You’re not that interested in what educators have to say. The end result is that you’ll create an unstable system, quality will drop (it definitely will), teachers will flee the state and prospective teachers won’t stay either, compensation will be low, teacher morale will be lower, at-will employment will be the norm (so better kiss that administrators tuckus), and the turnover of staffs will be quicker than a fast food restaurant. It’s not education reform. It’s about money and who gets it.

Gayle Chappell, November 22, 2012

388.1605 Sec 5. (2) on p.18 – What is an “Intermediate District”? the definition on page 18 seems to be a disingenuous term of art: “(2) “Intermediate district” means an intermediate school district established under part 7 of the revised school code.” In other words, from what I take this to mean, an “Intermediate District” is an “Intermediate District” because this section says it is an “Intermediate District”. DEFINE “INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT” AS AN ACTUAL ENTITY. From this section forward in your draft, you predominantly list “Intermediate District” immediately after “District” as though it carries the same # performance criteria requirements, student & school evaluation weights & receives the same funding as each “District”. 388.1606 Sec 6. (4) on pp. 19-20 – Why isn’t each school’s “Membership” simply determined by an average of the count days in each school year? Are you saying that the state would refuse to provide funding for a student’s presence in a specific school of that school fails to fulfill some performance requirement? If, as is claimed, the money is supposed to follow the student, the school that houses that student MUST receive the full funding for that student regardless of its overall ‘performance count’. Not doing that deprives the remainder of the students in that school from money that would be available to improve their education. 388.1606e – Are you saying that the state would refuse to provide funding for a student’s presence in a specific school of that student fails to fulfill some performance requirement? If, as is claimed, the money is supposed to follow the student, the school that houses that student MUST receive the full funding for that student regardless of its overall ‘performance count’. Not doing that deprives the remainder of the students in that school from money that would be available to improve their education. PLEASE DELETE THIS ENTIRE SECTION. Surely it is unconstitutional to allow one student’s failure to achieve pre determined performance levels to cut the funding available to ensure another, unrelated student has access to resources that may assist his/her ability to reach the same pre determined performance levels. If it is not now, then it should be very soon. 388.1606(4)(f) – p. 22 – Why is a student enrolled in a “career and technical education program supported by a millage levied over an area larger than a single district” counted as a member of his district of residence instead of in the district where the supporting millage is levied? 388.1611 (? I cannot trace the rest of the section number) see p. 56, lines 8-15 – “(5) Money in the school aid stabilization fund at the close of a fiscal year shall remain in the school aid stabilization fund and shall not lapse to the unreserved school aid fund balance or the general fund. (6) If the maximum amount appropriated under section 11 from the state school aid fund for a fiscal year exceeds the amount available for expenditure from the state school aid fund for that fiscal year, there is appropriated from the school aid stabilization fund to the state school aid fund an amount equal to the projected shortfall as determined by the department of treasury, but not to exceed available money in the school aid stabilization fund.” Now, let me get this right – any money left in the school aid stabilization fund at the end of a fiscal year STAYS there & does NOT transfer to the unreserved or general funds BUT the state school aid fund can take ALL the money if it’s short at the end of the fiscal year? NO! IF YOU SAY THE MONEY WILL STAY IN THE SCHOOL AID STABILIZATION (key word) FUND, LEAVE IT THERE! DELETE PART (6). 388.1620 – pp. 94 – 110 – this entire section should be simplified to “For 2011-2012, and for 2012-2013, the basic foundation allowance is $8,019.00 per student. Any district that raises additional education funding through public or private sources shall be allowed to keep all of that money without any demand from the state to share those funds with another district or any attempt by the state to reduce the allotted basic foundation allowance of $8,019.oo per student.” Simple, easy to understand. DELETE 16 PAGES WORTH OF FUNDING CALCULATIONS. THEN DELETE SECTION 388.1656. 388.1651a(7)(c) – pp. 190, line 20 – 191, line 2 – “If the amount of the excess allocations under subsections (2), (3), 20 (6), and (11) and sections 53a, 54, and 56 is not sufficient to fully fund the calculation of reimbursement to those districts and intermediate districts under this subdivision, then the calculations and resulting reimbursement under this subdivision shall be prorated on an equal 1 percentage basis. This reimbursement shall not be made after 2014-2015.” WHY WILL THE REIMBURSEMENT NOT BE MADE AFTER 2014 – 2015? DO YOU PLAN TO DO AWAY WITH THESE PROGRAMS ENTIRELY? 388.1651a(8) – p. 192 – “A pupil who is enrolled in a full-time special education program conducted or administered by an intermediate district or a pupil who is enrolled in the Michigan schools for the deaf and blind shall not be included in the membership count of a district, but shall be counted in membership in the intermediate district of residence.” In 388.1606(4)(a), Membership is defined as “(a) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, and pursuant to subsection (6) (10), a pupil shall be counted in membership in the pupil’s educating district or districts. An individual pupil shall not be counted for more than a total of 1.0 full-time equated membership.” WHY ARE SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENT MEMBERSHIPS DETERMINED BY “INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT OF RESIDENCE” INSTEAD OF “PUPIL’S EDUCATING DISTRICT OR DISTRICTS.” WHAT IS GAINED BY SUCH A DISTINCTION? 388.1652 – p. 196 – “Reimbursement for the necessary costs of special education programs and services shall be a portion determined by the amount allocated under section 51a(1), but not to exceed 75% of the total approved costs of operating special education programs and services approved by the department and included or applying for inclusion in the intermediate district plan…” WHY ARE YOU ONLY PAYING 75% OF APPROVED COSTS? Later in the same paragraph you state “If the state financed proportion of reimbursement of the necessary costs of a special education activity or service required by article 3 of the revised school code, MCL 380.1701 to 380.1766, which is in addition to or different from the special education activities or services required under sections 611 to 620 of part B of the individuals with disabilities education act, title VI of Public Law 91-230, 20 U.S.C. 1411 to 1420, is less than the state financed proportion of the necessary costs of that activity or service in 1978-79, the portion of the amount appropriated shall be increased to 4 reimburse that activity or service accordingly.” WHY NOT SIMPLY SAY 1) SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS ARE MEMBERS OF THEIR EDUCATING DISTRICTS AND 2) THE STATE WILL FUND 100% OF THE APPROVED COSTS? THEN TOTALLY DELETE 388.1653A, 1654 & 1658. 388.1707 – pp. 264 – 272 – Michigan is one of the last states to allow its basic education students to remain in school, continuing to learn how to cope with & function in the ‘real’ world, through the age of 26. IS GOV. SNYDER USING THIS SECTION TO REDUCE BENEFITS TO THOSE IN GREATEST NEED FOR EXTENDED SCHOOLING? The section also says continued participation by a student who “fails to show progress on 2 successive assessments after having completed at least 450 hours of instruction” will not be reimbursed. These are students who do not learn as quickly, hence the “basic education” class distinction. The per student funding has been cut in this section from the basic foundation allowance amount of $8019.00 per student to $2,850.00 per student. Exactly how much are they expected to learn with less than 1/3 of the resources available to the General Education students? IS GOV. SNYDER USING THIS SECTION TO REDUCE BENEFITS TO THOSE IN GREATEST NEED FOR EXTENDED SCHOOLING? Yes, the section says the student can continue in the program in exchange for paying a sliding-scale tuition. These students & their families already pay enormous financial penalties in every aspect of life working to help the student achieve at their maximum capacity. IS GOV. SNYDER USING THIS SECTION TO REDUCE BENEFITS TO THOSE IN GREATEST NEED FOR EXTENDED SCHOOLING? I agree that each school district should be required to submit a balanced budget. I cannot even begin to understand how they are supposed to educate students when you cut their funding because they failed to submit a balanced budget. This Draft is a mess and the Governor’s plan a disaster waiting to happen. And my daughter is going to pay the price. Thank you.

Scott Warrow, November 23, 2012

This Oxford Foundation plan is absolutely ridiculous. I want my children to get more funding for their school, not some radical untested program that benefits out of state for profit companies. The governor and his ideologues in Congress aim to rand sack public education for some garbage free-market philosophy that has no basis of workability in the foundation of schooling in America, which is to provide free public education of equitable quality to all kids. To achieve this, schools need to be refunded the over $2 billion dollars that the legislature took from them over the last two years. The criticism about students not being college ready is just non-sense. Those claims are based on standardized tests whose predictive measurements have been proven inaccurate and skewed. The governor is cherry-picking the data to suit his privatization agenda. The actual evidence attests that Michigan Students are doing very well at post-secondary institutions.

Julie Heise, November 25, 2012

Why does this proposal NOT address special education?

Aaron Davison, November 25, 2012

I don’t see how this values the education that a student receives in terms of peer relationships and how to develop real world interaction skills. By allowing a student to work solely online it opens the door for massive amounts of academic falsifications. As an educator who has experience with students using online credit recovery programs, it is a simple thing for a student to give their identification number to a friend or sibling who excels at a particular subject and have them complete the course work.

I also don’t see where this values the hard work and skills attained by educators to help guarantee the academic success of the leaders of tomorrow. This will take away jobs in a State that is supposedly committed to job creation. How in good conscience can this be allowed to even become an option during a time of massive economic restructuring? I see teachers moving to States or Countries that value education and educators.

Congratulations Governor Snyder and cronies for manufacturing more coffin nails with which to make sure that this State falls apart. As an educator, I want to apologize to you for whatever a teacher in your past did to you, please don’t let one or two teachers who treated you unfairly influence your decisions on the current field of education. We are hard working and dedicated individuals who deserve the same amount of respect as any other field, but it seems that no matter how hard we try or how hard we work we are pushed to the bottom of the heap. It saddens me to know that we are looked at by most as pariahs of society and unfortunately this idea has come from the higher ups in our society, namely politicians.

I hope you all have a joyous holiday season, I on the other hand will be spending my time updating my résumé and looking for work in a field that I did not go to school for just so I can pay my bills.

Tamera L. Powers, November 25, 2012

After reading Appendix B relating to on-line classes I have a couple questions I am hoping that can be answered.  In the examples provided, 50% of the contracted amount would be provided upon enrollment.  Does this mean if a student enrolls in September with a school then 50% of the amount is provided in September or is it obligated to be paid as the enrolling district begins to receive funds in October in 1/11 increments as received from the state?  If it is provided immediately I can see an even larger portion of funds being wasted on interest to borrow for the immediate payments required since state payments do not begin until 1 2/3 of a month of education have passed.

Also, the remaining payment of 40% for proficiency or 50% for mastery, what will be the determining factor for proficiency or mastery?  I am asking this as a parent not a director of finance.   I want to know the on-line course is truly a value to my child’s education and not a time waster that we find out later was missing in necessary content. As a mother of a college senior and high school junior I do not appreciate tax payer money and/or my money being
wasted on classes with inadequate content.  What will be the determining factor that a class is providing adequate content as it proclaims and how will I as a parent know my child has actually learned the content?  Will we as parents receive any rating information to know a class is a quality on line class before enrollment?

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions as I am certain you have many questions being asked of you.

Eric Davidson, November 26, 2012

I noticed one of your ideas for school reform includes a year round schedule with no more than 2 months off at a time. I invite you a review a highly successful year round schedule where we send our daughter, Carpenter Elementary in Lake Orion. http://www.lakeorion.k12.mi.us/carpenter/index.html

To get into Carpenter, parents have to win a lottery as this schedule is much sought after. The kids get out of school for summer on the same day as their peers for a roughly 9 week break. This ends up being plenty and the kids are eager to return to school in early August. The school calendar is here: http://www.lakeorion.k12.mi.us/SchoolInformation/YRE_2012-13.pdf

The results? Our kids retain more. The first month of class is not wasted playing catch up. Carpenter has higher test scores than any elementary school in Lake Orion.

A group that will fight you on this is those that support tourism. Carpenter students’ first week generally starts the middle of the first week of August, they have the next Friday off and then get 6 days off for Labor Day. This leaves plenty of time to get in those final summer getaways.

You may see resistance from working parents to a year round schedule due to the erratic time off. Carpenter’s additional 3 weeks that are tacked on to typical vacation periods throughout the year, but parents have an option during those 3 weeks to send their child to school on the bus for a nominal fee, typically $110, for a week long themed “Intersession.” It’s a like a week long field trip with themes like “How it’s made,” dinosaurs and Hawaii/Alaska.

This modified year round schedule is not as radical a change for people to understand and adjust to. Please study it further. Marion Ginopolis is our superintendent and I can put you in contact with a few of the board members if you would like to learn more.

And thank you for the work you are doing. I have to say I’m a fan.

Nora Thompson, November 26, 2012

I have been reading the literature regarding the proposed changes to the School Aid Act.  I am glad people are thinking more carefully about how Michigan is providing education services.  However, I am not sure this is the way to improve education for children.

I have been a teacher in Michigan for 29 years and am currently working with young children in Lansing.  I visit infants and toddlers who have disabilities in their homes or daycare centers and work with their parents or care providers.  This new proposed act says “funding will truly follow the student” as they choose anywhere in Michigan to take a course.  It also says that online courses will be available to children as well.

I work in the environment of poverty for most all of my families.  They do not have cars, computers, or internet access.  They are being evicted from homes and let go from their minimum wage jobs.  They use the Food Bank for their families and take the bus or walk to get their food.  These families will not be able to go “anywhere” to take quality courses.  These families will not be able to use online coursework.  The urban schools they attend will lose the few students whose parents have transportation to other districts and their local schools will decline in quality.  The well off will have more opportunities and the poor will have less.

This is not right.  Equity needs to be examined in this proposal.  Private companies will profit.  Public schools will decline.  Children of poverty will not be able to access this new way of education.  Please take time to look at all students and how this will affect them.  Michigan should not be the state that ignores the poor.  I would be glad to have a conversation with you regarding my experience helping these families in order to assist in giving perspective to this proposal.

Kathy Mroz, November 26, 2012

I have recently read the plan that the governor or Michigan has proposed for our public schools.  After review, I find numerous concerns.  How does this help poor districts, students with special needs, or hands on curriculum?  It seems that this would leave many student’s needs unmet and destine to fail.  After looking at everything this may have been developed to help for profit schools succeed and at risk students to fail. Computers can not replace the relationship and connection that teachers make with their students.  This is not the direction I want Michigan education to take.

Laura Daly, November 26, 2012

This administration is so concerned about unemployment??? This plan will increase unemployment. This will wipe out public education, make the rich-richer, keep middle class kids with working class parents out of the reach of a college education, strip parks and recreation programs, destroy tourism in the state and continue the path of spiraling downward in education. This plan will also again give the people NO say in their local schools. Up until now the school board members vote on whether or not the district will become open enrollment. Now, this plan once again tells us that we have NO say in our local schools and in our decision making. A millage will never pass with this plan. This is not allowing opportunities for students–its allowing the demise of public education and lowering property values. Many people purchase homes for the schools—what now????? This plan is junk. What about making parents accountable for teaching their children to eat while sitting down, or tying their shoes, or knowing what their name is??? But I forgot that will never happen since they elect you and you don’t want to make people accountable. Performance based funding is WRONG. Many, many of our students come to us lacking simple skills. They are lacking due to the marriage gap, entitlement, and the parents who are more concerned about the cell phone calls or the fight they are having with a boyfriend or girlfriend than paying attention to their own child. The money that this administration has stolen from public education is criminal. I am sure most of you who vote on more cuts for public education have children who attend/attended private schools, no children at all or have private tutors. Get real–invest in education not cut it to shreds.

Jeffrey L. Salisbury, November 26, 2012

What’s the Matter with Michigan? By Nancy Flanagan on November 24, 2012 4:01 PM For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. Ralph Waldo Emerson So–on this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m trying to be more grateful for what’s working fine. I’m also trying not to be angry so often. There’s a lot to be angry about, from Black Friday and Wal-Mart, to the fact that my teaching colleagues make 1/225th what the average CEO makes. Big things to get steamed about. Little things to irritate. Mostly, what I’m stressing over this weekend, however, is Michigan, my Michigan–and the Big Scary Plan to gut public funding of community schools by “unbundling” (a euphemism if there ever was one) the services public schools traditionally provide. It’s a complex issue (which makes it even more dangerous). In a nutshell, the proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act (which would replace the existing School Aid Act of 1979) erases school attendance boundaries, allowing students to take their assigned chunk of funding and use it anywhere they like (if the receiving school agrees), including taking courses in multiple locations. The legislation also throws a big, juicy bone to the Wild West of on-line education, reinforces test-based “performance,” and gives students $2500 per semester for early graduation. Reading the entire plan is an exercise in disbelief, anxiety and invisible hand-euphemism overload–a “dynamic choice” system, blah blah blah. Would the good people of Michigan really allow their public education system (which was once highly regarded) to be exploded and then re-marketed, in pieces? The slogan: Any time, Any place, Any way, Any pace. Catchy. The Grand Rapids Press says the plan “merits debate, not immediate partisan dismissal.” I’m 100% for bi-partisan debate on the proposal, as long as it’s thoughtful, carried out over a significant time frame, and wide open to everyone who will be impacted (which is pretty much everyone in Michigan). Let’s foster a debate that happens any time, any place, any–well, you get it. Let’s not have another ugly, tit-for-tat power struggle in Lansing like the Emergency Manager workaround–where the express will of the voters is being denigrated– or legislative threats to impose right to work. It’s way past time for a discussion on how to genuinely strengthen and adequately fund Michigan schools. Here are the points I’d like to contribute: • There’s a reason we have school boundaries. They were developed a century ago, as Michigan communities began to proudly erect their own high schools, building stronger on-site educational opportunities for their children and their neighbors’ children. We also have school of choice legislation, which allows schools to accept students from outside their boundaries, and the funding that comes with them. And we already know how that works (see: Grosse Pointe). So we already know who will want to participate in “open” enrollment, and who will be unwilling to share their accrued educational goodies. And–not to put too fine a point on it–who wants to offer “courses” to whom. • While students in high school do select which courses they want to take–within limits–the first nine years of a K-12 education are not currently set up as a series of “choosing courses.” In fact, the first six years or so are universally about building a cooperative learning community, mastering and applying basic skills and acquiring foundational knowledge. Any child who has bounced from school to school in the elementary grades will tell you it’s a miserable experience. Presumably this idea that MI students will be getting the best of the best via “choice” doesn’t apply to third graders–or, really, more than half our students, who are too young to make informed choices and instead need a solid home base, continuity and a series of great teachers. • Furthermore–haven’t public schools already made tons of cooperative arrangements to offer/access German III via distance learning or Brakes & Suspension certification via county-wide Ed Tech centers? Without disrupting the current funding mechanism? Yes, I know what’s happened to vocational centers, in the wake of the MI Merit Curriculum and “college for all,” but I am deeply suspicious of advertising the wonders of a class here and a class there–or “unbundling” shared-resource plans that are already working. • Is this really all about the barely-tapped on-line education market? (Cheap!”Efficient!”) Because luring secondary and even elementary students into “21st century” on-line charters has been an incredible boondoggle for lots of unsavory but entrepreneurial folks. The kids aren’t doing very well, but it takes awhile to figure that out (via testing, of course). In the meantime, somebody gets to be a lucrative start-up, without a lot of upfront, bricks-and-mortar capital. Here’s the other thing about on-line classes: they require technology. Bring your own. Another savings for venture capitalists–and another economic dividing line. • About the $2500 payoff for every semester kids avoid in high school? I’m guessing that was a sop to community colleges and state universities, who are likely to be down with an incentive system that could get 17-year olds through their doors sooner. What other reason would there be to put scarce state money in the hands of teenagers? Of course, they’d have to take extra on-line courses to graduate early… (see previous bullet) • Has the legislature considered all the auxiliary services and programming that community schools provide, and how they will be impacted by dismantling the funding system? Sports? Clubs? After-school programming, daycare, community education and a place for senior citizens? Ceremonies and events? There’s a lot of value and tradition embedded in community schools–isn’t that worth a great deal? My biggest fear is not change. There are plenty of reasons to change funding mechanisms–and lots of other things–in Michigan education policy. Nor is this a partisan argument made by a teacher. In fact, preserving public schools and investing in them is a very conservative idea. Even Checker Finn has become skeptical about money and reform: Finn said he has become “cynical” about the for-profit model in education. “Shareholder return ends up trumping the best interests of students,” he said. Having watched education management companies for 20 years, “Most of the models I admire today are run by non-profit groups.” My fear is that we will jump too quickly into yet another seductive scheme to “disrupt”–and lose decades of work and good will. I want to be happy this Thanksgiving weekend. That’s all. Nancy Flanagan is an education writer and consultant focusing on teacher leadership. She spent 30 years in a K-12 music classroom in Hartland, Mich, and was named Michigan Teacher of the Year in 1993. She is National Board-certified, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network. She welcomes feedback on her sharp-eyed perspectives on the inconsistencies and inspirations, the incomprehensible, immoral and imaginative, in American education. She is a digital organizer for IDEA (Institute for Democratic Education in America). You can follow her on Twitter @nancyflanagan.

Daniel Baum, November 26, 2012

Keep me updated, please.

Nikia Thomas, November 26, 2012

I don’t think it would be fair to provide funding based on performance. -I don’t agree with the idea of allowing students to access online learning materials at the cost of the state I think there should be a way that the federal government should be able to eat the expense. -I don’t agree with the idea of per pupil funding being split amongst multiple districts I think this isn’t fair to the districts and I think it will cause problems and conflicts. -I am also opposed to year round schooling.

Daniel Rubenstein, November 26, 2012

I strongly disagree with performance based funding. In 1994, Michigan citizens spoke loud and clear with the passage of Proposal A. Proposal A sought to redress funding inequities across districts in part to ensure equality of opportunity, the bedrock of democracy and justice. Performance based funding will most likely penalize kids who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in poor schools. You may think performance funding penalizes only schools, but that is naive or disingenuous. I urge you to respect the will of the voters and the requirements of justice in deleting performance based funding from this proposal.

R. Biondo, November 26, 2012

I am not in favor of Gov. Snyder’s proposal to replace the School Aid Act of 1979 for several reasons. 1. What about Title 1 schools and their funding? What do you propose for the underprivileged students? 2. Online education does not seem feasible. Where are the students expected to get internet access….not all families have a computer or the internet. 3. How is it possible to keep track of funding through online classes and when students have the choice to flip flop school districts? 4. Allowing school of choice for all students could potentially overwhelm some school districts and forces others to close down completely. 5. When measuring performance other factors such as socioeconomic status should be taken into consideration. 6. Property value in neighborhoods would decline.

Amy Ann Moore, November 26, 2012

If you want county schools – be more clear. Help our communities support schools by volunteering and making that easier. If there is space in classrooms – taxpayers should be allowed to audit the class by passing a background check and attending the class. Schools are for education – if community members are supporting schools, they shoudl be allowed ot reap the benefits: take classes, swim in the pool, use the weight room, interact. Help communities utilize schools and the primary community focal point. Help the state budget – pass through as much as possible to locals. Have county ISD’s perform some functions and oversight that is currently done at the state level. Be generous and save money, by passing these jobs down to the local level.

Donna Weeldreyer, November 27, 2012

Several questions. Who or what is “the center”? Where is it located? Who is watching this “center”? Who do they answer to? With the any pace part of Governor Snyder”s proposal, what happens if the child’s pace is less than a year’s growth? Will you punish the school despite the fact it is the child’s pace? How will you assess this? When is the state government going to see this? How long will changes be allowed to take place? I am hearing that this “document” is being pushed to be voted on during this lame duck session. Why the hurry? Wouldn’t it be prudent to make sure it is something we can live with? Unlike a number of recent documents that have been “passed so we can read it”?

Ashley Ahlin, November 27, 2012

I have read with interest the Proposed Legislation for Michigan Public Education Finance Project. I am hopeful for changes like these. I have a particular concern for the needs of students who are not being challenged by their local public schools, having mastered substantial portions of the “Common Core curriculum” for their grade level. I would very much like to see local districts freed from “seat time” requirements so that children aren’t bound to sit in classrooms where they are not learning anything, but instead the district has an incentive to provide learning opportunities–whether those are typical “online” courses, or more generally education outside of the school district, including part-time homeschooling, or other learning opportunities, even at the elementary level. Thank you for your consideration.

Steve Elliott, November 27, 2012

While I found many appealing concepts in the report, it seems to treat all schools as if they are all in need of reform. There are many, many schools graduating very competent students. And yes, there are those consistently low-performing schools that most likely need to be closed or at least consolidated with a neighboring higher-performing schools. But it misses the mark. A simpler yet politically risky option is to fund all schools equally and then work to make all schools excellent. Very little in this report suggests reforms to create financial and academic excellent schools. What happens at the high performing schools that isn’t happening at the low-performing schools? Generate options to reduce the differences, financially and academically.

Casey Petz, November 27, 2012

Dear People That Are Trying to Ruin Education in Michigan – First and foremost, let me just start with something that I believe to be true with all my being. I believe that the best people to ask about how to fix education are actual teachers, principals, and superintendents that are successful in the field of teaching and leadership…not a hand picked panel of people that the “Oxford Foundation” believes to know what is best. Do any of the so called experts have ANY idea what it is like to be an educator? Spare me the details about how you surveyed teachers, picked people from the field of education, or talked to parents. I am not concerned about that…let’s start with some facts. This “Oxford Foundation” was formed to (at the request of a non educator – Gov Snyder) to take a look at the way schools are funded and run in the state of Michigan. The man selected to carry out this task….an attorney! Are you kidding me? The best person we could find to lead the charge in changing EVERY ASPECT of the way students are educated in Michigan is an attorney. This is insane. Question for you, if you need advice on how to do your job, would you call a plumber or a mechanic? I think not….you would ask an expert. Can somebody explain to me how the leader of this whole mess is an EXPERT in the field of education? Bottom line for me, this idea is something I will fight with every fiber of my being. Are there some good ideas contained in the proposal, of course there are, but the idea that we are going to toss out our current system without looking at research, data from recently formed charters, listening to the real experts (teachers and respected leaders in education), and ram it all through in 12 months time is beyond foolish. Rick Snyder, Republicans that believe all our schools are broken, and anyone associated with this mess better come to their senses…or there will be serious consequences come election time. Have we not learned the lessons of past failures? How did a voucher system work out last time around? Ladies and Gentleman, this proposal is going to fail and will not be supported…which is a TOTAL shame because some of the ideas are great and would benefit our kids. But God Damn It people, get it through your heads, this isn’t the way to do it. I leave you with something that I find so offensive and wrong that I am literally sick to my stomach about it. Please read the following quote from the leader of this mess (Mr. McLellan) – What is McLellan’s vision for Michigan if the reforms become law? “I’d hope that we’d find that kids in third grade could actually read,” he said bluntly. “We want to be on our way to having a literate Michigan population. We can’t say that today.” What the hell are you talking about Mr. McLellan? Since when did a majority (or anywhere even close to that) of 3rd grade students in this state forget how to read? If the statement above is an indication of how Mr. McLellan really feels about our public education system in Michigan, then this thing is doomed. I suggest that the Governor and the supporters of this proposal wake up before it is too late. Keep acting this way and see how passionate people are going to get about fighting this thing to the death. Teachers, parents, school boards, principals, administrators will line up to see this thing fail…and once again, the kids will suffer because the good ideas will be lost in the shuffle and stupid decisions. Sincerely, A disappointed, frustrated, irate, and genuinely concerned citizen.

Diane Bruder, November 27, 2012

I strongly oppose the Michigan Public Education Finance Act to replace the existing School Aid Act of 1979 for a number of reasons: 1. As a taxpayer we voted NO on using taxpayer funds to support and create charter schools. I don’t think it is fair to taxpayers to go push this through without their vote. 2. There is not enough evidence or proof that charter schools outperform public schools. Where will the accountability be for these new schools. I think you need a 4-5 year study BEFORE you even try to phase it in. Let’s hear from teachers and students from schools like Muskegon Heights who have been forced into becoming charter schools and use them as a test pilot to show proof this will work. 3. Taking money away from public schools and making the money follow the kids is a sure way to kill public education once and for all. Instead of killing what has worked for years look to ways to help fix it. Rather than give tax breaks to corporations, invest in schools, teacher training, professional development and enrichment programs for students. 4. Under this proposal I understand that schools can pick and choose who they want. Well, schools will pick the brightest kids so that performance money comes their way. Where does this leave special needs kids? Who will want to educate them? What about our poor and disadvantaged kids? The way I see this it will create more of a divide among social economic classes, races, and separate kids by ability. The whole reason of public education and inclusion in the classroom is to foster an equitable education for all. We do not need to move backward in time to the land of segregation. This bill erases all the benefits of public education. It has its faults like any business, but it has many advantages, too. I worry in our effort to provide education anytime, and anywhere we forget about the who and the how to make it fair and equitable so no child is left behind. 5. If we really want to fix public education we need to look at poverty in this state. Many kids come to school without basic needs met. It is not the kids from affluent homes who are failed by the system but the poor ones. If we bring better paying jobs to Michigan it will help the educational system. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to give money to schools to help them rather than cut funds and expect them to do more with less. This has set them up for failure. 6. If you really want to set up a committee to help fix the problems of public education, why not involve teachers on the panel? Afterall, they are the professionals in the trenches…working with the kids, and know education policy. It makes more sense than some think tank called the Oxford Foundation (which probably has nothing to do with education or Oxford University)and a lawyer. You wouldn’t try to fix the ills of the medical field without first consulting doctors and nurses who work there, would you? 7. This project is detrimental to the teaching profession and our future economy. It forces teachers to work year round, and will undoubtedly cut their pay. Many will be laid off, too. Why? Because money does NOT go to the schools anymore but follows the kids. Can we afford to lose quality teachers in the classroom? If you look at the number of people entering the teaching profession in Michigan and even seeing it through to completion you will see the numbers are WAY down. This is not only going to hurt the education of our kids but our future economy. 8. I have read your proposal and the proposal of Michigan 2020, and like the ideas and funding for Michigan 2020 much better. It is less punitive and more rewarding for both schools, the employees who work there and the students. Please feel free to contact me via my email.

Andrew Haltom, November 27, 2012

My comment is not necessarily targeting education finance – I am focused in on the problem with our State’s education model. I am a first-year teacher in a CTE center. I have come from the private sector of business, following a passion for education. Throughout all of my training, I have read and listened to countless suggestions (and declarations) for the shortcomings of our education. The fingers are pointed in many directions – the legislature, the administrators, the teachers, and the students. Nowhere in the debate is there an examination of the parents or guardians of students. The education system is being held accountable for learning, yet the existing system receives children that are passed some of the most significant stages of cognitive development. Beyond the issue of early childhood education – what kind of influence could parents and guardians have on our education system if they were welcome in our classrooms (visits beyond the parent-teacher conferences)? The parents are stakeholders in their child’s education and there should be more quality information sharing between the classroom and the home-front. You may assemble the most brilliant plan for education – but if you do not gain the support of our parents, the struggle will continue indefinitely.

Nicole Menuck, November 27, 2012

In a state like Michigan that relies on tourism dollars, and advertises to attract tourists, I do not at all agree with encouraging year round schools. This would have a very negative impact on so many industries/businesses that rely on summer travel. Year round school would be a devastating blow to Michigan’s economy, this is not something Michigan can afford.

Dr. John “Kip” Walker, November 27, 2012

As a former public school superintendent, I am certainly in favor of making schools the best they can be by putting improved student learning as the top priority. Read all the related research on best practices for classrooms and schools and you will find one major factor throughout most of the literature; great teaching supported by great leadership make all the difference. Any pending legislation must have this at its core. If not, we have wasted another effort in the name of “change.” Finally, lets not forget that all students do not learn in the same ways or in the same time frame. Alternative Education ( a plan that works for each individual student) is real change, but takes great courage. Please research existing models where schools are doing well by reaching and teaching students, regardless of SES (socioeconomic status). These models are everywhere, if you know where to look. Thank you for allowing me to comment.

Shelly Ochodnicky, November 27, 2012

First and foremost these bills are unconstitutional. Keep the control of public education within the local government not with the governor. Why take public education apart? Why not better it, support it. ALL children deserve an equal education in America. I am afraid these bills will segregate children by academics and by socioeconomic. That is not ok. Again, all children should be offered the same opportunities. I am no sure the benefit of allowing the school system to work for the parents? Education is a forever changing, evolving challenge for the experts. I am a very involved parent but have been it of school for nearly 25 years. I do not claim to know what is the latest and greatest in curriculum. I cannot imagine that single parent working trying to figure out what is best for their child and having the time to do that. I again believe local government and keep public education in tact. Do not go against your constitution, thank you.

Ben Cross, November 27, 2012

This bill does not go far enough. Open it up and make it a true voucher system, and let parents send their children to private schools. Why should private education by available only to those who can afford it?

Joshua Budden, November 27, 2012

I am very concerned about this project. You don’t want to mix public funds for education and private companies that are for profit. We are already seeing the consequences of this. Look at online learning. Private companies are taking money from the state by offering students online classes. These online classes basically give students credit. Computers grade writing, students are allowed to cheat, and yet students continue to earn credit and nothing is done because it’s a revenue stream for universities and companies who lobby lawmakers to encourage more online learning. The universities and businesses then make earning credit easier to encourage more students to take online classes so that they can earn more money. Now this bill or bills wants to ramp this up? Terrible idea and I will not support anyone who supports this. Stop going after teachers so desperately that you’re willing to really put taxpayer money in the hands of private companies that will only lobby for more money without providing results. Bad idea. Bad idea Bad idea. Plus forcing schools to maintain buildings that are not in use until a charter decides if they want to use the building when the cost of maintaining an empty building could be spent on kids in the full buildings? That’s cruel. “I’m sorry kids you don’t get these education materials because we have to pay a million dollars to keep that empty building across town clean for another charter that may or may not wish to move in there.” Stupid and cruel.

Stefanie Brege, November 27, 2012

Most of the objectives for this new bill would seriously cripple the educational system. It makes educators nervous, and for good reason. You cannot have “funding based on performance, once the proper assessment and testing mechanisms are in place.” Not all students do well on the standardized assessments that would probably be used. Most of my students would not do well. Until there are multiple assessments made to suit the multiple learning styles, it is not fair to give out funding based on performance.

John Barrett, November 27, 2012

Increasing the performance standards for all schools in the state is needed, however, unfettered, unregulated new school policies would bring chaos and confusion to Michigan’s educational system. These new policies will destroy property values and scare away those considering moving to Michigan.

Amy Weglarz, November 27, 2012

SLOW DOWN. First our schools are required to do more standardized testing, which leads to “teaching to the test” which does not educate our students properly, than the schools are graded on these test scores to receive funding. Now you want to open the schools to all students every where when we, as parents, do not have any concrete measure of success for these schools? I moved to my current location because I went to that school district. I was familiar with the standard level of education, I knew what the goals and ambitions of the school district were (are), and I agreed to their logical and directed approach to education. I may disagree with some of the choices my school district has made (Everyday Math being a big one) but I know with out a doubt that my children are receiving a wonderful education taught by dedicated individuals. This “any time, any place” approach will obliterate a sense of community for the children and parents. This community that is created allows for open communication, easy access to the school leaders (both in the school and on an administrative level) and a collective “voice” to help discover what directions our schools should be taking to improve the education that those children are receiving. School of choice is failing across the country, and soon it will fail here in Michigan. I implore you to reconsider what truly matters in education. PEOPLE. Good teachers, involved parents, and happy children. How can a parent be truly involved in a wonderful school community if that community is half-way across town and the child goes to that school because some standardized test score graded that school better? Is it not more important that the child is learning? That the child is surrounded by a positive community, that the child is excelling in the academics? I don’t care what some standardize test score says about a school, or a child! I want to see the results in my child’s every day life, not on a flimsy piece of paper generated by a computer is some building far away! What about special education? What about those students that need that extra education? What will happen to them? And their programs? They matter just as much as any other child! For years we have seen spending cut which has decreased funding to our arts programs in the schools. Math and science educations are enriched and improved by the addition of Music programs. Art programs add to the understanding, and out-of-the-box thinking that is required and sought after in English and Literature curriculum. Colleges want to see students excelling in academics while being active in their communities and in the arts and culture sectors. Speaking of arts and culture, there is plenty of research that supports the notion that arts and culture greatly improve not only one’s quality of life, but their education!!! So please, SLOW DOWN. Really consider every aspect of what direction you are dragging our schools! Consider what people are saying, the NEGATIVE reaction many parents are having to these proposed ideas. Think about the communities that will be destroyed, the values that will be taken away; The children that will be affected. What is being proposed has not been proven to succeed, it has more often proven to fail. IT FAILS FOR THE STUDENT. IT FAILS FOR THE CHILDREN. After all, the children is what this is all about! Maybe, just maybe, we should stop and ask the children what they think we should do?

Phyllis Wahlberg, November 27, 2012

SLOW DOWN on educational reform. CHANGE is not reform, nor is choice. We need improvement, not just change. Where is the quality assurance?? Charter and online do NOT show great educational improvement of those who participate. Studies show that parents do not choose schools because they have better learning outcomes for their schools. Plenty of additional choices have opened up in the last decade. Let’s work on improving those choices before diluting the quality even more.

Judith Phillips, November 27, 2012

There are so many disturbing things about this draft! The biggest, for me, is the idea of corporations making money by running schools. All privatization does, in any form, is add another layer of cost, and allow private companies to make money from public entities. That may be good for the companies, but it’s incredibly bad for the public. We have already seen a flood of for-profit corporations come to Michigan to run charter schools. They make money by siphoning off funds that should be used for students and staff- and there is no proof that the students are getting a better education in any way. We need to remove the middlemen, and to put proper school funding directly into the schools, where it belongs. Investing in a laundry list of ALEC-inspired educational experiments is not good for our students or our state. Our governor can afford to send his children to expensive private schools. Those of us who cannot also deserve for our children to get a free public education, as has been offered in Michigan for more than 150 years. The future of Michigan and of Michigan’s families depends on public education, publically funded, and without the interference of corporate interests. Cyber schools and other schools run for profit by corporations just won’t do the job. Our kids deserve better.

Jane Pilditch, November 28, 2012

Was just curious why special education is not addressed at all in this proposal?

Tonia Ettinger, November 28, 2012

1. Any plan that further thwarts local control is a bad idea. 2. Any plan that decreases face time between teachers and students is a bad idea. Kids, even 17 year old kids, need relationships with adults beyond their family. More online learning hurts us as a society. 3. Any plan that does not hold all schools, including charters, to the same standards is a bad idea. 4. Any plan to open more charter schools without further looking into the success or failure of what we have so far (by some unbiased research group) is a bad idea. From what I can tell, this plan does all three. Please go back and look again at what you’re doing. My children’s future is on the line here.

Ken Jackson, November 28, 2012

This is clearly an attempt to undo Public Education writ large and I urge you to cease and desist. I have two kids in a high functioning District and these relentless attempts by “reformers” and profiteers to undermine schools is a constant distraction for teachers, administrator, parents and kids. You tap in to the angriest and greediest emotions out there — parents who have not had good experiences with the schools and contractors looking for state money to rebuild businesses after the burst of the 2007 housing bubble. Please stay away from kids and those seeking to educate them. Find real work to do in building the state’s economy rather than scapegoating teachers and their unions. Perhaps the Governor has little sense of the power of the negative political affect he is generating — even from those who support him other ways. But this is reckless and dangerous.

Nicole Gillette, November 28, 2012

As the president of our local school board, a parent of two children in the public school system, the daughter of a 1st grade teacher and a substitute teacher I am afraid of what these changes could do to our schools. In my experience many of the problems we face in public education is a result of the mandatory education provision for traditional public schools. Many of the charter schools and public school academies do not have the pressures of trying to educate kids with severe learning disabilities in the same classroom as some of the higher achieving students. In addition to that, there is little to nothing traditional public schools can do in regards to the chronic discipline problems. When a district faces problems with children because there is no parental support local entities are placed in a difficult situation. They are forced to try and educate a child who is focused on being as much as a disruption as possible. Add the extra rigor to the Michigan curriculum, it sets kids up to be frustrated and as a result in a position to be disengaged. I have no false ideas that public education is working as is, but I think forcing these kinds of changes in such a rapid manner would do more to detract from the ability for educate our children.

Stephanie VanHaerents, November 28, 2012

I am very concerned about the proposed changes for education in the State of Mi. I believe students should have choices in regards to the education to students. However, these new bills will destroy the neighborhood schools. Communities are built around their schools. If student funding follows the student, how can schools survive? If a kid takes one class in one district and another in a different district, how can either district survive with split funding? There is no clear proof that online learning is effective for students. Why expand if we don’t know that it works? Yes some students can’t succeed in a traditional environment. So MI has charters, we have schools of choice and we have online learning. ENOUGH. Allow public schools to continue educating their students. How is special education going to be affected by this? If all the funding is split how is funding for special education going to be affected? These changes will affect all schools, not just the failing ones. The State of MI should come up with solutions to help failing schools. That doesn’t mean attack all public schools.

Nicole Schaibly, November 28, 2012

To whom it may concern~ I find this entire bill repulsive. Children are not something for corporations to make money off of, they are human beings who deserve respect and love. Our schools are being held accountable for everything they do and their testing scores have been excellent compared to many charter schools. Children need stability and all your money driven bills are not going to do that by shuffling children from school to school with no bonds being made. They have enough instability in their lives as it is!! Have you checked out the divorce rate recently??? Also i have an autistic son who has done FANTASTIC WITH THE SUPPORT AND EDUCATION FROM OUR FLUSHING PUBLIC SCHOOLS! He has a good chance of living a normal life thanks to those teacher”s dedication to him. Are your for profit schools going to help him? I don’t think so. In fact you wont even have people qualified to do so. Will you be discarding the children with special needs along the way just to make money? How much money do you need?? I see very large civil rights lawsuits looming when children aren’t all treated equally and you are not treating all children equally. In fact i will be happy to file one and will fight tooth and nail every step of the way. My other son is on the middle school and is in x-country, soccer, wrestling and boy scouts. Will you be proving all those activities and sports also? again~I don’t think so!!! People need to learn to get along with other people and sitting them in front of a computer wont do it.What about when they go off to college? I graduated from a public university and lived with complete strangers for 4 years and learned how to get along just fine. Children need to learn these life skills for a future job also!!! This bill is so wrong in so many ways. Children need stability and the ability to learn how to make friends and get along with everyone in life. Turning them into a for profit entity is disgusting and you congressmen should be ashamed of yourselves. Will you be proving busing to all these different schools? We parents cant drive our kids around as we both have to work to survive in this economically depressed state. If i could leave right now i would as i am so repulsed by all the ridiculous laws that have been passed with no thought what so ever. Apparently there are many, many things you have all not thought clearly about or had kids in school recently to understand the problems you are creating. The teachers my kids have care about them and they have done well. People such as this pathetic congress should quit make all sorts of drastic changes to things they know nothing about and then let everyone else figure out the mess they have made. Sincerely, a very disturbed parent Feel free to email me with your comments. In fact i would be happy to speak with someone on the phone.

Stephen Hammontree, November 28, 2012

This is not what Michigan needs now!

Jon Seppanen, November 28, 2012

This is an obvious attempt by republicans to destroy the public school system and make their buddies rich with all these schools that don’t have to meet half of the requirements of public schools. How about giving public schools the money they need to operate instead of funding them at about a 1978 level.

Lindsey Brockway, November 28, 2012

How about my tax dollars go towards fixing our schools, instead of the crazy ideas the current government is coming up with! I have 3 children. My husband and I make a good living. We support public education and our public schools. I want to see those local schools improved upon, not done away with. Without local schools, our small town would become non-existent! I can’t believe I fell for Governor Snyder and voted for a republican. NEVER AGAIN will I fall for the belief that a republican cares about the middle class! I’m ashamed that I fell for it and I will work hard to make sure Snyder is a one-term governor!

Marcia Robovitsky, November 28, 2012

1. After attending a local meeting sponsored by Bloomfield Hills Schools… there are a lot of parents concerned with the “taking of unused buildings”. More needs to be detailed about this issue. 2. Do parents living in a school district… have first priority for the classes in that district? Is there a class size mandated in this bill or may each district determine class size for each class? 3. If a school district chooses not to allow students to apply for classes held in the “physical” buildings during the day, could they still permit “online” classes they offer to be attended by out of district people? 4. Transportation in this “choice” is unclear to many. Personally, I believe that if a parent chooses to go elsewhere, that parent is responsible for the transportation. What is the proposed policy on transportation? 5. The proposed new school types… are creating fear for many. I tried to make it clear that they would be public schools with certified teachers…and those new schools are there as a choice…not mandatory. The district employees in ADMINISTRATION are concerned with the book keeping of tracking students that do make other choices. 6. A lot of people in the audience at this meeting were school employees… that have been dealing with other new mandates that have changed policies in the schools. They seemed overwhelmed at the speed of change and how it will affect their employment. 7. If this legislation will indeed take 5 years to implement…. and outline of WHAT happens in what order…may help. 8. I support the vision of this project. I hope the details will be well thought out before enacting legislation. I absolutely hated listening to Nancy Pelosi say: Just vote for it…we’ll read it later. Thank you. Marcia Robovitsky FYI…former 20 year teacher…no children of my own still in K-12 school.

During the change from draft to rewrite of this bill, I would like the legislature and the team to reconsider the funding formula that currently suggests paying a school less money because a student did NOT make a year’s worth of growth. If Gov. Snyder and all believe in the words ANY PACE…there are children that just will not be able to perform to that standard and the school should not be penalized. Children get physical growth spurts that parents can easily see… and teachers can see growth spurts and the “light bulb” turning on in just as random timing. As educators and parents we should rejoice in progress and a continuing goal of improvement. PLEASE, don’t penalized schools or teachers if every student doesn’t reach the goal of one year growth in a subject. Thank you.

Lori Walquist, November 28, 2012

My son would benefit for this program. He is not a special ed student, but struggles in school. He goes to school every day, rarely miss a day. He is in his junior year and is behind on his credits. He is a good kids but fall behind in class. He is in class that has 30 or more kids, and that can be distracting to him. I feel that he would do better with online classes, less distractions for other students. I truly beleive that this new program would help him and other students with similar problems.

Jonathan Penn, M.D., November 28, 2012

Property tax support and local control result in some flagship schools and some wretched schools. Parents who value education move to like-minded communities, often at considerable financial sacrifice. Once a family has secured the best public school experience they chose to afford, the very last thing they want is their student sitting next to a student from a family with no interest in or tradition of educational achievement. In short. they will not tolerate sending their child to a school which imports social chaos. In addition they will not tolerate their student in a classroom convoy which moves at the speed of the slowest. After the erasure of community public schools utopia is forced upon high motivation parents and students, they will decamp to private schools. After the public schools are bereft of the top achievers, they will slowly settle into a more equal mediocrity. Any different result would require ‘it takes a village’ coercion.

Casey Stratton, November 28, 2012

I am very worried about what is potentially and already happening to the public education system in Michigan. Very. It might be a controversial subject, but all I see is “let’s keep giving upper-middle and wealthy kids more funding and push out the poor people by removing funding for bad performance.” See how you perform when your parents have 3 jobs and you have no electricity, phone or water for weeks or months – or nowhere to live. Seems it should be EXACTLY the other way around, to me. Let’s give MORE funding and resources to under-performing schools. Not everyone has the same reality and you cannot just look at testing to determine if these kids are “worth it.” There are so many factors and so many for whom there is no such thing as “school of choice” because they have no way to get anywhere but the school closest to them, and maybe no one is paying any mind if they even show up. Real talk! I work as a music instructor for an after-school program in Grand Rapids, MI. I work with children who live in poverty. These children do not need to have their schools receive LESS funding. Anything but that. Some of these kids just don’t have the opportunities to learn, to get one on one attention, that they need to make it. Everything gets cut. Good teachers don’t want to teach in these impoverished schools unless they feel a real calling and those people are amazing but too few and far between. In the end, if we cannot find ways to build up the most at-risk among us, what hope do we have? If we want to move toward a state that has fewer people on public aid, shouldn’t we be investing in these children now? It seems to me that cutting funding for schools in poor neighborhoods only guarantees more people who need public assistance, not less. Please reconsider this bill. It only serves to enhance the education of those who are already getting more than others. There must be a way to improve things across the board. Putting test score pressures on schools that are dealing with more factors than others is punitive in a very unrealistic way. Thank you.

Camile Klimecki, November 28, 2012

I would just like clarification of the proposals by Gov Snyder regarding state-funded classes and online reimbursement for classes.  Does this funding and reimbursement apply to private schools or only public school districts and students?

Please send me clarification of the information.  Thank you.

Casey L. Gordon, November 29, 2012

This plan would affect school districts and their homeless students. Currently, federal McKinney-Vento legislation requires the school of origin and school of attendance area to split transportation costs to continue sending homeless students to their school of origin. By erasing attendance lines / “ownership” of students, this leaves us without a designated school of origin or school of attendance area.

This plan would also disproportionately affect urban schools. In Kent County, we have 3,000 homeless students, 75% of which are “doubled-up” with another family. Under this plan, doubled up families will demand transportation to their school of choice (a guaranteed right for homeless families), leaving our urban schools in financial ruin because they have to bus all of these students out of their traditional district. This already happens in our current system, if we now allow any school to be a school of origin, districts will spend thousands of their general fund on transportation. (It costs between $10,000 and $14,000 to transport most homeless student to their school of origin for a year – districts cannot afford it now)

How will Michigan designate school of origin and school of attendance area? Or, what is our plan to respond to the federal McKinney-Vento law if we erase all district boundaries and ownership of students?

Thank you.

Suzanne Dakin, November 29, 2012

Education Finance Project Elements (Please see comments in bold)

  • Eliminate, or prepare transition language for, outdated and superfluous language in the present School Aid Act.  This is a slick and misleading way to say we want the new finance reform to match language in the proposed in the House Bills 6004, 5923 and the Senate Bill 1358.  It would update the language to match.  This language is not approved yet but of course if approved the finance language would have to match.
  • Transfer substantive, permanent education policies that are more appropriate in the Revised School Code.  This is a slick way to say we will remove what we don’t like and forget about them and insert our big government policies into the finance bill that we may not get approved in the House Bills 6004, 5923 and Senate Bill 1358 such as:
    • ADM (Average Daily Membership) – this means that funding is with the student and emotionally coined “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace public school learning model”  (The opposing side would coin it: No structure, No home,  No funding,  No accountability public school learning model)
    • Funding incentives/perks for year round school districts provided they don’t have any breaks longer than 2 weeks (screams big business lobbying and forget about enjoying long breaks at the summer cottage)
    • 5% of Funding tied to student test scores (We all know parents can get their kids to behave on a dime so teachers must be able to get the kids to perform on a given test date!!  Please do not tie my child’s funding to the testing performance of other children.  Take the big business approach and make SMART yearly goals for teachers to achieve and link it to a yearly performance compensation)
    • On-line learning
    • Etc..
  • Replace the school district-centric structure with a student centered structure, including, but not limited to:
    • Greater choice for students and parents.  Fact:  The majority of school districts are already school of choice.  We also have charter schools and academies.  We do have choices!
    • Clarify role of geographic local unit school districts in financing model.  The proposed bills/reform are eliminating the home district model so of course it has to be undated and clarified.
    • A per pupil funding system not tied to a school district.  Nothing like making it more difficult for school districts to budget their fiscal year.  Teachers and support staff are pinked slipped each year until budget allocations are clear.  Now funding will be dynamic and districts could lose part of their funding mid-year consider the impact it would have.
    • Funding that follows the student.  Again, consider the impact it would have on budgeted operating funds.
    • Inter-district choice as part of a public system that maximizes innovative learning tools that meet a student’s needs.  Has anyone thought of the impact to sports??  Would it allow a student to participate at two schools for the same sport or split seasons between schools?
    • Expanded opportunities for early college attendance, diverse online education.  I did not see where this policy would allow for younger students to attend college courses.
    • Option for total on-line learning.  How would you develop the emotional and social well-being of the student which are a big part of being prepared for college and the “global economy” and what is in the finance reform to address this?
    • Education system that offers unfettered flexibility and adaptability for student learning models and styles. We already have this in the classroom which also supports emotional development through social interactions.
    • Performance-based funding rather than “seat time” requirements.  Again, do not tie my child’s education funding to the test performance of another child.
    • A system that is more cost-efficient, competitive, innovative and effective in motivating student achievement. Sound nice but prove it.  This is emotional malarkey to get the uninformed to buy into big government’s oversight of the schools.   The only proven methods have been physical education at the start of the day and monetary incentives paid directly to the students which this reform does not address except for the elite students that can graduate early.
    • A system that embrace innovative learning tools.   School districts already do this by offering: clustering in the classrooms, reading specialists, free after-school tutoring by certified teachers, verbal testing instead of written, computer-based language labs, on-line courses, etc…
    • Changing from a static approach to education delivery to one responsive to individual learning styles. See above.  School districts already do this in large classroom sizes!  So does this policy really promote change or just pushes state government involvement?
    • Allow nonpublic school students and home school students maximum access to public education resources within the constraints of Michigan’s constitution.  As stated this is limited by our Constitution and some school districts already provide the maximum support allowed under our Constitution.
  • Provide transition provisions to allow school districts and all public schools time to adjust to the new system.
  • Create greater transparency in public education funding for the benefit of teachers, administrators, students, parents and taxpayers.  Again here is an emotional snowball – “ transparency”.  Government is not transparent nor will it ever truly be.  Look at the misleading way it is marketing its policy proposals!
  • Match the education funding act with the substantive changes in the Revised School Code proposed to implement the Governor’s education reform strategies. Again proposed!The timing of the Finance Reform Act and public comment period happens to coincide with House Bill 6004 (School Reform Act) discussions in Lansing.  This is a slick way to turn the public eye away from the real important bills House Bills 6004, 5923 and Senate Bill 1358 that are currently being considered in Lansing.  Shame on Michigan government!

Amanda Rhines, November 29, 2012

I see nothing that specifically addresses how students with special needs will be treated in this new system.  I am concerned that there may not be enough thought being put into how this will affect these students.  Will they still be allowed in regular ed classrooms?  I get the feeling that it will become practice to not allow students with special needs to be mainstreamed under this new financial system.  Please consider and address these concerns.

Thank you.

Steve Korpusik, November 29, 2012

There are several flaws with this system but the biggest has to do with what will surely lead to de-funding all schools. Dishing out money according to one year growth is insane. Doing it proportionally is a sign of mental illness. What assessment is designed to do this? Assessments as they stand currently are ridiculously flawed. After decades of trying to “perfect” assessment measures, every staistician points out that they don’t really provide accurate measures of very much at all. To only allow schools to attain funding for the students who “succeeded” according to a standardized, one-size-fits-all test is preposterous and damaging. This, among other measures, will lead to such a destabilization of funding from school to school that hiring will be inconsistent. The main pojnt is that these tests don’t exist and the likelihood that any test can measure such a thing is lunacy. This also restricts curriculum and often enforces a drill-and-kill style of teaching that is counterproductive to higher order thinking. This measure alone would kill schools. You may struggle to have enough schols to educate all children. It will destroy urban schools, even those precious charters with skimming policies. This is one of many flaws. But it is a certainly unattainable standard. No test can measure this. To believe that such an assessment can measure this ideally by 2014-2015 is disingenuous and reflects the real goal of this draft. Destroy public education. Under such conditions, many current educators will surely abandon teaching in Michigan and future potential educators will certainly be dissuaded from a teaching career. Good luck attracting the best and brightest. Steven Korpusik

Anne Simon, November 29, 2012

While the intentions of the education funding proposal are noble, it ignores the fundamental underlying problems which engender continued multi-generational under-performance. It is well documented that children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds are irrevocably behind their peers by as early as ten months of age with clear evidence of statistically dismal performance by the time they enter third grade. Resources and intellectual efforts should be targeted toward at-home support and intervention, preschool development and attendance support, nutrition, and perhaps even more aggressive strategies involving co-education of students and parents. No amount of high school level focus will solve the early childhood problem, just as lowering the last couple of hurdles in a race won’t create winners of the runners who stumble coming out of the starting blocks.

Debbie Isaacs, November 29, 2012

UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! HORRIBLE!!! Public Education is not a BUSINESS!!! Stop trying to make money off of it!

Amanda Esquivel, November 29, 2012

Here are a few things that I think are innovative/creative ideas: – providing $2,500 to students graduating early – the incentive to increase the school year (this is particularly important for poor children as they do not have the same opportunities and experiences in the summer compared with more affluent children) These are a few of the things I believe need to be reconsidered: – Any pace? How can you claim that you allow children to learn at any pace when you attach funding to their pace. Why would schools get less money if some children only gain 9 months instead of say 12 months in a year. Children learn at all different paces. Every parent and educator knows this. This provision is only going to cause schools to spend even MORE time on the MEAP or other standardized tests than then already do! This is just a terrible idea. If you want to know how a school is doing, why not look at the overall growth? On average are children gaining 1 year? (some 15 months, some 12 months, some 10 months?) – Cyber schools – this is another terrible idea. Children already spend too much time online, in front of a television or texting. This lack of communication and interaction is I believe part of the cause of this increase in bullying. We are not educating robots, we are educating people! They need to interact with their peers and adults. – My other issue with this is the actual implementation. If the money follows each child, who exactly keeps track of that? This sounds like you would need to hire hundreds of people just to manage this. Has this been addressed at all? Is this even practical? Did any educators contribute to this document? I have found that they are usually the ones with innovative, creative ideas. Why not involve the actual people that interact with our children? Thank you.

Chip Heyboer, November 29, 2012

While I agree modernizing our education is needed, some of the proposed alternatives for educating students in Michigan seem ill conceived and lacking planning. For example, the idea of online education possibilities that sound like they may be something students can accomplish from home or outside a school building. Is the state or contracted agency responsible for providing the required technology needed to complete the online courses, or does the student need to supply the technology? If so, doesn’t that requirement break State law, the requirements that schools provide all required resources for learning? How does the agency administering the online courses ensure that students are not cheating on these courses? Don’t online courses still need supervision in real time to ensure academic integrity? Will parents be responsible for this? Is this a good idea? While I understand that maybe these questions may need to be addressed by the agency providing this, I think there needs to be a framework where concerns like these need to be addressed. I know that no plan is full proof, and there is a learning curve, but I see academic disaster and a real waste of taxpayer funds with these vague, untested education reform proposals. Thanks for your time.

Nancy McAleer, November 29, 2012

If Michigan wants to attract businesses and keep families in the state, it is not going to happen with the new MPEFP. Gov. Snyder and his minions have already shown how little they value our children and education in general. Cutting funding to schools while increasing tax breaks to businesses and the wealthy is a primary indicator of the disregard those entities have for the areas to which they give politically motivated lip service. The MPEFP indicates how uninformed the composers are of the day-to-day classroom needs of students and teachers, of the home situations that often affect the success, or lack of it, of students, and the chaos such a plan could create. States that have tried to institute similar plans have much smaller populations and much less successful educational systems. To make our system comparable to systems in other countries, let’s do what they do – make teaching the most esteemed and highly paid profession; group students by ability (in Germany it starts in 4th grade when students are recognized as college material, or not, Japan is similar); when talking about accountability, include students and parents in the equation. An educator can teach, but the student must learn, and that takes work and commitment on the part of the learner. And, not all individuals are capable of learning all things. We do an injustice to all students to imply that they are all equally gifted in all areas of study. Michigan schools were once the envy of other states. Cultural and economic changes have had detrimental effects on all educational institutions, and those facts cannot be overlooked. Changes need to be made but this plan doesn’t even begin to address the problem areas.

Denise Smith, November 30, 2012

I am extremely concerned about this. Even though the plan will take 4 – 5 years to phase in, the decisions are being made in a very short amount of time without adequate time to allow for community input. This is not just a finance project this is a complete restructuring of the public education system. People need to have time to dissect this project and understand the impact – positive and negative that it may have on Michigan schools and communities.

Thomas Phipps, November 30, 2012

This whole idea of this proposal is WRONG WRONG WRONG. Cant believe it will ever pass and I will fight against it.

Dave Gaitley, November 30, 2012

I had an opportunity review some of this act, and to read about it, and wanted to say that I am totally against it.

Barbara Adams, November 30, 2012

As a Michigan resident and taxpayer whose two daughters received their education through the Michigan public schools system, I would like to see reform in the way my tax dollars are spent on education. If Michigan plans to continue spending tax dollars on education, then I want it to go for that, education. Not sports, not extra curricular activities. If a student wants to participate in them, their parents can pay for them. There are a lot of organizations that provide this type of activity out side the academic area. Also, it should be made mandatory for parents to be involved in their childs education. I was involved in my both of daughters education through college. They are now responsible tax paying citizens. I value an education, but cost must get under control. I see education as the next bubble to burst, just like housing. I don’t want the State to give my tax dollars to just anyone who wants to establish a “school” for the children of Michigan. There needs to be oversight of my tax dollars or abolish the public education altogether and let parents fund their own children’s education.

Marye Mathieu, November 30, 2012

I certainly hope you have taken into account places like boarder schools that do not have the ability to consolidate or share services because of state lines. The distance in the upper peninsula and northern lower part of the state have dramatically different needs than the bottom half of the state. The solutions that you come up with will affect the ability to educate students with limited resources and limited tax base as well as the large districts. There needs to be solutions where there is bussing for many miles and the cost. Most schools in these areas cannot share educational opportunities because of distance. The consolidation of services is also affected as well as contracting out for things like bussing and food services when there are limited companies that will bid on anything. One shoe does not fit all feet! We, in these areas, are almost always forgotten because we have less numbers but then we are required to play by the rules that affect all students and communities and pay for things that do not improve our education. Local needs are not looked into. Even with distance learning, the buildings, tech needs, and staff need to be addressed. The need for training in what the local economy needs in the job market should also be addressed. If we have need for many employees that do not have a 4 year degree in the local area then what good does it do to require that? There are many jobs that can pay well with good benefits and also keep businesses in the area. Some require a two year degree or a special certification. We need to be creative in allowing and paying for the options. Again, with a state line in play, it is hard to provide what we could if the line was not there.

Clint Diffin, November 30, 2012

A state with low income families will be “crushed” if you eliminate or take funding away from public schools. Maybe it would make more sense to reform how the funding is distributed to schools and save a public school who takes ALL students not ones they pick and choose. As a parent of two children working 2 jobs to support them, I strongly depend on my public school to teach my children. If you think people in Michigan can afford to shell out more money for a child’s education, well you can turn the lights out when Michigan becomes a ghost town! Maybe we should find a way to keep Michigan residents here. I am sick of a government that is NOT run by the people and is being taken over by special interest groups. So if you want to make a change for the people, ASK THE PEOPLE! I have ask for governor Snyder to call me on several occasion, yet he is TOO BUSY doing things for special interest groups and not helping the children of Michigan schools. Education has suffered enough.

Kristin Henninger, November 30, 2012

If adopted, The proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Act, will be a determent to Michigan schools. Any time, any place, any way, and any pace, isn’t the answer for improving the education system. If the objective for overhauling the education funding law is to create “career-ready citizens, then we need to realize that the answer isn’t to allow student’s to shop around for their education, taking the funding with them. The students’ attending schools that are academically performing, won’t need to shop around, and the students attending low performing schools, more than likely coming from disadvantaged lifestyles, won’t be in the position to shop around for an education. ALL students need to attend their school and have the opportunity of a solid education. Students who come from disadvantaged situations, and move frequently, from district to district, or even staying with in the district, just changing schools, often have “holes” in their education. Encouraging this doesn’t help build career or college ready students. Michigan schools, already under funded, struggle to remain competitive, while ensuring that students are properly educated to compete in the global economy.

Mark Nicholas, November 30, 2012

This law is a NIGHTMARE. I am deeply opposed to these changes. It is clear that it would decimate public education in Michigan. What would become of the children like mine who have special needs with such pseudo-privatization (the big funding shift) where schools could ultimately cherry-pick students? The answer is clear: They would be plowed over. This legislation leaves no room for such children. The underprivileged, the weak, the slow, even the average. Crushed by these laws. SHAME ON THE SUPPORTERS OF THIS. I am raising my voice. I will tell everyone who listens. I have expanded my social media following to a Facebook group to expose its supporters. Legislators will pay for support of this in lost votes. This law is wrong wrong WRONG for the children of Michigan.

Rod Rock, November 30, 2012

Thank you for the opportunity to offer feedback. 1. I do not believe that this proposal addresses the fundamental causes of failure in school: poverty and childhood stress (http://oaklandschoolsmi.com/millionvoices/). Until we address the root causes of failure in school, we will solve the problem. Any reform proposal should address these issues. 2. The proposal does not address preschool. Preschool has a large effect on school achievement. Any revised system should include universal preschool, otherwise we are not addressing the causes of low performance in school. 3. The proposal does not address the student’s educational experience. Learning happens through human interactions. Intelligence goes well beyond performance on tests. We need to expand the definition of intelligence and the quality of human interactions in schools. Not addressing these issues fails to fundamentally alter how kids experience schooling, and this is a major shortfall. Seek guidance from psychologists and neuroscientists. They have much to teach education and the proposal does not mention either of them. 4. There can be no such thing as a low quality school in Michigan. Local communities and schools exist in symbiosis. The elements of this proposal diminish the quality of communities by lowering the quality of schools. Instead, insure that there is an excellent school system in every local community in Michigan and that all kids have access within those communities to the resources discussed (and not discussed) in this proposal: online learning (to embellish in-person learning), early access to college, universal preschool, prenatal care and nutrition, technical and vocational training, individualized learning, performance assessments, expanded definitions of intelligence. Please consult the experts on learning and do not allow political agendas and special interests to drive reform. Please do all you can to maintain the vitality of local communities. Please respect teachers and educational leaders. Please understand that custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, secretaries, administrators, technology support people, central office leaders, local school boards, parents, and children constitute communities and that communities foster learning and citizenship.

Reginald Beckius, December 1, 2012

This is a terrible idea. Local communities are the best at providing the education required for their children. This should not be dictated by the state. The focus should be on improving the education in the school districts that are not performing. This proposed approach will weaken the top performing schools and foster mediocrity.

Janet Ralph, December 1, 2012

I am greatly disturbed by a proposal that is designed not to strengthen public education as we know it, but would undo the work of 200 years to create a system that includes all children. Just in the last half century we have desegregated schools and provided education and services for special needs students. This has necessarily increased the cost of our system as well as changed the way we view success. Not all of these children will achieve at the highest levels. Our goal needs to be to take them to the highest level they are capable of achieving. Discussing the need for educational and political leaders to work to this end, the authors of A Nation at Risk said, “This unity , however, can be achieved only if we avoid the unproductive tendency of some to search for scapegoats among the victims, such as the beleaguered teachers.” (page 12) I see this proposal as an attempt to commercialize education for the elite rather than making it a source of national pride. Again I turn to A Nation at Risk, “In a world of ever-accelerating competition and change in the conditions of the workplace, of ever-greater danger, and of ever-larger opportunities for those prepared to meet them, educational reform should focus on the goal of creating a learning society. At the heart of such a society is the commitment to a set of values and to a system of education that affords all members the opportunity to stretch their minds to full capacity, from early childhood through adulthood, learning more as the world changes. Such a society has as a basic foundation the idea that education is important not only because of what it contributes to to one’s career path but also because of the value it adds to the general quality of one’s life.” (page 14 And finally, from the same document, “We also call upon citizens to provide the financial support necessary to accomplish these purposes. Excellence costs. But in the long run, mediocrity costs far more.” (page 33) I do not see this proposal as addressing any of this, but rather seeking ways to create opportunities for business to turn a profit.

Lynette Brander, December 1, 2012

I am a a secondary ESL teacher. I appreciate that the bill gives extra time for below-grade level students, but it is unfair to offer money to those who can complete high school at an accelerated pace. This gives an unfair advantage to those who already have a strong academic background to further their education. Students who need monetary aid to go on to post-secondary education do not have the same access simply because they come from poverty or as a refugee with interrupted schooling. It seems that finishing high school early would be incentive enough for those wanting to complete it early. Don’t add money to the equation and therefore further divide the workforce. You would be better served in putting the saved money into early childhood education or support services.

Christine Kuhl, December 1, 2012

The end of local control of schools ends a community’s decision to set and maintain its values and priorities. As a resident of Grosse Pointe, my community has a long history of supporting public education at our own expense. We have built prominent, nationally recognized schools.  By allowing our district to be open to any and to all, we are not allowed to maintain our community standards. Our schools are the cornerstone of our small, close-knit community. These bills will take that away from us and you will see an entire community dissolve as a result. People will not stay in Grosse Pointe if we lose the public education system we and our children so value. These bills are a hostile takeover of our way of life.

Mark O’Keefe, December 1, 2012

The state legislature is currently considering a bill that would help ensure higher funding for wealthy school districts and lower funding for those that serve at-risk students.

Currently, funding is based on student population.  The new bill would still be primarily based on the number of students, but 15% of funding would be based on student test scores.

Ignoring the fact that we do not have a reliable test score that accurately and reliably measures student growth, how do we account for difficulties faced by at-risk students?

Urban areas have disproportionate numbers of students with truancy problems, parents lacking college degrees, fewer books in the home, and a host of other factors that

In 1954, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” school districts were illegal.

If enacted, this flawed funding scheme would circumvent the intent of that ruling, and further insure that students in high-poverty districts have teachers who have lower pay, lower benefits, and smaller pensions.

If the legislature actually cared about helping at-risk students, they would find a way to bring more resources to those who need it most.

Rena Kirshenbaum, December 1, 2012

If the new proposal supports “anytime, anywhere, any pace”, why are the schools that support the student whose pace is slower than the average penalized?  And, conversely, why would that school not receive additional funds for those who excel?

Kris Kirby, December 2, 2012

I am a K-12 public school administrator with over 35 years of experience. We need to embrace the Oxford Foundation report and quickly move to pass it into law so that all children in Michigan have the opportunity to be successful members of our communities and contribute to the public good.

Cadey Sontag, December 2, 2012

Re: pp.88-89, why are the accountability requirements regarding costs for online learning crossed out? The lack of accountability, together with the dehumanization of education is deplorable. Requiring food programs to favor Michigan products is a positive step. Basing teacher evaluations on test scores and video evaluations sows enmity among students, teachers and administrators and destroys trust. More attention is needed for environmental concerns, resource and energy conservation, and instilling knowledge and appreciation of the natural flora and fauna of Michigan for our students. Too much focus on the “virtual” disconnects us from the “real.” R E C O N S I D E R ! !

Joan Stelzer, December 2, 2012

Please slow down on this process. While it includes many positive ideas, it clearly will hurt the districts in this state that DO work well, in the process. My children are in the “working” part of the system. We paid a premium for the property so our children could go to these schools. And we pay a premium in taxes. If I am forced to withdraw my children from it and send them to private schools while the Michigan government tries to implement these radical changes, my husband and I will deplete a significant portion of our retirement savings. Your plan will significantly affect our children and our retirement years. Please consider what everyday taxpayers in this state need and want. This plan is half-baked. Keep it in the oven and work out all the far-reaching issues.

Ron Marinucci, December 2, 2012

I fully believe that all of those trying to “fix” our educational system mean well. And I also believe it needs to be fixed. Yet, what is passing now for “reform” will get us nowhere. There are two major problems that must be addressed before any meaningful improvements can be implemented. First, it must be recognized that those who have run the public schools over the past three or four decades shouldn’t have been making decisions. Again, they may have meant well, but their programs and policies, often jumping from latest fad to latest bandwagon, have worsened schools. The biggest detriment of these educational leaders is that they don’t know what quality education is, what it entails. They haven’t been through the rigors of a quality education. Oh, they may have all of the degrees, with all the letters after they names, but far too many don’t have quality educations with the rigor that is required. Second, far too many politicians are sticking their noses in this. I understand why. They, too, although they might not come out and say it, don’t trust the educational leadership, as I don’t. Yet, they make a similar and ultimately dooming mistake. Since they have been to school, since they have been students, they think they know how education should be operated. They don’t and just listening to them confirms that. For instance, the governor thinks that because he learned from online classes, those are for everyone. No, No, No! In most instane, for most students, that’s exactly what they don’t need. I know this part will make be sound like Neanderthal, some 21st Century Luddite, but there is far too much emphasis on technology. Oh, there’s a place for it in education, maybe even an important place. But technology has been give a god-like status. Refomers worship at the altar of technology, to the detriment of real changes and improvement. I’ve been involved with education–from elementary school up to and including the college level–for 42+ years. I’ve seen the fads come an go. I’ve seen the fools who have run education. I’ve seen the silly new programs and projects. This year’s “research” will be contradicted by new studies a couple of years. There are some steps, simple enough to enunciate, more difficult to implement due to a myriad of condition, that can be undertaken to pull education out of its abysmal mediocrity (if no worse). But, I will assume, my ideas (and I have not specified many, if any, here) will be ignored. Who wants to hear they’re all wrong!?!?!? And those leading education in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were wrong, just as those trying to make changes now are wrong.

William Bishop, December 2, 2012

Let’s keep big money out of education and leave it in the finical area.

Cynthia C. Hollenbeck, December 3, 2012

This proposal is nothing but a stealthy attempt to privatize education in Michigan. If this proposal is allowed to go forward, more students will fall through the cracks, there will be greater disparity in the quality of education, and communities, businesses, and families will suffer. In many rural areas, the schools are the backbone of the community. Business will run out of qualified workers, and Michigan will become the laughingstock of our nation’s education system. The new Mississippi. To be the vibrant country we have been in the past, we MUST continue to develop the talents of ALL students, not just those whose parents have the money to buy an excellent education. All students deserve an excellent education. Even the super-rich business owners who are behind this effort should realize that it would not be very nice for them to have a society even more divided into “haves” and “have nots”. They have to interact with people outside their social sphere, and count on them to be educated, responsible, contributing community members. The foundation for this society is strong public schools. The democracy of our country depends on the blending of socio-economic classes, and about the only place this still occurs is in the public schools. I heard a segment on TV where Tom Brokaw was talking about a mandatory public service to bring the classes together–I was shouting at the TV “Support public schools! Make them great so the rich kids and parochial students and home schoolers want to go to the public schools!!” Public schools are a VITAL part of the foundation of our wonderful country.

Debra Kuhn, December 3, 2012

On two separate occasions the voters of Michigan have rejected the concept of Vouchers for Public Education. I request that our legislators oppose MI House Bills 6004 and 5923 and MI Senate bills 620 and 1358. These bills are an end run around the voters of Michigan by removing these for-profit schools from the oversight and review of our properly elected Boards of Education and will not do anything to improve the education of our children. In fact the enactment of these bills will be extremely detrimental to our children’s educations and serve only to siphon off already limited school funding. Let’s unite in efforts to make our public schools stronger by correcting the unfair disparities that exist in the current school aid act and act swiftly to rewrite school aid in Michigan.

Scott Doyon, December 3, 2012

This will cause even more bureaucracy and government waste. If you’re after teacher salaries or upset with the amount of hours they work (or don’t work) than face it like a man and go after the MEA. If you’re after the amount made by local administrators then consolidate districts where it makes sense. This proposal is ludicrous and ridicules. What a waste of tax payer money and the government’s time.

Laura Phy-Daly, December 3, 2012

We need good paying jobs-not more unemployment!!!! This plan will create more job loss. Stop the attacks on public education and the employees. Support education not destroy it–FUND it. If this administration put half as much effort into job creation we would be in much better shape with decent high paying jobs. How many people who are writing these bills have a degree in education or were teachers in a public school?

Jodi Omness, December 4, 2012

I think that opening more schools is the wrong policy to pursue. We have many public schools that are working just fine and I believe the voters of MI would like to keep them that way. For the schools that are not performing, we need to find out what kind of help they need, I have some suggestions below. 1. Provide support to focus on early reading skills. I volunteer at an elementary school in Battle Creek to help mentor early reading skills. for kindergartners From what I hear on this United Way program, kids that are not reading at level by 3rd grade are at high risk for drop out later. (Probably because they can’t read the material for any of their classes.) I understand this program is providing real improvement so far. 2. Support parents in getting kids are going to school and being involved. I noticed the kids in the economically challenged district I volunteer at are often absent. (Kindergartners and 1st graders) I don’t know what the causes are behind this but it obviously hinders their learning. 3. Rather than having for-profit business set up on-line classes/schools, have our existing public schools involved in developing and providing this type of alternate learning. I would guess some schools are already doing this. 4. Build community involvement in the schools. Business can be partners rather than competitors by working with schools rather than opening new ones. 5. Don’t open unlimited amounts of charter schools. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere sounds expensive and inefficient. Excess competition will drive a race to the bottom. It also sounds like the new charter schools will have little of the accountability that is placed on public schools. Will the new private schools be forced to mainstream all emotionally impaired students in their classrooms? Doesn’t sound like there’s much of a level playing field between the charters and the public. They should be held to the same standards and teach the same students. If we can’t make one education system work, how are we going to make 7 or 8 different kinds work? We have a great base to build on at public schools and can innovate within the existing structure rather than take a scorched earth approach. Most of the suburban schools do just fine and we need to find ways to improve performance in others by involving ALL stakeholders in the development-community, administrators, teachers, parents and students.

Elizabeth Johnson, December 4, 2012

House Bills 6004 and 5923 and Senate Bills 620 and 1352 are absolutely antithetical to everything Michigan voters are trying to tell their legislators. We do NOT want charter schools, vouchers, or online schools. We DO want locally controlled school districts run by locally elected Boards of Education who understand the needs of the students within their communities. What do these legislators not understand about the public’s rejection of PA 4, the Emergency Manager Law? And why are they trying to implement this same concept in our school system? For shame.

Whitney Roberts, December 4, 2012

How come this bill is so similar to the one drafted by ALEC? Did you copy it?

Marisol Stork, December 5, 2012

Good Morning! I am writing to express a few concerns with the current education finance proposal for Michigan Public Education. We have 2 children in public school (5th & 2nd grade). We are also fortunate to live in a successful, award winning school district (Grand Haven Area Public Schools). I am a regular volunteer at both the elementary and middle schools my children attend. We have watched year after year the public education budget to our school, and around the State, be chipped away. Our district, which services an area approximately 100 square miles, is currently being funded at the same level the district was funded in the 2005-2006 academic year. Our district has acted responsibly over the last several years in identifying cost saving measures that would not directly impact the classroom. The district, following this academic year, will have spent it “rainy-day” funds to support itself in spite of the budget cuts. We are all anxious as to what changes will need to occur for next school year, and how those changes might impact students. We feel the biggest concern that faces the district is the lack of consistent funding allowing schools to budget for the year. The Education Finance proposal will not help change the issue of consistent funding. If fact, it would seem it will only make it worse. Businesses run more effectively (and yes, public education is a business) when they know how much money is coming in, so they know how much money to spend. If the money is “following” kids all over the State, how are districts supposed to accurately budget for the school year? Especially when the amount per pupil has continually decreased since 2008-2009. Another worry is the apparent “push” to move this plan through without considering all the variables. The fact that such a limited time has been allowed for public opinion (11/19 to 12/14) is equally disturbing, especially when families are preoccupied with the holidays during the allotted time period. Lastly, we question if this is really the best plan for everyone in the State (well-to-do students to the poor, minority and special needs students). Per student funding is at an all time low. Who will fall through the cracks when that nominal amount is then divided up? The State should be looking at public education as in investment; an investment in our children and in the future of our State. Private schools are valuable, but they are not accessible to everyone. We have made the choice to send our children to public school, and believe that they are receiving a good, sound education. But we are concerned about the long-term future of public education in Michigan. My husband and I are also successful products of public school, having received a quality education that lead us to college and then onto post-graduate training. Of course, that was during a time when the State funded and supported public education. Now it is hard to tell in what way the State truly values public education. That is to say, “actions speak louder that words”.

Kathy Daniels, December 5, 2012

This proposal will be the beginning of the end of public education. There is no research/data basis for the proposals being made and it smacks of big business trying to interfere with public education. Our children’s education should not be sold to the highest bidder. The big losers will be any special needs child. A parent in Detroit stated he contacted 11 charter schools and no one would accept his child diagnosed with autism. I have a grandson with autism that is in a wonderful public school preschool and I see his ability to receive as good an education as his peers is in jeopardy.

Michele Corey, December 5, 2012

Dear Mr. McLellan and team, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the first draft of the Michigan Education Finance Act of 2013. Michigan’s Children is a statewide, independent voice for children and their families. We work with lawmakers, business leaders, and communities to make Michigan a place where all children have the opportunity to thrive. The following is a brief summary of our comments to the draft bill, all which are taken from an educational equity lens.

• Any time: While the proposal offers opportunities for schools to shift to a year-round school calendar and extended learning opportunities available 24/7 – both which promote educational equity – unless all schools move to year-round schooling, it is unknown whether students who would benefit from this would opt-in to schools that offer this schedule.

• Any place: The rewritten funding formula “follows the student” which may leave schools serving a high proportion of challenged students in serious financial risk. Families who can “opt-out” of schools serving the most challenged communities may do so, resulting in less funding and resource for those schools. This is counter-intuitive to “any place” since it promotes higher quality options that many students may be unable to access. “Any place” should instead increase the level of quality for all schools and learning programs so that regardless of geography, students can access an education at “any place” that will ensure that they are college and career ready.

• Any way: The proposal recognizes the fact that a traditional classroom setting doesn’t work for all students, which is applauded. However, education reform should bolster supports to education options that have evidence or promise toward closing gaps rather than creating an open market for education programs without minimum quality standards or evidence-base. • Any pace: The current draft provides incentives for students to complete high school in less than four years. Rather than providing a financial incentive to accelerated students, those resources should be utilized to bolster strategies that get ALL students to a high school diploma through re-engagement and college or workforce connection. A more in-depth analysis of the impact of the draft bill on educational equity is available on our website at http://www.michiganschildren.org. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. Best, Michele Corey Interim President & CEO Michigan’s Children.

Holly Muenchow, December 5, 2012

Legislators want us to believe that they are trying to improve education by increasing the offerings available to parents and students to choose from. However, it is clear there is another agenda here at work – turning pupils (and parents) into ‘consumers of education services’ is probably the nearest anyone will get to the truth from any legislator or the governor himself. At best, it is an attempt by investors (legislators) in for-profit schooling at the ground level. The best part about it is they are making sure they can profit off of taxpayer money! And those investors happen to be able to create their marketplace by passing a bill that would enhance their investments’ money-making opportunities. That’s right, I’m saying that there is a direct conflict of interest here that most people are missing, – do YOU know how many legislators “happen to hold investments” in for – profit school organizations? It may be worth you looking into. This group of business men, lawyers, politicians making a substantial systemic change to delivery of education in our state will affect every family in MI. Yet, what do any of them know about the field of education? Do they even know what questions to ask regarding what the effects will be on the children in this state? Have they involved any CURRENTLY PRACTICING PROFESSIONALS in the process? Do they understand what the unintended consequenses of their actions would be? Over the past 15 years, the state has required more and more documentation and fulfillment of requirements in education, from teachers proving they are highly qualified and remain so throughout their careers, to ‘adequate yearly progress’ reports from each and every public school, to mandated curriculum, to high stakes testing of every pupil, etc. All required DATA to prove to the state that the public schools are, in fact, being successful. Yet the legislature wants to railroad through a bill for which there IS NO SUPPORTING DATA regarding the efficacy or success of their proposed plan. I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Currently, the only EAA in operation in our state is a dismal disappointment, with (conveniently) no available data to show from it. There are many flaws and deficiencies in this bill. In the end, it’s all about a money grab by a legislature that is concerned primarily with one thing – business and profit. They see children as a product, nothing more. They don’t want too much scrutiny of the bill because there may be too many questions about the logistics and actual agenda that they cannot or would rather not answer. Otherwise, what’s the rush? For this monumental of a change, the biggest revision to public schools since the change in funding in the ’70’s, why would they not tread carefully and judiciously? It seems reminiscent of Pelosi’s famous quote, to pass the (Obamacare) bill first, then read it. In other words, get what you want now, because we can, and we want what we want, not what our constituents want. Your constituents have already voted a voucher system down twice. They also voted down the emergency financial manager act. So, it seems, Rick Snyder is a woman scorned. He and his yes-men are simply doing an ‘end-around’ to get what he wants any way – voters be damned.

Tony Charney, December 5, 2012

Why is it so hard for all these experts to figure out what is wrong with public education. It is so simple. It’s PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT!!!!! The majority of successful students and districts are ones with good parental involvement. You can make all the changes you want but until you get parents working with their children we will still have the same old results. Solving this problem is the best bet for our future. You might also want to think about working with teachers instead of attacking them all the time. I tell my daughter who is an A student as a chemistry major to forget teaching and go into another field as education is going to be worthless profession by the time this state gets done with it. ( But I guess as long as we bust those democratic leaning teacher unions who cares about those damn kids)

Paul Knott, December 6, 2012

Bluntly. Leave our public funding to the public school system. It has a 200 year history of success. Let the well to do continue to fund their own charters and such with their money. This Oxford commission is a sham and disservice to the citizens and children of Michigan. Revoke Prop A. Let the cities have their money back to run their districts without being held hostage to Lansing and Washington D.C. Quit taking school funding to balance the state coffers. Where is all the lottery proceeds that were to support the schools??? What a small percentage that actually does go towards school funding. Another ploy to gather more golden umbrellas for the Lansing rich. Do what’s right for our future. Not yours. Feel free to contact me anytime.

Patrick Girvan, December 6, 2012

I grew up in Grosse Pointe and had the wonderful advantage of attending school here. That is why my wife and I worked hard to move back here before our children reached school age. Do not ruin our wonderful school district because you can not figure out how to fix other districts. A broad one size fits all approach will not work. I have always voted Republican but will never do so again if you destroy my property value and the school system I love.

Ronald Herron, December 6, 2012

Concerned Citizen, I’m writing this because I believe that this is an critically import for and extremely troubling that our State Capitol continues to threaten our district and to change public education as we know it, and not for the good! I am against any plan that creates a single, statewide school district that is accountable to a board, not elected by the people, but instead appointed only by the Governor. Not only would this district be able to operate without any oversight from the Michigan Department of Education but our tax dollars would be sent to this new super-district without any approval from your locally elected representatives. this type of process would continue to erode school district student count and funding along with school of choice and online charter initiatives. It would kill small rural district first of which I am a part. Under this plan this new super school district will be able to open schools anywhere it wants in the state, not just where there are failing schools. The bills even say that our home district must sell some of the buildings our community owns to this new district if it wants to operate a school there. But the absolute worst part of the plan is that some of these schools will be managed by for-profit operators and even corporations, and only some of our state’s students will be allowed to attend some of these schools. This creates haves and have not situation of selection which our country was not founded on and will further create achievement gaps that the state has said that we must eliminate in our current system. Please take action today to stop these dangerous and reckless ideas. Please stop House Bills 6004 and 5923 and Senate Bill 1358. they will do more harm than good to all our students and communities.

Barbara Switalski, December 6, 2012

I want information.

Chris Glass, December 7, 2012

I would like to receive updates on the Foundations work.

James DeMaggio, December 10, 2012

This letter is in opposition to Michigan House Bills 6004, 5923 and Senate Bills 1358, 620. These or any legislation designed to bypass education control outside the authority of the Michigan State Board of Education is unacceptable. Additionally, the attempt to seize taxpayer funded assets and redistribute them to private education entities is in violation of the public trust and illegal. If this legislation is designed to improve the educational quality in Michigan, why have no set of measurable metrics been included? The obvious answer is that it isn’t designed to improve but to redistribute education dollars to the private sector.

Jonathan M. Whan, December 10, 2012

Concerns that I have regarding the draft Michigan Public Education Finance Act area as follows: Rural communities where I live do not have sufficient access for families/students to take advantage of the distance/virtual learning opportunities. If this is suppose to be a fair/equal education opportunity how does this problem fit? Families with limited resources may not be able to transport their children to neighboring schools to take advantage of opportunities in other districts. If a school’s funding is based on student assessment, up to 5%, how are they suppose to build a budget to meet all of the students needs? Even with the dramatic changes that have happened in the past 2 years districts still have to work within their labor contracts and the legal process that is a part of MERC. How will a students growth be measured, when would a district know about this formula, will it change every year like the one used to calculate the top to bottom list? This will dramatically affect a districts budget planning process as 5% variance could result in many districts’ having to file a deficient budget for next year. As it reads now the plan would go into affect during October 2013. Being that districts are already trying to assess budget needs for next year how would you suggest they move forward, 100% or 95% of the foundation allowance. How does this help students if the choice is not an option and their local school district has to dramatically reduce expenses but are unable to due to labor agreements or lack of concessionary labor agreements? How does the Oxford Group propose schools deal with families that do not take education seriously and thus affect academic growth of students/district resulting in possible negative impact on funding? How is it fair that the charter schools or “New Form” schools have the ability to deny or decline students but local schools can’t?

Lori Ches, December 11, 2012

I am a parent of a public school child.  I would like to offer the following feedback on the Michigan Public Education Finance Act.

I generally support the act, but I found one scenario that I see as being essential to providing adequate education to all of our students, that I also feel is not handled well by this Act.  This scenario is that in which a student is receiving essentially more than a full time education through public schools.  For example, a gifted student attending classes full time at a public high school, while also taking supplemental courses on-line through the Virtual high high school.  Another example is a remedial student receiving additional instruction from a specialized school on weekends or after a full school day to help keep him or her performing at grade level. I feel these are both situations where that are very likely to happen, and are perfect examples of what some of the Education Reform bills in Michigan are trying to empower.
In these cases, if a portion of the student’s allocation is transferred to the school providing the supplemental education, funding for the school providing the full time education is wrongfully diminished.  That school is providing a full education, and deserves to be fully funded for that student.
I don’t know what the solution to this dilemma might be..  My instinct is that funding for supplemental courses for these students is provided beyond what is given to the full-time educator.  I know this will be challenging because of the limited availability of funds.  However, I feel very strongly that any school providing a full education to a student needs to receive full funding for that student, period.

Lauren Clune, December 12, 2012

I am a voter and a parent with a child in the Grosse Pointe Public school system. I voted for Governor Snyder but I do not support his stance of turning public education into a for profit venture. I am satisfied that I am receiving a valuable return on my education dollar in Grosse Pointe. I am not in favor of turning the education of my children into a mishmash mess in order to save money for the state.

Christopher Smith, December 12, 2012

This is a fantastic proposal. How would families who choose faith based schools have access to the funds (if at all)?

Annemarie Harris, December 12, 2012

I commend the Oxford Foundation and Gov. Snyder for attempting to reinvent public education for the 21st century. I am deeply disappointed, however, that this proposal almost completely ignores THE most important strategy for ensuring career readiness of Michigan citizens: EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT. Yes, you inserted the state’s early childhood programs into this proposal which makes it seem like there is a seamless P-12 education finance system. But this proposal fails to acknowledge the direct influence that quality early childhood experiences have on a child’s long term academic achievement and lifelong success. Just recently, two studies were published on math, science and reading standings among students (in 4th grade and 8th grade) throughout the world. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/11/education/us-students-still-lag-globally-in-math-and-science-tests-show.html?smid=fb-share. What’s telling: “The test designers included questionnaires for parents about preparation before formal schooling. Ina V. S. Mullis, an executive director of the International Study Center, said that students whose parents reported singing or playing number games as well as reading aloud with their children early in life scored higher on their fourth-grade tests than those whose parents who did not report such activities. Similarly, students who had attended preschool performed better.” Study after study confirms: if you want to reduce the need for remedial education, improve math, reading and science skills, reduce the drop-out rate, increase educational attainment, and increase career readiness (among other laudable goals), then we must commit resources and leadership to ensuring that ALL children have quality early childhood experiences. Unfortunately, this proposal does not reflect (let alone embrace) that fact. As a result, this proposal will not achieve its worthy goals for Michigan’s citizens. I remain positive, however, that the Oxford Foundation and Gov. Snyder can alter this proposal and enact a finance system that places early childhood education as the most important strategy for ensuring our education system leads to career readiness and lifelong success. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Annemarie Harris (Grosse Pointe Woods resident, mom of 3 children enrolled in GP schools, and early childhood advocate).

Martha Toth, December 12, 2012

Here are my major concerns: 1. Equal access. • Already, the charter schools within my school district serve % as many special-needs students and % as many economically disadvantaged students as do the regular public schools. (based upon demographic data for the MEAP-tested grades). Your proposals will exacerbate the trend of concentrating the neediest students in the regular public schools without offering the greater resources required to serve them adequately. • “Any place, anywhere” schooling is only available to those who can get to it — which is precisely those students who are already better prepared for and supported in their schooling. • Selective enrollment will further accelerate the resegregation (by race, poverty, and disability) that is already evident in demographic data for charters. This is simply unacceptable in the United States of America. • The new forms of on-line schooling will be selectively available to those who have the technology and the Internet access to use them. 2. Accountability. • In looking through the demographic data for the charter schools within my district, I noticed a disturbing trend: the few special education students they do have tend not to take the Reading and Math MEAP tests, the ones that count in such metrics as Top-to-Bottom rankings and NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress ratings. Now, you propose to allow your new types of schooling to avoid such standardized testing altogether? It is unconscionable to call the majority of schools failures on the basis of this testing and then to exempt the “solution” schools from the same scrutiny. • I am alarmed at the open door for for-profit schooling with no attempt to screen operators for a history or even a capacity for the delivery of quality services. The miserable failure of on-line schooling, in particular, to adequately serve students elsewhere (note Colorado’s several-year, well-documented failures) should serve as a warning to us that profiteers will most certainly take advantage of this system, to the detriment of our children. 3. Lack of research supporting new initiatives. I thought the Governor’s standard for all government initiatives was that they incorporate research-driven best practices, which almost none of the elements of your plan do. How can you justify experimenting on our children, using public funds, while simultaneously undermining public school systems like my own that are doing the hard, day-to-day work of systematically improving teaching and learning in ways that are proven to work? Many of your “new ideas” are egregiously irresponsible in this regard. You persist in the magical thinking that simple solutions exist for complex problems. Research and documented practice show us what we must do — and your plan elements are mostly unproven or disproven techniques.

Erin Goward, December 12, 2012

This bill we hurt education and gives an unequal amount of power to corporations. Please consider what is good for our children. This bill is not.

Dave Clulo, December 12, 2012

This education proposal is unrealistic. It completely takes the “public” out of public schools. It allows the economically advantaged student to get whatever they want. The economically disadvantaged students will never be able to compete on a level playing field, unless that is what this proposal is about. In which case it will be very successful.

Evan Farmer, December 12, 2012

This plan should include provisions for those who choose to home school and/or participate in home schooling cooperatives.

Angela Phillips, December 12, 2012

With everything happening in Lansing in the last couple of days, we need more time to review the bill.

Martha Toth, December 12, 2012

CORRECTION: Earlier today I sent you a draft without the demographic percentages added. Please discard those comments and replace with these. Here are my major concerns: 1. Equal access. • Already, the charter schools within my school district serve 30.1% as many special-needs students, 8.5% as many with limited English proficiency, and 46.3% as many economically disadvantaged students as do the regular public schools. (based upon demographic data for the MEAP-tested grades). Your proposals will exacerbate the trend of concentrating the neediest students in the regular public schools without offering the greater resources required to serve them adequately. • “Any place, anywhere” schooling is only available to those who can get to it — which is precisely those students who are already better prepared for and supported in their schooling. • Selective enrollment will further accelerate the resegregation (by race, poverty, and disability) that is already evident in demographic data for charters. This is simply unacceptable in the United States of America. • The new forms of on-line schooling will be selectively available to those who have the technology and the Internet access to use them. 2. Accountability. • In looking through the demographic data for the charter schools within my district, I noticed a disturbing trend: the few special education students they do have tend not to take the Reading and Math MEAP tests, the ones that count in such metrics as Top-to-Bottom rankings and NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress ratings. Now, you propose to allow your new types of schooling to avoid such standardized testing altogether? It is unconscionable to call the majority of schools failures on the basis of this testing and then to exempt the “solution” schools from the same scrutiny. • I am alarmed at the open door for for-profit schooling with no attempt to screen operators for a history or even a capacity for the delivery of quality services. The miserable failure of on-line schooling, in particular, to adequately serve students elsewhere (note Colorado’s several-year, well-documented failures) should serve as a warning to us that profiteers will most certainly take advantage of this system, to the detriment of our children. 3. Lack of research supporting new initiatives. I thought the Governor’s standard for all government initiatives was that they incorporate research-driven best practices, which almost none of the elements of your plan do. How can you justify experimenting on our children, using public funds, while simultaneously undermining public school systems like my own that are doing the hard, day-to-day work of systematically improving teaching and learning in ways that are proven to work? Many of your “new ideas” are egregiously irresponsible in this regard. You persist in the magical thinking that simple solutions exist for complex problems. Research and documented practice show us what we must do — and your plan elements are mostly unproven or disproven techniques.

Paul Mattern, December 12, 2012

If dollars are following students; and I decide to home school my child; will I receive the compensation that an online institution would receive from my child taking a class via online?

Julia Ludwig, December 12, 2012

This is a not so subtle effort to dismantle the already troubled public education system. We should be committing to excellent public education everywhere in the state. This so called choice guts public education funding and puts too much responsible on already stressed families. In the same way that children should not be responsible for raising themselves alone, neither should they nor their parents be left to navigate a menu of education alternatives (some of which are companies created with the goal of making a profit. I am a parent who highly values education and I can tell you getting my daughter to complete an online Spanish course was an exercise in frustration – what happens to children whose parents don’t value education? This program of “an anytime, anyplace, any pace, any way model of public education” sounds great but it is similar to those programs such as “Clear Skies” which sounded pro environmental while really allowing more pollution. This is not pro child, it is pro business and those are definitely NOT the same thing.

Aaron Zuelke, December 12, 2012

I commend the desire to improve education, however I don’t understand your methods in that pursuit. First and foremost why would you put an attorney in charge of this project? Aren’t educators the experts in this arena, shouldn’t they be the ones creating this proposal? Secondly, all I here about is the failing schools in Michigan, what about all the successful schools? What does this proposal do to reward and encourage this type of school to continue to thrive? Also the model for this type of school funding doesn’t even address the fundamental issue that the per pupil allotment is inadequate. We spend 6 times more money on a prisoner in Michigan than we do on our future (our students) Won’t a proposal like this simply harm the already low performing schools and therefore the communities that are built around them. I think the proposal fails to even address the fact that a school in many communities is the heart of that community. Having the money go with the kid is simply going to fragment our already inconsistent education system. What needs to change first is the view of education. Educators need to be payed well in order to draw the best in the business (isn’t that in line with Gov. Snyders view). In addition schools that are failing need more support not more unachievable goals. They need great teachers (which make for great schools) and support for parents (which make for great students). Don’t do the easy thing and create a gimick that mimics some sort of business ideology. Schools are not businesses and should not be treated as such. They are and should be the heart of communities, the places where life and the lessons required to live it well are learned. If you want to change education…give all the teachers a raise. Get rid of the funding problems by providing a guaranteed per student allotment that actually funds what is required. Take away the adversarial and defensive posture that Gov. Snyder has created and instead adopt a “how can we serve you better” mentality. Ask the teachers what they need and give it to them. Teachers are the heart of a school and with great teachers you will have good students and a successful community.

Bob Myers, December 13, 2012

As a parent of two kids in public schools I must say this idea completely frustrates and angers me. This seems like a way to shift money from my kids’ classroom to corporate profit. I am thankful my kids are not in struggling districts, but it seems this plan will still siphon money from even good districts. And for kids who need a better experience….. Everything I read indicates that over 80% of charter schools are worse than the public schools they compete with. How are disadvantaged kids going to gain anything in this plan? It seems that education in this state really started to go quickly downhill when legislatures got involved. Things were way better when local communities were in control. If these bills outlined here pass….. I will support every recall attempt… I am traditionally a republican voter, but I cannot support a big government hand-over of education to profiteers. Public Education is the most important right we have in this country….. It deserves a well thought out solution that is designed, not by legislatures, but by educators. Trust them, they are good people.

Dan Dennis, December 13, 2012

This is another blatant attack on our schools that have been vilified as broken and behind the times. We need quality public schools, yes, but only 13% of charter schools outperform public schools and they can pick and choose their kids. Turning over education to private entities is not the answer. You want to fix public schools? Solve poverty. That is not going to happen though as Michigan continues to be taken apart. The poor and middle class are being farmed to fuel the rich yet again.

David Britten, December 13, 2012

To be introduced next session of the Michigan legislature, the Oxford Plan (drafted primarily by Richard McLellan, Mary Kay Shields, and Peter Ruddell of the Oxford Foundation at the request of Governor Rick Snyder) would totally rewrite the current School Aid language to allow students and their parents to “spend” their foundation grant for classes from any education provider (with or without certificated teachers). The “enrollment district” would be mandated to serve as a clearinghouse, receiving an undesignated fee per student for the task of managing and administering their students’ “vouchers” for the education choices they make. These choices can be either to attend full time in the “enrollment district” or concoct a number of ala-carte choices for taking classes including online, early college (if accepted), dual enrollment, or taking a class in a high school across town (or multiple classes in multiple high schools scattered throughout the area). No counseling is required for students or parents to assist in making programming choices that are appropriate to their abilities, fit their graduation needs, and support their college and career choices. The following provides a skeletal outline of the 300-plus-page framework: 1. Removes district “ownership” of a student 2. Provides online learning options with “performance funding” 3. Funding follows the student 4. Provides for performance-based funding for all courses (not clear on details) 5. Grants early graduation scholarships (up to 2 years early) 6. Promotes concept of year-round schools for economically-challenged students While on the surface, these may sound enticing, there are a number of shortcomings within the Oxford Plan which I attempt to address through the points that follow. At the end, I make some recommendations on which Michigan’s public education reform movement should be built. The Minnesota Experience This is in no way criticism of Minnesota’s education system, but the Oxford Plan’s authors have contended that Minnesota served as a model for their plan. If that’s true, it would be important to know whether the group considered a recent comprehensive study titled, False Choices: The Economic Argument Against Market-Driven Education Reform, conducted by Michael Diedrich, Minnesota 2020 Policy Associate, and released in January 2012. Here are key findings from this study: • Home to the oldest charter school law, Minnesota’s experience does not conclude that increased competition improves educational outcomes. o Math national test scores increased by less than 7% over 20 years since charters introduced o Reading scores increased by less than 1% during same period • The market approach to education doesn’t produce the gains needed to raise achievement levels for ALL students. • Public education cannot replicate the five necessary conditions for pure competition between traditional public schools and charters. • A Michigan study shows for-profit charters have a lower performance outcome than traditional public schools (Hill and Welsch White Paper). “…there is significant evidence that for-profit schools are less likely to have students scoring at a level that meets Michigan standards…even when adjusting for numerous school and district characteristics…” (Hill, Cynthia D. and Welsch, David M. Is there a Difference Between For-Profit Versus Not-for-Profit Charter Schools? University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Working Paper 08-02) • Market-driven approaches incentivize schools to increase public relations (advertising), sales pitches, and teaching-to-the-test that do little to improve real learning and achievement. • Minnesota’s (and Michigan’s) large rural makeup lacks the concentrated populations necessary to support a truly open market and choice throughout much of the state. • Voucher programs in states or cities where they have been approved have not demonstrated the ability to improve student achievement; students who change schools through school choice programs do not succeed at any higher rate than students who applied but were denied based on a random lottery. • Instead of being about innovation, charter schools have become about competition; this grows with the increase in for-profit charters. • The economic rationale that open enrollment policies foster competition between traditional public schools is flawed; they only serve to redistribute students based on individual or familial motivation and will not prepare ALL students for post-secondary success. • The fallacy that competition will drive all schools to produce universal college and career readiness assumes that teachers and administrators aren’t already driven to that goal and assume a self-interest that impugns the motivations and professionalism of school staff, further alienating those responsible for improving learning and student achievement; this naturally leads to resistance towards “carrot and stick” approaches that are based on flawed economics-centric thinking (versus student-centric). Additionally, the Oxford Plan leaves out a very important fact about Minnesota which is how the state far exceeded Michigan on a national ranking earlier this year regarding the overall level of K-12 funding and equity of funding across school districts. I refer more about this important relationship in later points. The data comes from Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card Second Edition: June 2012 (http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org/). Quality, Choice, Funding and Accountability The Oxford Plan leaves serious doubts about its ability to reform the Michigan K-12 systems in such a way so that it guarantees ALL students will be better served through higher levels of achievement as well as college and career readiness. Specifically, there are three main areas of concern: Quality: • Opens the door to for-profit entrepreneurs without establishing sound quality assurances to protect families exercising choice. • More choices that are based on a market-driven philosophy already shown in Minnesota to be deficient will not guarantee quality choices. • As in Minnesota, the creation of more choices has not made any significant improvements in Michigan education; the only recent reforms that can be linked to improved student achievement is increased graduation standards (MMC) and ACT testing for all students. Choice: • Virtually all of the choices in the Oxford Plan are already available to families and students. • Districts already work collaboratively with other districts for sharing of courses one or the other cannot afford. • Expanded dual enrollment options and a growing number of K-16 partnerships are already in place. • The illusion of increased choice by opening up ala-carte options to students across multiple school buildings and districts is not well thought out and presents a number of problems for the student and the districts involved: o Students deciding to skip the offerings of their “enrollment district” (Oxford’s term) and enroll in an online or nearby district class will end up costing the enrollment district significantly since the course still has to be offered to a smaller number of students; additionally, the course may need to be cancelled due to insufficient numbers of students enrolled creating havoc for student schedules and meeting graduation requirements. o Students travelling between districts for classes will lose the opportunity to carry a full load since the travel time will eat into the school day; this causes the student to be less than an FTE between the “sharing” districts and more funding is lost as a result; this is already a problem for students in dual enrollment or attending the Kent ISD CTE programs. o School schedules, term calendars, and credit designations are not standardized across Michigan schools; transfer students during the year often experience difficulties with this that the individual schools try to mitigate as much as possible; expanding the ability of students to take courses from multiple districts creates an undue burden on the districts involved and potentially hurts more than helps a student complete graduation requirements on time. Funding: • The Oxford Plan will further erode an already sorry state of affairs for local and state K-12 funding in Michigan. • Michigan already has one of the worst school funding systems in the nation for fairness and equity; districts with large concentrations of students living in poverty, struggling with the English language, and other societal and demographic characteristics that impede their educational progress are already underfunded substantially based on the needs of students to have equitable learning opportunities. • Recent budget reductions have left Michigan districts with less funding than received in 2005-06. • The slow economic recovery, threat of another recession, and a shrinking population base and birth rate already impact Michigan’s public school districts. • The Oxford Plan will make it difficult for districts to project student revenues; furthermore, the competitiveness of the plan will force districts to utilize diminishing resources to advertise and promote their schools. • Further economic instability for schools will simply erode programming choices for the vast majority of students who will not have the support system in place to move about the public education arena. • As has been pointed out in a number of studies, simply creating a market-place competitive education system does not lower costs; in fact, it leads to duplication of services and administration; the state’s own data shows the schools with the highest administrative expenses in the state as a percentage of per-pupil revenues are charter schools and the DPS district. • The Oxford Plan does not provide a method for ensuring that federal revenues are not lost by virtue of qualified students choosing to attend non-qualified districts or schools; with declining state revenues for K-12 education, Michigan can ill-afford to lose federal dollars. It’s worth repeating that the Oxford Plan does nothing to improve equity of opportunity for students who because of family, societal, mobile or demographic obstacles find themselves behind in school with little hope of catching up to their more affluent peers. In fact, it can be easily argued that the Oxford Plan’s basic foundation of ala-carte choice will serve to create a greater divide between upper and lower income students, and this in turn will lead to more segregation and inequity of opportunity. The Alliance for Education released a report in November 2012 (Inseparable Imperatives: Equity in Education and the Future of the American Economy retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org) that starts out by stating: Today, this moral imperative – to equitably provide all students with a quality education – is now a critical factor in maintaining the United State’s national economic strength. (p. 1) Pedro Noguera points out that: A big part of what is wrong with the current debate about reform is that it is dominated by what I think of as naïve optimists and radical pessimists. The naïve optimists are the ones promoting simplistic solutions like: “fire bad teachers,” “lengthen the school day,” “close failing schools,” or radically expand the number of charter schools without any real public accountability. What these so-called reformers have in common is that they seize upon a single idea or set of ideas to promote change and then assume that if we just follow this narrow prescription schools will improve. The record shows that they never do, especially not in the communities that suffer from the greatest economic and social challenges. (Moving Beyond the Polarized Debate, post by Pedro Noguera in Education Week’s Bridging Differences blog, Nov 27, 2012) Accountability: The Oxford Plan in its current iteration creates conflicts in accountability measures and procedures between Federal NCLB requirements (with state waiver) and proposed changes to State requirements. 1. Graduation on time: The bedrock foundation of the Oxford Plan calls on Governor Snyder’s vision of an “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way and Any Pace” public education system (emphasis added). However, current federal law labels a school as failing when students do not graduate on time, within four school years of entering their freshmen year. Thus “any pace” does not square with federal law even though this district agrees with the concept and does not feel any school should be labeled as failing if students in that school – especially those attending urban, poor, high ELL school districts – need a year or two more to master the Michigan Merit Curriculum standards and achieve college and career readiness. However, until the State of Michigan thumbs its nose at the 4-year mandate set by NCLB, this is not a reality. This district supports flexible, personalized learning for all students but regulations prohibit any real effort to provide such for students who want or need it. 2. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): There are many accountability problems associated with the ala-carte system of public education. It is simply not fair or equitable to expect that an “enrollment district” will be saddled with high-stakes achievement scores, graduation rates, and the potential for falling into the 5% PLA group when a student may be taking some core academic courses online, at a school in a nearby district, or at a local college. The enrollment district will have no impact on learning outside of its own jurisdiction and should not be penalized to support the ala-carte options. If the ala-carte plan is adopted, schools and districts should be exempt from including any scores of students not attending the enrollment district in a full-time capacity. Reform Recommendations While public education reform of the magnitude envisioned by Governor Snyder requires more than a handful of people sitting around the table tossing narrow ideas back and forth, I offer the following starting point recommendations. Funding Equity: Any successful reform effort has to begin by first recognizing that Michigan’s school funding is both inadequate and lends itself to creating inequity between students based on their demographics and zip code. The Oxford Plan, as I previously mentioned, fails not only to address inequity but also may contribute to lower revenues for struggling districts based on the ala-carte concept. A student with limited English communications skills, growing up in poverty, coming to school sick on a regular basis, or residing in a violent neighborhood is going to need more costly interventions that go beyond the classroom. Even within the classroom, this student is going to need a higher qualified teacher trained extensively to provide a learning environment designed to achieve high standards. The state’s base foundation allowance is insufficient in the current system and would only be worsened under components of the Oxford Plan. Several legislators recently introduced Michigan House Bill 6086 calling for the State to conduct a comprehensive statewide cost student to determine the basic cost per pupil that is necessary to provide a public education that enables every pupil to successfully complete all of the MMC credit requirements, demonstrate proficiency in all subject areas of the MME, and that meets the standards for adequacy and equity, defining equity to mean: …whether public resources being committed to public education are distributed in a way that all children, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, and geography, have an equal opportunity to succeed in school. It is likely that without the strong support of the Governor, this bill will not see the light of day in the current super-charged state of political conflict evident in our state legislature. Any effective, real education reforms hinge on this foundation of equity. Four Pillars for Education Reform: The NAACP recently released a research-based comprehensive reform plan for public education titled, Finding Our Way Back to First: Reclaiming World Leadership by Educating All America’s Children, 2012 (http://www.naacp.org/blog/entry/naacp-2012-education-report). The report provides an eye-opening comparison of some of the top achievement countries in the world versus the United States and notes the percentage of variance in student performance due to socioeconomic status differences. Governor Snyder should organize a broad coalition to undertake a critical analysis of this plan and how it could make a positive impact on Michigan. The four pillars are: • Prekindergarten prep for achievement – “One of the most important steps we can take to improve the life opportunities for children is to ensure that they have language- and literacy-rich early care environments.” (p. 6) This is particularly true in Michigan’s urban, impoverished communities, especially those with a growing percentage of limited English proficiency. • Effective teaching – more support should be put in place to ensure a high quality teacher entry program, ongoing job-embedded professional learning including instructional coaching, and an effective teacher/principal/superintendent evaluation program that is designed to support professional learning as it’s primary goal. In addition, Michigan has a tendency to only fund learning time when students are in front of a certificated teacher. Like Finland and other high-achieving countries, we need to place a higher value and financially support time during the day when teachers can gather to plan, collaborate, learn, analyze student learning, develop curriculum and assessments, etc. Squeezing more state and local revenues from district budgets makes this reasonably impossible and the constant anti-teacher rhetoric makes it difficult to gain public support for using time during the day for these critical improvement functions. • More time for learning – while the Oxford Plan mentions a longer school year for low achieving students, it fails to provide any insights into how this is to be funded and does not take into account how students can literally “escape” a year-round school system with the Oxford recommendation of an “ala-carte” education system. Most urban poor school districts have facilities that are inadequate for summer learning (spend a summer in our high school and you’ll agree) and lack the property values and bonding support make the facilities year-round. Beyond that, declining state and local revenues make it difficult to operate a facility over four Michigan seasons. However, if Governor Snyder can provide resources to make schools conducive to learning in any climate, we welcome the discussion of what elements comprise quality extended year programs. Until that discussion occurs with resulting financial resources made available for planning, training staff, and transitioning to a year-round calendar, this should not be forced upon schools that are not ready to provide a high-quality program. • Target spending for widespread success – basically, Michigan underinvests in its most neediest students through the inequitable funding process I’ve already identified. The state also under invests in preschool, leadership development, and whole-community supports for urban, poor, and ELL students necessary to compete with their more affluent suburban counterparts. Michigan has got to restructure its public education financing system to target more program, equipment, and structural resources to poor districts, aligning funding with student needs and investing in on-going teacher development. Programs like the Kent Schools Services Network (KSSN) have proven their worth in providing health and social services supports, but are stymied by limited financial resources to impact all students and their families needing help. Michigan should address this as a holistic approach to providing equitable financing and resources so that every K-12 student has a solid platform for achieving success. Reform begins with Elimination of the Graded-School Structure: Any true reform, including equitable financial support for K-12 public schools, should begin with a statewide adoption of a policy that eliminates the outdated graded-school structure. Research has demonstrated overwhelmingly that grading schools as kindergarten through 12th, compartmentalizing curriculum by single-year slices, and measuring success by whether or not a student moves through the system one calendar year at a time was wrong in the 1800’s, continued to be wrong throughout the 1900’s, and is a costly impediment to personalizing learning efficiently, economically, and effectively. Michigan’s education system should be anchored solely on a competency-based system of advancement which takes into account individual student and family needs. The graded-school structure was designed for efficient command and control, not to improve learning. It is the root of overall rising costs for public education due to a continuing need for remediation, special education, extended school days, summer school, tutoring, repeating grades and courses, etc. The Oxford Plan and Governor Snyder have an opportunity to revolutionize public education and once put Michigan at the forefront of real reform and improved student achievement. This is just a start. Building stronger K-16 ties and encouraging collaboration between all school districts – public, charter, for-profit, and private – are also critical enhancements. All Michigan school districts should have equitable access to instructional technology and the infrastructure necessary to support high-speed internet access. The burden of transportation should also be reduced through a funding scheme that provides resources based on the proximity between a student’s home and the school she attends. A better, more equitable system of financing facility construction and upgrades along with equipping state-of-the-art science and technology labs is also crucial to ensuring success for every child in achieving college and career readiness. Working collaboratively with the entire public education community would be a step towards achieving our goals. Respectfully submitted, David Britten Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Retired Superintendent of Schools.

Maria Miller, December 13, 2012

We need to keep our schools public!! There is already too much division between various groups!! We need to expose our youth to other points of view and cultural differences so they can learn to live in this world and solve future problems. The more private we make our schools, the more isolated and dogmatic opinions and beliefs become. Public schools are not run for profit or to teach one point of view. We need to know our neighbors and our communities to provide a stronger Michigan and USA. Public schools need good teachers not “for profit” corporations to control our youths’ education system.

Bob Mabbitt, December 13, 2012

This proposal is offensive and embarrassing. If it is enacted, my family will strongly consider leaving Michigan. Then again, maybe that’s the point.

Michael Lindley, December 13, 2012

As a former supt. I find this another detriment to local control. This should be several bills to improve constituent understanding and for the major parts to stand on there own merits.

Shana Milkie, December 13, 2012

I strongly disagree with the proposed Michigan Public Education Finance Project. The idea of funding following a student seems too much like a voucher program. I voted against vouchers when they were on the ballot in Michigan and I don’t support them now. I also don’t like the idea of for-profit businesses running classes using taxpayer funds. The money may be funneled through a school system, but it would still be creating profits for private companies. We need that money to strengthen our existing, local, community-based schools that are accountable to a community! I do not support the passage of this plan.

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