Menu

What Does it Really Cost to Educate Students? Let’s Take Another Stab at Figuring it Out.

Gilda Jacobs

By Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO, Michigan League for Public Policy

Rob Fowler

And Rob Fowler, President and CEO, Small Business Association of Michigan

DashBoard, Feb. 22, 2017

On Jan. 10, we officially launched the School Finance Research Collaborative, a broad-based and diverse group of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the U.P. who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded.

The collaborative is bringing together top industry experts to reexamine our approach to financing Michigan’s schools to fully prepare all students for jobs and success, from our urban centers to the suburbs, to rural areas and the U.P. You can learn more about our ongoing effort at fundmischools.org.

It’s become abundantly clear that the way Michigan funds its schools is broken. We must reexamine our approach so all students can achieve and succeed.

Small businesses, which fuel Michigan’s economic engine, rely on our public schools to prepare students for jobs, technical education and college so they are fully prepared for the rapidly evolving 21st century workforce.

Currently, our K-12 school funding decisions are made based on the current economic condition of the state and political compromise. But those decisions fail to address the long-term question, “What will it take to prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s economy?” It’s an issue of crucial importance to entrepreneurs, who report that access to talent is one of the biggest challenges to future small-business growth and success.

Working together, the School Finance Research Collaborative will create a roadmap to providing great learning opportunities for the next generation of young people, whether they work in the private and public sector or launch their own firms as entrepreneurs.

The state-funded Michigan Education Finance Study, released in June of last year, provided useful data on how we can better serve all students. The collaborative will build on those findings by conducting a truly comprehensive school adequacy study.

Some people have prematurely criticized the collaborative, claiming our work will invariably lead to recommendations for more school funding. We’re committed to letting research—not any preconceived notion or agenda—drive the Collaborative’s work in the months ahead.

Our goal is to collect the best, most complete and most accurate information on what it truly costs to educate our students, something that has never been done in a comprehensive way in Michigan.

The collaborative’s report will use multiple proven and established methods to measure school funding adequacy. At the end of this process, we will deliver those findings to Michigan policymakers, stakeholders and taxpayers.

Our overarching goal is to prepare all students for jobs and bright futures right here in the Great Lakes state. The success of all of our students will keep Michigan’s economic comeback charging forward.

We hope the collaborative’s wide-ranging expertise will shed a guiding light on this crucial process as it moves forward.

Note: This article first ran in Bridge Magazine on Jan. 23, 2017.

Read More DashBoard Articles