Time to overhaul Michigan’s arbitrary school-funding model

As chairman of Barton Malow Enterprises, I can tell you firsthand Michigan’s businesses rely on our K-12 schools to prepare students for the real world and careers in the global economy.

Unfortunately, long before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan has failed to invest in a K-12 school funding approach that meets the individual needs of all students and positions them for success.

The pandemic has shined a bright light on the enormous inequities and lack of fairness in how we fund our schools that limit opportunities for students to one day compete for jobs.

The public health crisis has also shined a huge spotlight on the glaring disparities already in place due to our obsolete school funding approach. One example is the digital divide, which magnifies the lack of access to technology and broadband across our state. How can we prepare students for 21st century careers if they don’t

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A Labor Day Plea to Protect Michigans Essential School Workers / Public News Service

School support staff are sometimes not granted the same workplace protections as other educators. (Adobe Stock)

September 4, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — As Michigan celebrates the American worker over the Labor Day weekend, some of those who support K-12 learning say their contributions are being taken for granted.

There are thousands of paraprofessionals, food-service workers, school nurses and secretaries throughout Michigan, and Jeff Whittle — president of the Macomb Intermediate Federation of Paraprofessionals — said they are integral to how school districts function.

He contends many support staff workers will be back to the job this fall without adequate health and safety measures and equipment in place.

“Everybody’s competing amongst themselves to get their own PPE,” said Whittle. “A paraprofessional told me that their school district told the support staff that they would have masks for the teachers – but the paraprofessionals would have to provide their own masks.”

There

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