A tour of the TCAPS school district Wednesday ended with a job for Ann Cardon, the board of education’s choice for superintendent.
This is good news for the 10,000 student-strong district, and we congratulate Cardon on her new job and the TCAPS board of trustees for their good hire and mindful process.
The kids will be released for summer break in a couple of weeks, but administrators will continue to work on the issue of school funding equity — and Cardon brings experience with her.
She has spoken out on it before, noting that Proposal A doesn’t cover major disparities that exist from district to district, as repeatedly shown by the annual School Finance Research Collaborative.
“Equal doesn’t mean equity, and we need to look at the characteristics of the students we’re educating and the characteristics of the district,” Cardon told WSJM News in 2018. “We need to look at size, we need to look at the number of special education students, what our socio-economic level is, how many English language learners we have, and then fund that appropriately.”
TCAPS' board also leveled a political shot across the bow this month, calling on the state to fund all school districts at $8,409 per student. TCAPS currently is funded at the lowest per-pupil amount of $7,781 — nearly $4,500 less than districts like Bloomfield Hills at $12,244.
Proposal A had a good philosophy at its back, but for practical purposes, it has landed Michigan schools dead last in funding, and way at the bottom of test scores that measure learning. The School Aid Fund — designed to “maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law’ as required by the Michigan Constitution” — gets tapped for higher education instead.
An August 2018 report from the Michigan League for Public Policy reported more than $4 billion of School Aid Fund money went to universities and community colleges since 2010.
We’re also failing in special education; last summer, Michigan’s high drop-out rate and poor performance landed us in “intervention status” for not meeting federal requirements, according to a U.S. Department of Education evaluation.
So, what if we all play our legal, state-run lottery a bit more?
Bridge Magazine recently did a piece on the flow of green (property tax) and orange (lottery) money to schools, and found that 26 percent of the Michigan Lottery goes to schools, the rest back into the lottery (62 percent to winnings; 9 percent went to lottery vendors and retailers; 3 percent was used for the lottery operations and administration). And while $941 million in 2018 is nothing to shake a pointer at — it adds up to only 7.5 percent of school funding. The vast majority comes from sales tax (Proposal A).
New Superintendent Cardon has proved that she’s willing to go to bat for Michigan students, as we seek a better way to fund our students.
We’re glad to have her on the team.
— Ann Cardon joins our community as superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools.
— We welcome her, and are impressed with her qualifications — especially relating to the pressing issue of school funding equity in our district and statewide.