Opinion: Whitmer's school budget helps students succeed


As executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, I see firsthand the challenges our public school leaders face in serving the unique needs of their students, often doing more with less.

Our current school funding method is broken. It treats all students as if they have identical needs. This obsolete approach dates back 25 years, and — as seen in the headlines every day — continues to fail our students as they plan for college and careers.

With that in mind, I was encouraged by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to invest an additional $507 million in the state’s 2020 budget to help all students achieve and succeed, regardless of their circumstances. MASA supports Gov. Whitmer’s budget, which would triple the number of literacy coaches and create a weighted formula to improve classroom resources for:

n Special education needs

n Low-income and at-risk children

n Career and Technical Education programs

The governor’s budget also would help local schools provide a high-quality education to all students by raising teacher pay, reducing class sizes and upgrading technology. The governor’s plan allows a significant investment in meeting the needs of all Michigan students and undoes a decade of funding gimmicks. If passed, her budget would make huge strides toward improving every classroom in every community across the state, providing every child the chance to succeed.

Gov. Whitmer’s plan is a long-awaited departure from Michigan’s current, one-size-fits-all school funding method. The governor’s budget represents a new, fairer school funding approach that provides all students with the same opportunity to get a high-quality education and compete for 21st Century jobs.

Michigan’s public schools are struggling to meet student performance standards, and our kids are losing out on opportunities to their peers across the country every day as a result. This will only continue under the status quo, making now the time for a new school funding plan that provides all students with the opportunities for bright futures they deserve.

Gov. Whitmer’s plan goes a long way toward achieving that goal.

About the author: Chris Wigent is executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators.

This guest commentary first appeared in Bridge Magazine, an online publication of the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Michigan.