Investing in Our Kids = Investing in the Future
Supporting commitments to public schools is not just a sign that you care about kids. It’s good business sense. Schools are one of the most important factors a family considers when deciding where to buy a home. When our public schools do well, our kids do well. And when our kids succeed, our communities THRIVE. The public education system is the building block of the American Dream and the cornerstone of a healthy middle class.
I’m the daughter of a teacher and wife to another. I know what kind of people teachers are. Which is part of why I’m so very proud to be endorsed by the Michigan Education Association and American Federation of Teachers. Throughout my life I’ve heard, time and again, how one size does not "fit all” when it comes to educating our kids. My father has taught vocational education his entire career, electronics, and robotics, and even shop still today. My husband taught in a charter school for years before landing in a public district. There are a time and place for alternative paths, and not every child is going to go to a four-year college. And because every child is different, finding a funding formula sure is not easy. It obviously costs more to educate children in preschool, or children with learning disabilities, or kids that have been drinking lead-tainted water. But public schools have a disproportionate number of children with special needs. When public tax dollars are allocated on a per pupil ratio and diverted to charter schools, the money needed to care for and educate these children is not available. It’s not fair.
We need to rethink how we fund public education, and how Michigan handles charter schools. No other state has as many charters as we do, and with the proliferation of charters comes the degradation of our public schools. No public tax dollars should be allocated to for-profit charters, which is about 85% of the charter schools we have in this state.
You might hear that this year, more money than ever is being spent on public education - but that’s not the entire picture. In fact, our funding levels, adjusted for inflation, are still lower than they were a decade ago. Furthermore, the “extra money” being spent isn’t going into the classroom. The public districts have to turn around and hand that money right back to fill the pension system. Charter schools do not have the same legacy costs, are not required to be as transparent as public schools. This is inherently unfair.
Funding vocational and trade schooling is a good start and I’ll support it. But it’s hardly enough. The School Aid Fund needs to be for that - schools. It should be for teacher training, keeping class sizes small, and ensuring that ALL kids, regardless of circumstances, are given a chance to succeed. I will go full throttle to hold schools accountable, keep classroom sizes manageable and give teachers the resources they need to prepare our kids for the challenges they will face. Our children deserve far more than curriculum designed to "teach to the test." They deserve music, art, and vocational classes that will keep them inquisitive and appreciate everything the world has to offer. The schools in the 38th District consistently perform at the highest levels and we should work together to not just keep it that way, but make them better.