FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, August 30, 2019
Group identifies weighted school funding formula, literacy resources as one-two punch for maximum student success
LANSING, Mich. – To improve student achievement statewide, Michigan should adopt a school funding approach that serves the unique needs of all students and expand access to literacy resources across the state. These are initial consensus recommendations from Launch Michigan, a diverse alliance of education, labor, business and philanthropic organizations committed to establishing a shared agenda to ensure all Michigan students receive a best-in-class education.
“Across the business, education and philanthropic communities, we have agreed to no longer watch our kids continue to fall behind in a global economy that demands a skilled workforce more every day,” said Rob Fowler, Small Business Association of Michigan CEO and Launch Michigan Steering Committee member. “That’s why we formed Launch Michigan last year and are calling for the legislature to act on two areas where we’ve already reached consensus: school funding and literacy support.”
On funding, Launch Michigan members have agreed the state is long overdue for a weighted school funding formula that prioritizes equity, adequacy and effectiveness by making strategic, evidence-based investments in students with the greatest need. Specifically, Launch Michigan supports providing additional funding for special education, students living in poverty, English Language Learners, and Career and Technical Education programs.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to educating our kids, yet our current school funding approach treats them as if they have identical needs,” said Chris Wigent, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators and Launch Michigan Steering Committee member. “It should be obvious that it costs more to educate a student enrolled in special education or living in poverty – but the current funding methods ignore this basic fact. A weighted school funding approach would help ensure all students have a chance to develop their talents and prepare them for bright futures, whether that means college, technical training, apprenticeships, or jobs right after graduation.”
Improving literacy statewide must also be a top priority according to Launch Michigan members, as reading is the basis for learning and laying the foundation for student success.
“Literacy is the most basic component of closing Michigan’s skills gap that continues to limit opportunities in competitive, in-demand fields for far too many students,” Fowler said.
To improve literacy across our state, Launch Michigan members agree Michigan must expand access to literacy coaches statewide; identify and support adoption of top-quality curriculum materials and supports; and ensure educators get more and better professional learning around literacy best practices.
“These are only the first two areas where we’ve reached consensus among our diverse coalition,” Wigent said. “Starting with these steps will help all Michigan students achieve and succeed, regardless of zip code, income, learning challenges or other circumstances.”
Launch Michigan is continuing to have intense conversations about other policy areas, with an eye toward providing Gov. Whitmer and the Legislature with a broader set of evidence-based recommendations by the end of the year.
Anna Heaton, Business Leaders for Michigan
Doug Pratt, Michigan Education Association
Natalie Fotias, The Skillman Foundation