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Whitmer’s budget proposes tripling the number of literacy coaches and, most importantly, provides the funding to do it. This is a huge step in the right direction, especially as part of a broader investment in the education of every Michigan student.

Overall, Whitmer’s education budget proposes a $507 million increase in K-12 spending next year, the largest increase in education funding in 18 years. The plan includes a $180 per-student increase in the minimum foundation allowance and a substantial funding increase for instruction of at-risk, special education and career/technical education, acknowledging the reality that it doesn’t cost the same amount of money to educate every student.

These additional investments, beyond basic per pupil funding, will provide resources and extra assistance for groups of students most likely to struggle with literacy.

Solid research abounds in support of this substantial education increase. The 2017 School Finance Research Collaborative study determined that the base cost to educate a Michigan student (not including extra costs like at-risk and special education) is $9,590—approximately $2,000 less than we currently spend. A recent study by Michigan State University further highlighted our spectacular disinvestment in public schools, showing Michigan dead last among all states in education funding increases over the past 25 years.

To pay for this increase, Whitmer is making good on her pledge to halt raids on the School Aid Fund. According to a 2018 report from the Michigan League for Public Policy, $4.5 billion has been diverted from the SAF in the last decade. Just last December, the Legislature took $300 million in current and future school aid revenue to fund road repairs and environmental cleanups. We can’t continue to balance our state budget on the backs of Michigan’s children.

With increased funding, schools will have choices to make — good choices for a change. In addition to making long-delayed classroom investments like technology and books, some districts can reinstate school counselors, social workers, and librarians that were eliminated under past education funding cuts. In understaffed districts, some may decide to hire additional classroom teachers and reduce class sizes.

And real support will be available to help every Michigan student become lifelong readers and learners. March 19, 2019 – The Detroit News

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