David Simpson is principal of Northern Hills Middle School in Grand Rapids.
As a middle school principal in the Grand Rapids area, I see firsthand our students at a critical stage in their academic and social development. Middle school is a challenging time for any student, regardless where they live or attend school.
Complicating matters for our kids, our current school funding formula treats all students as if they have identical needs. This is a major disservice to all Michigan students at this very important juncture in their education.
Our broken school funding approach dates back a quarter century and continues to fail our students as they begin to prepare for the next phase of their lives, whether it’s college, technical school, apprenticeships or jobs right after they receive their diploma. This isn’t sustainable, and it’s time for a new game plan to serve the needs of all Michigan students, no matter their circumstances.
Following years of inaction on this issue in Lansing, I was encouraged by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s bold proposal to invest an additional $507 million in the state’s 2020 budget to help all students achieve and succeed. I proudly support Gov. Whitmer’s school funding plan, which would triple the state’s number of literacy coaches and create a weighted formula to improve classroom resources for:
- Special education needs
- Low-income and at-risk children
- Career and Technical Education programs
The governor’s budget would also help local schools provide a high-quality education to all students by raising teacher pay, reducing class sizes and upgrading technology. 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.
Our schools continue to struggle to meet student performance standards, and we have a unique opportunity to embrace a new, fairer approach that gives all students the same shot at getting a good education and competing for jobs.
Under the current school funding formula, our kids continue falling behind their peers in an increasingly competitive global economy that demands a skilled workforce more each day. That’s not fair to them or our state.
Michigan can no longer utilize the same, one-size-fits-all school funding method and expect different results. Gov. Whitmer’s budget provides a unique opportunity to get this right and give all students the tools they need to succeed in the real world.