Opinion | Gov. Whitmer’s school budget helps students succeed

Chris Wigent is executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators

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 and 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:

  • 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. 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.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission.

If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Monica WilliamsClick here for details and submission guidelines.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Thu, 05/30/2019 - 9:24am

This $507 Million is part of the money that was directed to be spending on the roads under the Snyder administration and was shifted away from roads to schools by Whitmer?

Jim Pearson
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 1:30pm

It is stunning to hear people say this, particularly GOP legislators, when it is really the opposite. The governor appears to be trying to restore some money to the School Aid Fund that the Legislature has been using as a piggy bank for other expenditures the last eight years, $908 million this current year alone. Source: Michigan School Business Officers: https://www.msbo.org/sites/default/files/gfsupport_saf.pdf

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 3:07pm

Since her campaign slogan was fix the damn schools , it makes perfect sense she'd take money from the damn roads .... oh wait it was fix the damn roads!

Jan Daniels
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 9:51am

The real need is for parents to be ac
tively involved in their children's education.

Wayne O'Brien
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 11:03am

Florida has made astonishing gains modeled after their "A+" programming initiated under Jeb Bush while actually spending a little less (not more) per pupil. Is is posssible for the commentator to point to any overlap between what the less successful will do with additional money that the more successful are already doing with diminishing funding? Will this additional money equip so-called Michigan literacy-coaches with brand new Harry Potter wands in order to cast magical "everyone-can-now-read" spells? Did this happen in Florida? What about Finland? Do they have literacy coaches in Finland? There is no magic in money! What are the KNOWN determining factors for actual success and what are the REAL systemic and fundamental changes that need to be addressed in Michigan? Until each is recognized, disclosed and fully permeates the grey matter of policy makers, legislators, parents and educators money will remain a chimera, offering illusory false hopes. American philosopher, John Dewey pointed to the importance of "high quality" decades ago and in the 80s the folks in Finland used his educational philosophies to transform their schools.....Dewey did not advocate for "high quality" magick wands! How can Michigan policy makers learn to couple appropriate funding with wise spending at every level? And where in the world is this already being done? Which successful models can Michigan emulate?

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 2:21pm

The US as a whole is at the very top of the pile when looking at education spending per pupil but way down the list on actual outcomes. We hear this same thing over and over when looking at OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM but never when considering our educational systems. Simple facts that our system can't abide; Europeans don't do school sports! Dad can't feed his fantasy that Junior is going to be the star athlete or go to the majors! Not much music or art either. These are what after school programs are for. Schools there are for education narrowly defined. Two, Choice, individually and flexibility. Students can get some subjects one place and others at another and bounce around at will. They follow their own schedule largely and once they've tested out of their subjects they're done! Not the idea that 13 years and 180 days a year are required to be educated. Big emphasis on trades and apprenticeships. Kids have to quantify to enter some elite programs, yes some can't get in!! Sometimes parents and their kid must face it that they're not going to get a Nobel prize, but can be a great mechanic! Schools don't participate in the fantasies we encourage and have our kids live in! Yet the Europeans tromp us on all other matrices. Seems it's not in this guy's interests or abilities to even consider any other approach. Same old k - 12 180 days a year, school assignment by zip code and all the kids can be above average, just need more money!

middle of the mit
Fri, 05/31/2019 - 11:53pm

Everything that you complained about blaming schools and teachers for, is everything that a recent local article in my local paper said was full of bull puckey!

They were complaining about parents and the way they treated referees at their own local games!

And hey! I live in the most republican area of MI short of the UP!

Who are you going to blame for that?

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 3:09pm

Huh? Exactly what is blaming the teachers in any of this?

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 3:09pm

Huh? Exactly what is blaming the teachers in any of this?