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Parents, Educators Question Changes for State Education Funding

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Photo: Video by fox47news.com

Parents, Educators Question Changes for State Education Funding

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Jul 18, 2012

Current and retired teachers, school board members, and superintendents from across the state gathered to offer their input to Governor Snyder's hand-picked group responsible for rewriting Michigan's State School Aid Act.

The audience was pleased with many of the proposed changes, but some feared representation was missing from the group that will make decisions affecting everyone.

"Sitting here as a black female, I saw five white males talking about education, and none of them are truly educators....Something's wrong with that picture," said Freya Rivers, a retired teacher and administrator.

Governor Snyder's appointed group does agree there is something wrong with the picture of education funding in the state.

"This is the chance to change the system design, early childhood flowing to K-12, flowing to community college seamlessly," said state superintendent Mike Flanagan, who spoke on the panel. "That's what we have to get to."

Gov. Snyder wants the group, headed by Richard McLellan, to make sweeping changes. The governor thinks money should follow students to any district they want to attend, a plan known as "Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace." The focus will also be taken off of "count days" and onto performance.

Gov. Snyder hopes these main changes will allow schools to become more innovative, using technology in classes and blended learning to create an individualized experience for students. Parents are happy to hear that.

"For my children, all children, if it's more individualized, not based on one day of the year, and if you're getting funding for that child and that money for that child should follow that child throughout," said Jennifer Peterson, who has six children.

Educators worry an achievement gap will still exist even with the proposed changes.

"Funding isn't differentiated between poor students and students with means," Rivers said.

Gov. Snyder's group has taken this into consideration.

"This need to really focus on children at the bottom and how we address their issues," McLellan said.

It all boils down to making sure graduation rates improve no matter what the situation.

"I feel that every child deserves a proper education regardless if your family is millionaires or if your family is on government assistance," Peterson said.

The group said they might hold another public meeting in the fall. The new School Aid Act could be signed by Gov. Snyder by early 2013.