Snyder’s Michigan Budget Ties Funding to Achievement

In an attempt to capitalize on the state’s positive economic outlook, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants to see more money delivered to well performing schools that can prove how their students are learning from year to year.

Republican Rick Snyder’s plan for districts to compete for $70 million in extra state money is part of a growing trend in performance-based education funding as cash-strapped states look for ways to do more than just spread scarce dollars around, writes Kathy Barks Hoffman at the Associated Press.

While Michigan is set to face a relatively light new budget year – having shaken off most of its ten year deficit –  Snyder wants to boost the funding of schools, rewarding those on how well they educate.

Snyder said:

“This year we had a surplus, so we had a lot of requests for funding.

“But good budgeting isn’t about taking that surplus and giving everyone a little bit more money … (it’s about) rewarding success and results.”

The extra money would be divided according to district and not individual school performance. If a district can prove that its third to eighth graders have acquired above-average knowledge in several subjects over a four-year period or shown a year’s worth of learning in reading or math then they may be in line for more cash.

However, critics say that the plan exposes schools without the resources to implement improvements.

State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton said:

“Any money that will be funneled back to our schools is, of course, a step in the right direction.

“However, these funds will only provide the bare minimum in restoring the drastic and unnecessary attack on our children’s education that left our schools to increase class sizes and without money for books, teaching materials and support staff.”

Teacher Jennifer Bonutti said:

“They want to tie the money to performance, (but) we’re still going to have overcrowded classrooms.

“How can that teacher be effective with 35 kids? As a parent, it’s frustrating. As a teacher, it’s tough.”

While Snyder is seeking $70 million for the incentive project, that’s just a small fraction of his proposed $12.5 billion school aid budget, which he outlined during a speech Thursday.

Michigan State Board of Education member John Austin is worried that funding remains too low.

He believes that Snyder is taking the right steps to reward public schools, community colleges and universities for their performance, but recent cuts to these institutions have been “decimating”.

He said:

“We have not combined accountability reforms with sufficient resources to empower great teaching, and turbocharge our colleges and universities as engines of opportunity.

“Other states and countries are much more committed to education.”