Big Win for Celebrating Vulnerable Students
Over the course of the past year, Ed Trust-Midwest and our partners have been advocating tirelessly for changes to Michigan’s school funding system that would account for critical needed investments for Michigan’s students, particularly students with the greatest needs.
This year’s budget reflects some major news for vulnerable students. While there’s much more work to be done, we are buoyed that our collective efforts are making an impact.
On July 1, the Michigan legislature approved an historic school aid budget. The budget was signed by Gov. Whitmer July 14. This year’s budget not only contains a record amount of funding for our schools, but it also prioritized spending for traditionally underserved students. In fact, this new state budget represents the most equitable budget the state has passed in several years. Here are some key wins:
- Funding for at-risk programs and special education both received unprecedented increases in funding. English learners also received an increase of $1.3 million. These increases are the result of strong lobbying and advocacy from our coalition partners in the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, and the willingness of the Governor and legislative leaders to make this a top priority during negotiations.
- Under current Michigan law, at risk students are supposed to receive an extra 11.5 percent in funding each year. For the past several years this has not been the case, but this year’s budget increases funding by $223.0 million to ensure they are receiving the full 11.5 percent. This equals an extra $1,052 per at-risk student. This additional funding will begin to address the opportunity and achievement gaps among low-income students.
- Special education costs have also historically been underfunded in the state. State funding has improved over the past few years, but this year marks the largest state investment in special education. The budget contains an increase of $312 million which will help ensure students with disabilities receive the services they need while also freeing up additional dollars for the classroom.
- Michigan’s formula for English Learners is among the lowest in the country. We had advocated for a more robust increase to bring us in line with other leading states. However, we are still pleased that the legislature agreed to increase funding by 5 percent for English Learners next year. This will begin to address the unique needs of this student population.
We celebrate the good work the Governor and legislature have done to improve equitable education in our state — and our many partners who are advancing these collective efforts. In particular, the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity and its many leaders and organizations have done a truly notable job on advancing more equitable funding recommendations over the last two years. We applaud these partners’ exceptional commitment and work. Learn more about us and ways you can become involved at: https://partnersformistudents.org/
There is always more to do but we recognize the state’s willingness to prioritize funding that helps the most marginalized students. We will continue working with our coalition leaders, legislative partners, business community and others to build upon the strong foundation that this budget represents.
We know much more needs to be done to account for all students’ needs. But this budget represents a start, and momentum is growing for transformational changes to Michigan’s school funding system.