As a past president of the Michigan School Business Officials and a chief financial officer for a school district in SW Michigan, I look forward to finding out how the EduJobs bill that President Obama signed yesterday will impact K-12 education in Michigan. Many of my colleagues at schools throughout Michigan have reduced teaching and support staff through layoffs, early retirement incentives, outsourcing, and more.
Having just over $300 million in additional dollars to support K-12 education in Michigan is, in my humble opinion, a good thing. Many of our urban and rural districts have struggled during a decade of tight funding and budget cuts. The children in Kalamazoo, Benton Harbor, Hartford, Niles, Allegan, and many other school systems in SW Michigan will benefit.
(If the $300 million is allocated purely on a per student basis, then districts may receive nearly $200 additional per student. There are nearly 1.6 million students in Michigan's public schools. How the funds will be allocated remains to be decided in Lansing and schools may not find out for some time, probably not until well after school starts at Labor Day.)
I am also saddened at the same time by this bill's "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul." Obviously, there is a huge debate at the federal and state level about fiscal responsibility. Many people of good will are concerned about deficits at the federal level and the legacy that these may leave for our children and grand children. I share these concerns.
However, I remain frustrated that part of the funding for the EduJobs bill comes from a $12 billion reduction in federal food stamps. Our children, all children need full bellies in order to learn.
Woodrow Wilson once said:
"Hunger does not breed reform; it breeds madness and all the ugly distempers that make an ordered life impossible."
I am appreciative of additional funding for K-12 education. We need to have a dialogue about solving the long term financial problems of our country, a serious and earnest dialogue. In the meantime, I wish we would learn other ways to balance our budgets and reduce spending than cutting food assistance for our neediest citizens.
More information on the EduJobs bill can be found at: