Cadillac Public School’s fall student enrollment is higher than anticipated according to district superintendent Jo Spry. That’s good news for the district, because it means in October the 4th Friday Count will provide a boost in per-pupil funding. School tuition in Michigan is still below 2006 school spending levels in the state, and public schools struggle to keep their districts open thanks to Rick Snyder’s 2011 one billion dollar school budget cut.
Michigan’s public schools more than any other state must compete with “school choice” for-profit options like charter schools and online education. The purpose of school choice of course is to take even more money from public education and make it harder for our schools to function. For-profit charter schools alone pull a billion dollars per year from the state school budget, and far too much of that money never gets spent on education, but rather goes into management companies’ profits. Online education such as K12 Education is promoted by Mackinac Center, and board member and former Michigan Governor John Engler owns over eight thousand shares of stock in the “school choice” company. Our tax dollars don’t offer parents and their children school options, they line the pockets of people siphoning tax dollars from our public schools.
Rick Snyder insists he raised funding for K-12 education in Michigan, but what he really did was an old accountant trick called “cooking the books.” He lumped secondary education together with K-12 education and by combining the budgets of both into one he pointed at the bigger number and proclaimed, “I raised school funding!” No, he didn’t. Our schools are still grossly underfunded and many districts are suffering from the continued budget cuts. An increase of $50 to $125 per pupil still puts our school funding below what Michigan public schools received eight years ago.
Hopefully Cadillac Public Schools’ good news about higher enrollment will be reflected in other Northern Michigan schools. Many districts no longer have music, art, home economics/life skills classes because the money doesn’t exist for those subjects to be taught. Sports programs for many districts now are pay-to-play because there is no money for the district to fund athletics. Marion High School has no varsity football team this year due to lack of students signing up to play. As more people learn the truth about the real damage school choice has caused our state public education system, we will have the opportunity to do something about it on November 4, when we elect Mark Schauer as our next Governor, and reverse the damage Rick Snyder has inflicted on our schools.