A recent commentary by Michael Van Beek, education policy director, was cited Sunday in a Bay City Times story about school cuts across Bay County.

While school officials told The Times the problem is due to school funding, Van Beek pointed out that is not true, explaining it's an issue of expenses. His piece, titled "The Source of the School Budget Quagmire," shows that school funding - when adjusted for inflation - has increased $3,000 per student since the passage of Proposal A.

Van Beek's contention is supported by Tom Watkins, former state superintendent of public instruction, who wrote in Sunday's Livingston Daily Press & Argus that school funding increases are absorbed by personnel costs.

"If there was a truth-in-advertising law in Michigan, the Department of Education would have to change its name to the Department of Health Care and Pensions, because that is where our tax dollars are going," Watkins wrote.

Watkins, who has sided with the Center on issues such as teacher merit pay, wrote in the Livingston Daily that while the governor and Legislature know Michigan's school funding system is in need of an overhaul, they have "avoided the advice of studies and recommendations from distinguished organizations" such as the Mackinac Center. Watkins also wrote about this issue, citing the Center, in Sunday's Oakland Press.

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