For more than a quarter century, Michigan public schools have been financed under a structure commonly known as Proposal A. This funding system's greater dependence on using state revenue to finance an enrollment-based funding formula has led to greater parity among districts over time and fueled more publicly supported schooling options for parents. A student-based funding model rewards school officials and leaders when they pay attention to and serve the particular needs of students because parents can vote with their feet.
The unique shock of COVID-19 has amplified the pressure on rigidly designed school systems to adapt effectively to serve students with increasingly varying and diverse needs. Extended school building closures reshaped the day-to-day and familiar activities of faculty and staff in the short run, while business closures and private sector layoffs threatened key sources of school tax revenue. Looking to the future, Michigan should focus on tying education dollars more directly to student needs and choices and on empowering educator flexibility to meet changing local needs. This report explores this issues and lays out principles for policymakers in empowering more parents with control and choice of their children's educational experience.