News Story

Education Rally Long on Emotion, Short on Facts

Many false statements at 'Michigan Teachers and Allies for Change' event in Ann Arbor

A group calling itself the “Michigan Teachers and Allies for Change” held a rally in Ann Arbor to promote more funding for conventional K-12 schools, according to MLive. Not everything claimed at the rally, however, is accurate.

The MLive story reported: “Students in Ann Arbor Public Schools saw their class sizes rise at the beginning of last year as a result of eliminated teaching positions due to budget constraints.”

The district reported that it issued layoff notices to 233 teachers in the spring of 2013. However, in the fall the district told Michigan Capitol Confidential only one full-time teacher and one part-time teacher actually were laid off.

An analysis of publicly available teacher and student headcount data shows that class size has remained fairly stable in the district: The number of students per full-time teacher at AAPS has increased by less than 1 percent over the past of five years.

The MLive story reported: “Though teachers say they work hard to make sure the students in their classes don't feel the impact of budget cuts in the district, there are times—like when classes are eliminated—that it can't be avoided.”

The district’s general fund revenues have increased the past two years, according to budget documents the district provides online. General fund revenues were $191.61 million in 2011-12 and rose to $193.56 million in 2013-14.

The MLive story reported: Ann Arbor Huron High School teacher Chris Erickson was quoted as saying he taught in Texas and other states on the East Coast. Erickson said: "I worked in a state that didn't fund through Proposal A, and so we had a lot of money for assistance and for structures to help students. I think one of the biggest things with cuts is that it becomes a lot more difficult to do the job of instruction when there aren't support systems in place. I think the challenge is doing all the things we want to do for students, but with the funding cuts it's kind of difficult to do those things for students."

The latest U.S. Census Bureau report released in May of 2014 that is based on 2012 data shows that Michigan spent $11,120 per pupil in local and state revenues while Texas spent $9,015 per pupil in local and state revenues.

Also, according to the Michigan Department of Education, Ann Arbor Public Schools has received $6.4 million more in funding in the past three years despite having 82 fewer students. Ann Arbor received $92.7 million in state money for 16,480 students in 2013-14 compared to $86.3 million for 16,562 students in 2010-11.

The MLive story reported: Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift said: “The excitement we all feel about welcoming our children back occurs against a backdrop of the lagging investment in Michigan children. That has occurred over a decade of dramatic reductions to education.”

Over the last four years, funding to K-12 schools has increased, up to $12 billion in 2014-15, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. Overall, if federal dollars are included, K-12 education will reach $13.8 billion in 2014-15, almost $1 billion more than in 2010-11.


See also:

Why Do Michigan Residents Falsely Believe Education Spending is Down?

Which Michigan School Districts Pay The Most?

States Spending Less Money On K-12 Education Getting Better Results

Michigan School Funding Up, Results Flat

Like a Broken Record, MEA Complains About 'Insufficient Funds'

A 'Crisis' That Never Ends

Pension Costs Mean Tighter Budgets For Taxpayers, Classrooms

Advocates of More Education Spending Ignoring Billions In Other Funds

The $2 Billion Education Funding Myth

Reality Check: Michigan Public Schools Getting More Money For Fewer Students

Michigan Schools Never Saw a $1 Billion Cut

Despite Fewer Students, Michigan School Funding Going Up, Up, Up

Michigan School Districts In Perpetual 'Funding Crisis'

Michigan Outspends Florida on Education But Does Worse Than The Sunshine State