Before Schools go Shopping

It’s happening…

The worm is slowly turning for teachers in Michigan!

Our new governor has proposed a very formidable hike to public education in this state.

While I say “HURRAY” for all the schools who will receive the benefits of this move,

I also want to say:

“Proceed with caution” to the group that will mete out this money.

With public education spurned for so long, some may want to throw the money at every program and every possible deficit.

But as I learned through doing nonprofit work, money doesn’t always buy happiness.

Don’t get me wrong. This gesture is a huge step in the war for public school success.

I believe that lack of funding is one of the highest hurdles faced by schools.

My fear, however, is who will manage this money?

I believe all money should be accounted for as it is spent.

Call me crazy, but I have been around enough to know that grant money that must be spent, is sometimes on things that are not completely investigated. I have had one case, in particular, where I was told I would receive a parking pass each time I worked with the group, but as the session wore on, those in charge told me to go ahead and receive a parking ticket ($25 each time) instead of figuring out who might have the pass. It was a blatant waste of money, and when fees accrued to nearly $100, I couldn’t take it any longer. I parked in the public lot and dragged my stuff to the leadership group.

Here is my take:

  • Bolster per pupil funds to make the classroom a place of equitable learning.

  • Have enough (materials, support, staff) so that all kids get what they need both academically and social emotionally

  • Avoid flash in the pan programs that have no empirical data that proves their worth.

  • Establish a cohort in the state that will look at all proposals and decide what is best practice.

Superintendents, principals, please don’t take this advice as being a slam against you. What is good and sustainable is what I am aiming for.

For example, I just spent a day sorting books donated to early career educators. Among the thousands of books I looked at were: Whole Language Readers, Reading series readers, Leveled readers, and Dibels Readers. Great for us, but passe’ to today’s classrooms.

How much money do you think was cast off here?

What determines BEST PRACTICE?

Is it based upon the districts with money?

Is there a representation of a common slice of the pie?

Or are there needs to be met first to lift some schools up to a common starting point?

Are facilities the same?

What about the quality of the teachers?

A few summers ago, I worked in a Michigan public high school. The windows were broken. There were mice skittering around the classroom. No air conditioning. Someone had left a package of buns in the teacher work area. The expiration date was 2 months past. Hallways were monitored by cameras except for one, which I was told not to go down by myself.

This was a public high school in Michigan.

Yet, there are wonderfully bright, air conditioned, showplace high schools within 10 miles of this one.

Equity? Mismanagement? Something else?

SO, BRAVO, Michigan!

You are leading the way in this fight for better education! Although we can’t change the weather climate, we are certainly coming up with reasons for teachers to stay here in Michigan and feel supported.

Thanks for listening.

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