Ed study finds true costs for students

The Detroit News

A recent op-ed in The Detroit News leveled false attacks against the School Finance Research Collaborative’s first-of-its-kind adequacy study. I’d like to set the record straight.

Having spent my entire life in Detroit, I have seen firsthand the challenges in meeting the wide-ranging needs of our students. For the past 30-plus years, I’ve sought new avenues to help Hispanic students achieve and succeed, including those who speak English as a second language.

On Jan. 17, the School Finance Research Collaborative took a giant step toward addressing the wide-ranging needs of these and all students across Michigan with the state’s first comprehensive adequacy study that determined the true cost for all students to reach the Michigan standards.

The School Finance Research Collaborative is a bipartisan and diverse group of business leaders and education experts from all corners of Michigan who agree Michigan’s school funding system is broken, and that a new approach is needed to prepare all students for college and the 21st Century workforce.

The School Finance Research Collaborative, which I’m proud to serve on, has produced the most comprehensive study of student achievement in Michigan in at least 50 years. Adequacy studies have provided the building blocks for education reform in more than 30 states over the past 15 years. In all of those states, adequacy studies have proven to be Step One toward any meaningful reforms that have resulted in improved student achievement.

Our report addresses the needs of all students, from Detroit to the far reaches of the U.P., all of whom face unique learning challenges that must be considered in a new school funding system. The study was conducted by the nation’s top two school finance research firms and informed by nearly 300 Michigan educators.

Our study provides a base cost for student achievement in Michigan, with additional funding considerations for special education, English Language Learners, poverty, district size, geographically isolated districts and transportation costs. It is also the first statewide study in the nation to include a special panel on charter schools.

Michigan’s students rank at the bottom in student achievement nationwide, and our current, cookie-cutter school funding system is failing all of them and threatening to bring Michigan’s economic comeback to a screeching halt.

Angela Reyes

founder and executive director,

Detroit Hispanic Development Corp.,

School Finance Research Collaborative member