A VIBRANT & EQUITABLE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM
Michigan's schools, once the pride of our state, are in a downward spiral. School funding is greatly inadequate, as a recent bi-partisan study found. And the increasing number of for-profit schools in Michigan is further undermining our public school system in many areas by siphoning off public school revenues which are given on a per-pupil basis. For example, in the Ypsilanti Community School area, over half of students do not attend public schools. Lack of funding means class sizes that are too large, and many fewer music, art, theater, and advanced high school classes that prepare students for college.
Charter schools in Michigan operate on taxpayer funds but without adequate public oversight. And Michigan has a higher percentage of for-profit charter schools than any other state.
The combination of a broken funding system and use of public dollars for private, for-profit schools has resulted in underfunded schools statewide, as well as vast inequities from one school district to the next, areas without a public school nearby, and extreme financial stresses on the public schools and on our teachers.
Schools are about children, and about our future: not about profit. Teachers play a crucial role in our country, state and economy. They should be honored and paid fairly, not have their pay and pension continually subject to the political whims of the state legislature. It's heartbreaking that we have allowed a vast social and economic experiment that has sacrificed our children's education to profit.
What I've done & what I'm doing. As an educator who has taught in settings including middle school, high school, community college, and adult education, I am passionate about bettering our education system. In my role as County Commissioner, I have worked to better school nutrition through extension of the 10 cents a Meal program to three County school districts. In 2017, I voted in support of a civil rights approach to addressing the inequities that hurt our youth and schools. We have had enough of a top-down approach to school transformation: I will work with and listen to our local school leaders, teachers, faculty union representatives, and the community in my efforts.
As your next State Senator, I will work to:
- Support universal early childhood education, including literacy outreach for children under three.
- Fix the funding: Stop funding for-profit schools with taxpayer dollars, reinstate the cap on charter school numbers, aid school districts with high debt loads, increase funding at all levels, and grant equitable funding.
- Ensure an excellent education for every student with appropriate class sizes; restored recess time; updated technology; and expanded offerings in the arts and sciences.
- Increase input into state-level education decisions: include teachers, students, parents, labor reps, administrators, and local elected leaders.
- Provide fair compensation, professional development, and better working environments in order to value teachers' work, reduce turnover, and address our looming teacher shortage.
- Transition to free two-year and four-year public colleges and universities for Michigan students.
- Expand lifelong learning opportunities, with increased funding for adult education, including skilled trades training and workforce transitioning.