Michigan Makes History as it Joins Nation’s Leaders in Investing More in Districts Facing Concentrated Poverty

New School Funding “Opportunity Index” Makes Michigan Among First Ten States in the U.S. for Innovation in Investing in Public School Districts Based on Poverty Level; New State Budget Also Makes Important Immediate Investments in Students Who Qualify for At-Risk Funding, English Learners and Students with Disabilities

Statement by members of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity coalition and The Education Trust-Midwest on Michigan School Aid Budget conference committee’s history-making vote for a new state school funding model and FY24 school budget:  

Today, for the first time in Michigan’s history, Michigan joins the nation’s first ten states with state school funding formulas that include an index for concentrations of poverty, among states with similar funding systems. The new “Opportunity Index” will drive much greater state investment in students who qualify for at-risk funding based on a school district’s concentration of poverty, regardless of region.  A conference committee of state legislators voted for the historic change this afternoon. The legislature is expected to vote on final approval by tomorrow.

In the immediate term, the Opportunity Index will drive more than $950 million to the public education of students who qualify for “at-risk” funding in the FY24 state school budget, or more than $200 million above the FY23 state budget. The new state funding mechanism also sets new long-term goals for investing in Michigan’s students who qualify for at-risk funding that, upon full implementation, will invest more than $2.9 billion annually in these students.

The Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity – a diverse statewide coalition of leaders and organizations ranging from civil rights, business, research, parent, direct service and other sectors – had made the Opportunity Index and historic investments in students who qualify for at-risk funding, English Learners and students with disabilities a top priority in their collective efforts over the last three years.

“This year’s school aid budget represents a giant step toward righting past wrongs and ensuring that all Michigan students have access to an excellent public school education,” said Alice Thompson, chair of the education committee for the NAACP Detroit branch and one of three chairs of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity (MPEO) coalition.

“The unprecedented funding for students with the greatest needs, particularly those living in concentrated poverty, will be tremendously important to address the wide and unfair opportunity gaps that exist for students who are most underserved, especially Michigan’s Black and Latino students,” Thompson said. “We congratulate the many policymakers who are committed to ensuring that all Michigan students have the opportunity to soar.”

“This is a moment of both great progress and sober celebration,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest and one of three chairs of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity coalition. “We celebrate the tremendous progress made this year for students from low-income backgrounds, as well as English Learners and students with disabilities. This is the beginning of a real conversation about what fair funding should look like in Michigan.”

“We thank and applaud Sen. Darrin Camilleri, in particular, and the other leaders who championed the needs of Michigan’s students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, English Learners and students with disabilities in this historic legislative session,” Arellano added. “We also applaud Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s investment in students from pre-school through post-secondary in this budget.”

The Opportunity Index and historic investment in students who qualify for at-risk funding are just two of the major developments in this year’s school aid budget. Among the others:

  • State policymakers supported an investment of the greatest level of funding ever for English Learners, or $39.8 million dollars in the FY24 school aid budget — an increase of 50 percent over FY23.
  • Lawmakers voted to support fully funding the foundation allowance for students with disabilities for the first time in Michigan. FY24 will be the first time districts receive 100% of the foundation allowance for students with disabilities in addition to 28.6% of the cost of delivering special education services. Last year, districts only received 75% of the foundation allowance for these students in addition to the required reimbursements.
  • $150 million for MI Kids Back on Track. Policy leaders included high-quality parameters for the tutoring investment to ensure students receive effective, evidence-based, high dosage tutoring – a priority for the MPEO coalition.
  • $543 million to expand the Great Start Readiness Program and provide more early childhood education opportunities. Also included in the budget was an additional $50 million for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship and $10 million in new funding to assist students in filling out their FASFA applications.

The state’s first Opportunity Index will move Michigan away from its longstanding tradition of funding students who qualify for at-risk funding at the same level, regardless of the depth of poverty that a child’s school district faces. The new index — developed based on what leading states and a growing body of research says is needed to close opportunity gaps for students from low-income backgrounds – has six bands of funding levels based on a student’s school district’s concentration of poverty. For more information about the Opportunity Index, go to https://midwest.edtrust.org/p/25118.

The proposed school aid budget must be approved by the full House and Senate and then goes to the governor for her signature.

“Michigan today – and for the first time in recent memory — made an extraordinary investment in the needs of English Learners, who will soon represent a significant portion of population growth in our state,” said Jose Orozco, executive director of Voces, a Battle Creek-based nonprofit organization serving the LatinX community, and a MPEO coalition member. “While more needs to be done to truly create a system that supports their needs, this budget is an acknowledgement that the future success of our English Learners and the health of our state go hand in hand.”

“The Autism Alliance of Michigan supports the House and Senate budget recommendations that recognize students with disabilities as whole children, paving the way for appropriation of 100% of the per pupil foundation allowance to districts in appropriately supporting their learning needs,” said Colleen Allen, president & CEO, Autism Alliance of Michigan. “This gives us an opportunity to address major gaps in our education system by taking this initial step in providing adequate and equitable funding through our school finance system.”

“For Michigan to truly become a top ten state for education with a thriving talent force, it’s critical to address the troubling, persistent gaps in opportunity for students of color, children from low-income backgrounds, English Learners and students with disabilities. This budget marks a great effort to tackle those gaps,” said Mike Jandernoa, a West Michigan business and philanthropic leader who is also one of three chairs of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity coalition. “We commend Michigan policymakers for making a historic investment in the future of millions of Michigan students now and for decades to come – and for their investment in the future health of our state.”

About the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity: The MPEO is a statewide coalition of diverse civil rights, corporate, parent, civic, philanthropic and other organizations. The MPEO’s goal is to close opportunity gaps and accelerate learning, especially for students of color, students living in poverty, English learners, students with disabilities, and those living in rural and geographically isolated communities.

About The Education Trust-MidwestA non-partisan research, advocacy and technical assistance organization, Education Trust-Midwest serves as the backbone organization for the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity. The organization is part of the national Education Trust, one of the nation’s most respected organizations committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in the American education system. Through research and advocacy, Ed Trust improves equity in education from preschool through college, engages diverse communities dedicated to education equity and justice, and increases political and public will to build an education system where students will thrive.

MPEO members in Lansing
By Published On: June 28, 2023Categories: Advocacy, News

Share This Story