Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dear Lansing: Michigan Continues to Burn, Stop Fiddling

That the state economy is suffering is known to all. The inexcusable fact is that Lansing (Governor and Legislature) continues to abdicate the responsibility of making the hard choices. Everyone, including the MEA, must come to the table to COMPLETELY RESTRUCTURE Michigan’s system of government, its process of school funding, its out sized benefit packages, and its broken tax system. Casting stones at everyone else won’t work; the question should be what can I do, not what can I get? School districts are pleading for help with healthcare costs and pension costs – and what do we get from Lansing – NOTHING. These twin costs are driving school districts to the brink of insolvency – don’t believe me? Look at what these costs have done to GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler. As I’ve noted, the teachers pension fund has a $24 BILLION unfunded liability, and the trend not improving.

Schools are looking at an end of year funding cut of $34 to $125 per student. For districts with cash reserves this cut will be paid from those reserves; for districts without cash reserves they will have to cut positions, borrow funds, or selectively shut down services. Schools did not want funding cuts, but since December school boards have been told to expect them. What hurts is that last years “increase” did not cover most districts increase in health care costs and mandated contributions to the pension fund. Here are the facts: according to the Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan School Districts laid off more than 1,900 teachers, administrators, and staff last year. So far this year we have over 1,900 teacher layoff announcements detailed in the chart to the right - click to enlarge.

It’s only April and already a total of only 21 out of over 500 Michigan districts have announced nearly 2,000 teacher cuts. What will it take before school districts get real help and support? Please take time to contact your State Senator and Representative. A link is provided on the blog sidebar. We need leadership and we need it now – if the future of Michigan is in the education of our children, Lansing seems to be ready to throw that future away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Leadership is lacking - see Lee Iacocca's comments regarding the lack of leadership at: