Not that facts seem to matter these days, but a new study from MSU’s Education Policy Center, Which Districts Get Into Financial Trouble and Why: Michigan’s Story, determined that school districts in Michigan get into financial trouble because of factors they can’t control. It found that neither privatization nor school spending on retirement had any effect on a school district’s fiscal health:
Whatever the merits of these strategies as emergency measures for [a] district in fiscal distress, our results fail to indicate that they are systematically related to districts’ fiscal health as measured by their fund balances.
What actually matters is race. Districts with mostly black students are in trouble financially, because:
Districts with high concentrations of African American students are much more likely to be subject to intense charter school penetration, to lose students to inter-district choice, and to have higher concentrations of students with disabilities.
This explains the Devos-fueled directive to exempt Detroit charter schools from oversight. Ever-more charters will completely cripple DPS finances, followed by the inevitable solution: a New Orleans-style district-wide conversion to charter schools. All operated by the charter industry.
Expect outrage about this study by the Mackinac Center, even though the authors source the Center’s School Privatization Primer, its most recent Michigan School Privatization Survey, as well as its Employee Salaries and Benefits. A Collective Bargaining Primer for Michigan School Board Members.
One of the study authors was quoted in a recent issue of the legislative newsletter Gongwer:
Michigan has focused on policies to mostly reprimand school districts in trouble with their fund balances, assuming the problem is attributed to poor decision-making by local leaders,” David Arsen, professor of education policy and one of the authors of the study, said. “In terms of local spending, some decisions matter but overall the impact is small. What does matter are changes in the school district’s per-pupil foundation allowance and their enrollment, especially where school choice and charters are most prevalent.
The study also finds that no matter what the Mackinac Center says, school funding is down:
Over a span of 11 years, Michigan’s central city districts on average lost a third of their enrollment, producing an average decline of 21.6 percent in total foundation revenue, or a striking 46.5 percent revenue decline in real terms. Suburban districts … also lost funds in real terms, but not as drastically because many also saw some enrollment increases during the period.
This, or course, is the lasting effect of the $1 billion cut in public education Gov. Snyder and the legislature imposed in 2010, which helped to fund a $2 billion reduction in corporate taxes.
On second thought, facts do matter to this Republican legislature. They know full well that charter schools and school choice starves public schools. That’s the whole idea. Programmed failure with a corporate solution at the ready.