Guest editorial: Michigan continues to stick it to the poor

Editor’s Note: David Britten, is the former principal at Pine Street Elementary and now superintendent at Wyoming Godfrey Lee Schools. I am reprinting this commentary to call attention to the fact I am not the only one who believes the State Legislature beats up on the poor and continues hell-bent on privatizing public education for private profit:
by David Britten
We already know tDavid Britten2hat the socio-economic gap between the highest incomes and those living in poverty has grown over the past couple of decades, and the percent of school-age children in Michigan and across the country living in poverty continues to climb. But Michigan lately seems bent on extracting even more pain from low-income families and children:

Students from low-income families now represent a growing majority of the school children attending the nation’s public schools, the Southern Education Foundation has found in its policy research. ~ The Leadership Conference Education Fund, 2015

1. When Governor Rick Snyder took office back in January 2011, the state moved to reduce the Earned Income Credit for low-income families. Ironically, this was a program championed by conservative President Ronald Reagan.

2. When Proposal 1 to repair the state’s roads and infrastructure was presented to the people, it was defeated by a resounding no vote in part due to a portion of the new taxes that would restore the Earned Income Credit for low-income families and repair the recent funding cuts to public schools.

3. A bill to cut much-needed welfare funds for low-income families if a child is truant from school has passed the Michigan Senate, ensuring that the most at-risk kids who are absent in large part due to the many hurdles faced by those growing up in poverty will be even more impoverished as a result.

4. Last week, the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee chair expressed his desire to shut down the Detroit Public School District despite the fact state policies, “white flight” over many decades, and a general decline in school-age population were the primary sources of the district’s problems, not the thousands of low-income kids and families the district has tried to serve.

5. And just this week, the Michigan Department of Education indicated it will cut federal funds (a.k.a., Title I funding intended for schools to support low-income, at-risk students) if parents continue to opt-out their children from the annual high-stakes testing game.

Certainly looks like the state is spot-on when it comes to reforming public education and addressing the impact poverty has on learning. Just keep sticking it to the poor until things shape up.

What’s the old saying? “The beatings will continue until morale improves?”

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