If you happen to be on Governor Snyder’s email list you know he has been talking up his education policy recently. The most recent promotional item being offered up by the governor’s office is the claim that state education spending has increased each year of his term.
While it is true that “state” spending has increased each year total spending on education has not. To make his numbers work the governor co-opts funding that was previously supplied at the local level and now includes it in the state numbers.
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan did thorough research on the topic and found that actual per pupil revenue for traditional K-12 education has fallen by 13.1% since 2004. Similarly the Michigan Senate report on per pupil spending shows that current spending is below the pre-Rick Snyder era levels. Additionally for the 2003-2004 school year Michigan’s per pupil spending was 7.8% more than the US average while the 2009-2010 level is 2.9% below the US average.
Of course Rick Snyder is a politician and we all expect politicians to spin data to suit their needs. But who is Rick Snyder trying to impress here? Liberals and educators have followed the cuts to education spending far too closely to be deceived by political number manipulation. And Republicans and corporatist already think education spending is too high to laud what they see as yet more education spending.
But even if this is just deft political maneuvering by the governor, being lectured from a politician on improving education is an ironic situation. When discussing Michigan’s education system Rick Snyder said “Our whole system in the United States is pretty broken”.
Well perhaps the governor would be interested in knowing that according to polls 79% of parents give the school their child attends and “A or B” rating while only 40% of Michigan residents approve of the job the governor is doing. It should also be noted that according to a CNN poll, 86% of Americans say our system of government is broken.
The reality is that the meme that our education system is broken is politically motivated myth. So rather than spreading more hyperbole in an attempt to corporatize our children perhaps politicians should spend some time getting their own house in order instead of saddling hard working teachers with more uninformed bureaucracy.