Comments on: Column: Disparate Impact of AAPS Cuts? it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Wed, 12 Jun 2013 22:49:54 +0000 It’s worth noting that today the ACLU of Michigan sent a letter to the Ann Arbor school board and the Superintendent, Patricia Green, saying that charging for seventh hour would be illegal under state law, based on an Ann Arbor court case from the 1970s, when the school board tried to charge for books.

Read more, including the full letter, here: [link]

By: A2person A2person Tue, 11 Jun 2013 15:02:52 +0000 John Floyd, YES! Exactly. If I’m not mistaken, you are a Republican voice in our town, are you not? I feel that my Democrat voice and opinion continually falls on deaf ears in Lansing (other than my own reps, but then I’m preaching to the choir). Trying to contact the Education Committee Chair and members, or Snyder, etc is beyond futile. I receive form e-replies from staffers that make it clear nobody actually read my concerns.

Any chance your voice would be heard in Lansing?

I am beyond frustrated by the mis-use of the School Aid Fund. I supported Prop A with the understanding that that fund would be used only for K-12 education. And I feel that Snyder and his people have used ingenious loopholes to steal it. Then they stand there with their fingers wagging, blaming the schools. Add to all this the un-capped, relentless opening of for-profit charters to “compete” and further suck funding away from our public schools (even with no accountability or regulation). UGH.

I’m beginning to feel that the only hope we have is to somehow make it through this year and next fiscal year (ACK another year of this!) and then do EVERYTHING we can to replace those in Lansing who have been so hostile to our schools.

By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:38:39 +0000 The school board is expected to vote on the budget (and the interim superintendent, I believe) this Wednesday, June 12th. School board meetings are held on the fourth floor of the main branch of the Ann Arbor library.

You can read information about the agenda and the materials for the board meeting here: [link]

Interestingly, when I went to Board Docs today I found this note:

There are currently 27 people signed up for public commentary tomorrow night, allowing for approximately 1-1/2 minutes for each person to speak. The amount of time per person will continue to decrease as additional people are added to the list. The Board encourages all those interested to address the Board, but it is sometimes more effective to coordinate messages on the same topic. For instance, we have a number of people signed up for the following topics: against the elimination of tuition preschool, .5 PE, Reading Intervention, Theater Guild, 7th Hour and Community High School.

Please allow this information to serve as a guide when considering signing up for public commentary. Contact Amy Osinski at 994-2232 or, with any questions.

So if you want to speak, sign up now…

By: John Floyd John Floyd Tue, 11 Jun 2013 04:16:36 +0000 I echo the comments that school funding is a Lansing-based problem that has been sent to local districts for resolution. The result of the governor’s choices, combined with the unsustainable post-retirement costs public schools carry, is that we are eating our seed corn. The “21st century jobs” t that Michigan kids will be prepared for are likely to involve Supersizing, or the phrase, “Welcome to Walmart”.

As to what cuts to make in the meantime, as suggested above, it probably is time to further centralize school administration in the county, and to fund only one superintendent, legal department, payroll/accounting, curriculum development dept., HR department, etc. Some functions have been centralized at WISD, it may make sense to move more of them there. It may be time to close a building or two in Ann Arbor, and elsewhere.

The issue is not that the school funding mechanism is broken per se: it’s that Mr. Snyder took a billion ($1,000,000,000) away from the School Aid Fund to pay for universities, so that the General Fund, where university funding cames from, could afford tax decreases for small businesses. Unaffordable pensions do not help, but the issue is mainly about mis-use of the School Aid Fund.

It also may be time for the state to finally shut down other diversions from the School Aid Fund, such as the Local Development Finance Authorities (LDFA) that use School Aid funds to pay for Ann Arbor Spark and similar agencies around the state. There is no connection at all between Spark and education – at least the universities are also educational institutions. Lansing simply sees the School Aid Fund as a giant slush fund to be raided for unrelated purposes.

Remember why Michigan moved to the current school funding mechanism in the first place? Ending state funding as the primary source of education funding in Michigan by returning to school funding to mostly local taxes, works out well for Ann Arbor, but would effectively end universal education in this state. Low tax base areas would more-or-less be out of business. A third-world education system (good schools for the haves, wretched schools for everyone else) will not improve our state.

As for this year, all cuts to any public institution always hurt the poor disproportionately. That’s the nature of public services: folks with more money can always buy “public” services on their own. The 50-student math (above) makes sense, but as long as the state uses localities to resolve the problems raised by mis-use of the school aid fund, using Disproportionate Impact as the rule for where to make cuts, simply means that no cuts can be made.

By: fridgeman fridgeman Tue, 11 Jun 2013 01:34:20 +0000 I’ll add my praise to the Chronicle for restoring AAPS coverage. And, in general, this is a well-reasoned article.

However, I really take issue with Ruth’s view that the achievement gap is a race issue; namely a white student – African American / Latino gap.

Almost all of the “white” students I know are dramatically out-achieved by students of Indian or Asian descent.

Personally, I think is really unhelpful to cast the achievement gap in terms of one race vs another. Yes, there is a dramatic gap between the highest-performing students and the lowest performing students in this district. Yes, it should be addressed (though not at the expense of the high performers).

Those who insist on painting the gap as a racial issue, however, should stop incorrectly portraying it as a black student / white student issue.

If I were an African-American parent, I would be highly offended that others were establishing a mediocre race-based benchmark for my children, rather than a benchmark based on the truly top performers.

By: Joan Chesler Joan Chesler Tue, 11 Jun 2013 01:15:02 +0000 Congratulations, Ruth, on an excellent article–well researched, instructive and incisive. Congratulations also on joining the Chronicle staff.

By: Kevin Riley Kevin Riley Mon, 10 Jun 2013 19:09:40 +0000 The big elephant in the room is developing a county wide school system. Having each small district with their own highly paid administrations replicating the same duties and tasks is a waste. There are many districts nationwide that have the same variety of students and are directed by one school administration effectively.

By: Julie Steiner Julie Steiner Mon, 10 Jun 2013 18:42:04 +0000 We are so lucky to have Ruth Kraut doing this column. Thanks to the Chronicle for bringing her aboard.

By: Eric J Eric J Sun, 09 Jun 2013 12:15:57 +0000 Government organizations exist to provide services to the citizenry, not to provide middle class jobs, feed huge dufferdom payrolls, support swarms of pension parasites and medical milkers.

By: A2person A2person Sat, 08 Jun 2013 16:58:45 +0000 Eric, I totally agree. Because who needs a middle class, anyway, right?

Ruth, thank you for this article, so well done! I do hear what Christine is saying….. I’m not sure what cuts could be made, at this point, that would NOT disproportionately affect low income kids. I continue to feel Balas could be more pared down, and the high schools have too many administrators. That should be addressed. But I also acknowledge that it won’t solve the basic problem which is disinvestment from Lansing. I also think we need to address the unsustainable pension system. I don’t know how to do this, but if I remember correctly, it needs to be done at the state level. I watched a slide presentation on school funding by the AAPS a couple years ago and was astounded by how totally un-sustainable the pension system is, and without fixing, this will get worse every year.