Balancing Budgets With Poor School Districts In Mind

We all want a balanced checkbook. We all want to know that we have the right amount of funds to make sure we have just the right amount of money to take care of all our bills without bouncing that checkbook.

We know the importance of making sure we have enough money for not just the necessities but rainy day funds and retirement saving. When our books are not balanced it’s so easy to overdraft and find yourself in a deficit. Those deficiencies can cost you more than just the $35 overdraft fees but repossession and foreclosures.

If balancing daily living budgets is so important, why has it taken so long for the Michigan Department of Education to decide it’s important to balance its budget? It’s simple math. It’s all about making sure needs are met and school districts that need more should have more whether they are charter or traditional public school. Why has it taken 24 years for MDEC to see the impact that not balancing its budget has on children?

In Detroit there are only 14 percent of children who read on grade level by the time they reach eight years of age. Sixty percent of children in the city live in poverty. This should always be a determining factor in how schools that service our children are funded.

When families in cities with higher academic outcomes also have higher income levels , that’s because those children are at a greater advantage than ours. I know this will get me in trouble but it’s just not fair. It’s not fair for one child, who comes from a more affluent household, to have more access to quality than the kids whose parents work sunup to sundown to make ends meet.

It’s not fair that the same parent is not given quality support when it comes to their child’s academics. Not fair that if both of them are special needs, that their districts don’t have the added support and services for both child and parent that will assure that the child won’t fall behind his peers.

For example, Detroit student Cody who has special needs was sent home last year for half-days because his charter school did not have supports in place to service him properly. As an effort to not constantly suspend him, the school convinced his mother to send him home half-days while his twin brother stayed in school.

No parent should have to send their children to other districts in hopes for greener pastures.

This year Tesha Jordan decided to take the boys out of the school and move them to a Detroit Public School Community District at Davison Elementary. Despite their IEPs being given to the school upon enrolling her sons, both have been suspended several times. Tesha is afraid for her sons and doesn’t want them to fall behind, as any mother would. She has decided to find a district that will bus her children out of the city.

Why are the supports not there for these children?

Why is it that inner-city children are moved from school to school because funds allocated can’t support children’s IEP needs and budget crunches mean cutting resources? This should never happen. No parent should have to send their children to other districts in hopes for greener pastures.

Funding and appropriate resources need to be wherever the child is. We have failed children long enough. Let’s make this right and let’s agree to disagree on who’s right and wrong and just make it right for all children.

Their future depends on it. Closing achievement, access, and poverty gaps depend on us getting it right.


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