If you happen to be on Governor Snyder’s email list you know he has been talking up his education policy recently. His most recent promotional item 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 percent 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 percent more than the US average while the 2009-2010 level is 2.9 percent below the U.S. average.
Rick Snyder is a politician and we all expect politicians to spin data to suit their needs. But who is 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 corporatists 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 ironic. When discussing Michigan’s education system Snyder said that “Our whole system in the United States is pretty broken.”