Our education system has a large variety of ideas and practices. Some parents choose to send their children to public schools, some choose private or charter schools, while some parents choose to home school. This is part two of the ‘Misconceptions’ series, chronicling differences in our education system. If you would like to read part one, click here “Misconceptions of Public Schools.” Misconceptions of homeschooling
Sandra Datema and Telly Ryan are two mothers who chose to home-school their children.
Our education system is changing. With the click of a button, kindergartners can access whatever information they want on the internet. Due to safety becoming a growing priority, signing out your child has seemingly become a ten-step process. Vending machines have been emptied to reduce childhood obesity. Teachers are expected to go back to school to earn their master’s while at the same time taking a pay cut.
By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN
Capital News Service
LANSING — The average salary of public school teachers in the state dropped by $360 in 2013-14 from the previous school year, which already was $84 less than in 2011-12, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Several factors, including declining school enrollment, account for the downward trend in average salaries, according to education experts. School districts having the most financial trouble are also those with the greatest decline in enrollment, said Jennifer Smith, the Michigan Association of School Boards director of government relations. “I bet if you lay them side-by-side, you’re going to find the ones that are having the most trouble are the ones that have the highest loss of students,” Smith said of funding problems. “Because we fund our schools per-pupil, that decline in enrollment is a huge problem for some districts.”
Jennifer Dirmeyer, an assistant professor of economics at Ferris State University, said the decrease in average salaries is also strongly driven by the age and experience of teachers. Dirmeyer said, “It doesn’t appear as though new teachers are making any less than new teachers have made in the past — it’s just that there are more new teachers now, as a percentage of total teachers, than there have been in the past.”
Dirmeyer said that while downward trends may continue, once recently hired teachers’ salaries increase annually with experience, average salaries will also rise.
While constant debates surround the finances and tested measurements that contribute to student success, the teachers and students themselves sat down to talk about what actually goes on inside school walls. Everett High School senior Matthew Mercado said that any education, despite a lack of resources or new technology, is successful because of teachers. Mercado said success is based on student aspiration which, he said, is the result of receiving an equal education in resources and teacher efforts. Mercado said, “I don’t think students value education because of the distribution of the resources. If we’re getting raggedy books and the teacher is not really engaging us, of course I’m going to have an attitude.
In the barrage of budget proposals, school funding bills and teacher retirement benefit reforms, Michigan residents help explain the current state of Michigan education. The Proposed Budget
Although Gov. Rick Snyder proposed a $75 per pupil increase in his budget, Okemos Public Schools director of finance Robert Clark said the fixed cost of foundation allowances does not account for natural cost increases in schools. The foundation allowance, which combines local and state funds and allocates a per pupil amount to each school district, is $8,099 per student in Okemos schools. Clark said that if the enrollment in Okemos schools did not continue to increase, as it currently is, the schools could not remain “above water.”
Clark said that dependance on foundation allowances leads to the inability to offset natural increasing costs like inflation, insurance premiums and contractual teacher pay increases. The Okemos school district was already facing budget cuts that forced it to freeze teachers’ salaries and pensions, search for less experienced—and cheaper—teachers and reduce health care quality and coverage.