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Posted on Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

Ann Arbor education advocates take on Snyder's spending policy

By Danielle Arndt

Two Ann Arbor education advocates entered the ring against Gov. Rick Snyder in the most recent edition of Bridge Magazine.

In an opinion piece, Ann Arbor Board of Education Trustee Glenn Nelson and outgoing teachers union president Brit Satchwell accused Snyder and his Republican colleagues of retreating from public education and “rushing” Michigan children to the bottom of the education “heap.”


Glenn Nelson, left, and Brit Satchwell

They wrote Snyder’s policies strike “a new low in the priority given to K-12 education,” calling the consequences “devastating” for Michigan children.

Nelson and Satchwell said 10 years ago, 3.67 percent of the state's personal income was allocated to K-12 education. Snyder’s proposed budgets for 2013 and 2014 would dedicate an average of 2.82 percent, a decrease of 0.85 percent, equal to about $3 billion, they wrote.

In their Bridge Magazine column, Nelson and Satchwell said if Snyder had given the same priority to K-12 education as legislators did 10 years ago, it would have equated to an increase of nearly $1,944 per student.

Additionally, the column states that 10 years ago, Michigan fourth-graders scored better than those in 23 and 24 other states in reading and math, respectively; where now, Michigan students are better than just 15 and nine other states.

Nelson and Satchwell said voters must look for policymakers who will “support education, ensure a bright future for our children and give our state the competitive work force we need to attract the jobs of the future.”

According to the Center for Michigan, in 2000, the state was ranked 10th in the nation for education spending. By 2009, Michigan had fallen 14 positions and was ranked 24th for spending on education.

The Center for Michigan also reports in fiscal year 2011, the state spent 41 percent, the largest portion of its general fund revenue ($11.034 billion), on K-12 education. Universities and community colleges received 6 percent ($1.549 billion) of available state tax dollars.

Snyder said, in a column opposite Nelson and Satchwell’s, that in general fund revenue and state aid dollars combined, Michigan budgeted for 62 percent of its available funds to be allocated for education.

He said after a year of “laying the groundwork” to restore “fiscal discipline” to Michigan, the state is now ready to make the “tough but necessary decision to ‘rebase’ the foundation allowance in the current-year budget.”

“This move was critical in getting the budget back in structural balance,” Snyder wrote. “Working together, we’re restoring stability to Michigan’s education system so that our children and theirs have boundless opportunities and are equipped to thrive in the global economy.

Read the complete Bridge Magazine report here.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

Capitalism works GREAT for Mitt Romney how well does that trickle down to you,oh that's right you aspire to be him some day,good luck!


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 11:51 a.m.

These two are the Al & Jessie of the teachers unions. It is time for public employees to feel the pain that private employees are feeling. The private employees pay the wages of the public employees and feel that justice needs to prevail.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

sounds like pension and benefit envy too me. public employees should earn more then retail wages,some of these jobs are harder then you will ever know.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

Very well said.......I agree


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 6:05 a.m.

Given the huge amounts spent and the track record of public education and the MEA, I don't think the union spox have a collective leg to stand on. I have a union job myself in the private sector, and when my company went bankrupt years ago, I lost HALF of my pay and benefits and my pension was frozen. I am still not making the wage that I did a decade ago. Like most taxpayers, I am not terribly sympathetic to the bleatings of government unions that have not even begun to share the pain -- especially when their collective job performance is so poor.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:03 a.m.

And how much do those "other" states spend on education? Would that additional $1944.00 have gone to the students or the employees for salaries and benefits? These people ask for more money and more money to make it better but then critisize charter schools which receive far less money. Education costs have increased significantly but student performance and graduation stats have not, so my take is the money makes no difference. Employee salaries and benefits have increased significantly. every teacher seems to have a masters degree, so what's the problem? Educate me and quit asking for more money that doesn't seem to benefit anyone but the employees and the unions. snyder's trying to identify and fix a problem the unions want nothing but more money and Democrats want union votes. Education is nothing but "business" for these unions but they don't want it to conform to good business practices.

Basic Bob

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

Many liberals believe that corporations should pay more tax. So for them to look at personal income is not a fair measurement. Maybe GDP would be a better indicator, as it includes both the earnings of individuals and the profits of business. Between 2000 and 2009, per capita GDP of the state FELL almost 10%. Unlike Wall Street, Michigan businesses took the hit and continued to pay employees, at least most of them. That resulted in less profits made, and less taxes paid. Both private employers and private employees sucked it up - and not willingly. Government employees from university presidents to teachers may expect to be insulated from downturns in the economy, but that is a fantasy.

Basic Bob

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 3:46 a.m.

Between 2000 and 2009, rank in education spending fell 14 places. Blame Snyder. And rather than spend the "education money" prudently, Nelson and Satchwell participated in laying off less experienced teachers while administrators got six-figure increases and senior teachers and union henchmen were protected. Blame Snyder.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Hi Bob, Just a fact check. Please explain your claim that "administrators got six-figure increases". Not saying there were no increases, or that I even agree with the increases that occurred. But your claim is an exaggeration. Unless you are bundling all of the increases together...

Real Life

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

I'm impatient with Governor Snyder on a lot of things. We are not moving forward on right-to-work. we are not busting the union monopoly that has held the State back for decades. Our structural "reforms" are timid at best. And these guys are complaining about the pass they've been given. I expect them to send a thank you card to the Governor and each taxpayer in Michigan. Better yet, just try to lay low and be thankful for the unwarranted support they've gotten thus far. So far, Snyder is the best thing to happen to the MEA given the mood of the electorate.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

What a shame that so much education money goes to the teachers and administrators not the children.

The Black Stallion3

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

You are absolutely right ...snapshot....these expenses for teachers and administrators must be lowered.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

If giving money toward an another teacher's salary will help reduce my daughter's first grade class size from 29, then it IS going toward the children. Added money toward instruction doesn't always mean increasing salaries. In fact, teachers in many districts have taken huge salary and benefits cuts, while many more have been laid off. Money in instructional budgets will be used first to replace these cut positions to reduce class sizes from the ridiculous levels they have reached.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 5:09 a.m.

It's an accounting fact....85% of revenue goes to employee salaries and benefits with 56 Billion dollars in unfunded pensioin obligations. You SFK are the individual who is uninformed.


Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

That is a very uninformed opinion.

Dog Guy

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

Thanks to Nelson and Satchwell for advocating increased funding for the sinecures of us teachers. I certainly don't object to 3% to 5% of my gross income going to pay me and others in the Michigan school biz. Why should anyone else object to 3% to 5% of their gross income going to me? Nobody wants Michigan children suffering at the bottom of a heap.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

sh1 - How about the money removed from my paycheck by the collapse of the economy? How do you replace that? Or the jobs lost or....? This is not a simple problem to solve.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Such cynicism. The article is actually about the money that has been removed from public education over time and how that affects students, teachers, etc. How do you propose to replace it?


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

the poor and middle class make too much,please Mr.Snyder take more from them and give to the rich & or charter school owners.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.


Susie Q

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

Last year the School Aid Fund had a surplus. The cuts that K-12 education received for the 2011-12 school year were not needed, or did not have to be as bad as they were. Gov Snyder and his Republican legislators CHOSE to use the K-12 surplus for higher ed funding for the FIRST TIME EVER! I suspect it will not be the last time they use this stunt to further erode education in Michigan.

Irwin Fletcher

Sat, Apr 7, 2012 : 12:17 a.m.

You make no sense Susie Q. You say they move K-12 EDUCATION funding to Higher EDUCATION funding. How is moving funds from one education funding to another education funding eroding EDUCATION funding?

John of Saline

Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

They give the percentages as part of the state's "personal income," instead of something logical, like the state government budget. Does "state's personal income" mean all of the earned income of every person in the state? If so, I'm guessing they used that to get the percentage allocated to education as low as possible to make their point. But (again if I'm correct), their overall unintentional point is to imply that all the personal income in the state is somehow the state's, to decide how much we should be allowed to keep and spend as we see fit. If they are in favor of raising taxes, why don't they just say so? Also, I'd call Mr. Satchwell a union advocate, not an education advocate. They aren't the same thing.


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

A democrat and a union offical you expect any less....duh....


Fri, Apr 6, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

What's YOUR solution?