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Posted on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Panelists to discuss K-12 funding challenges Monday evening in Ann Arbor

By Danielle Arndt

Discouraged about K-12 education funding and the challenges facing school districts in Michigan?

A panel discussion in Ann Arbor Monday evening will provide concerned citizens with information on current initiatives being taken at the state level with regards to funding, as well as share the perspectives of teachers, parents and legislators on the struggles of local school districts and their funding problems.


Jeff Irwin

The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church at Green Wood, 1001 Green Road in Ann Arbor.

Michigan Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; Pioneer High School teacher and band director David Leach; and Steven Norton, a local schools advocate and executive director of the Michigan Parents for Schools Organization; will serve as panelists.

Each of the three speakers will be given about 15 minutes to brief attendees on what is happening with K-12 education from their perspectives and then the conversation is expected to turn to "what do we do now?" and "how do we keep current on information moving forward?" organizers said. The group expects to share how people can get involved and take next steps to act upon their feelings about K-12 education funding.

Norton said the event is being put on by the church and that he's eager to speak to the community at large about the state-level and policy issues he typically works on.

One of the reasons he agreed to and wanted to participate in the panel discussion, he said, is because he believes people in the community "even if they don't have children in the (Ann Arbor schools) district, they are reading about what is happening here ... and realizing how it has the potential to dramatically impact our community as a whole. And I think that's a good broader discussion to have too."

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


Alex Brown

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Here is a very interesting report comparing Michigan to Florida. excerpt: "From 1998 to 2011, Florida students' average test scores increased by 9.1 percent in fourth-grade reading," the study reports. "In Michigan, these same scores increased by just 1.3 percent, and the national average increased by just 3.4 percent. In fourth-grade math, Florida students improved their scores by 11.2 percent from 1996 to 2011, while Michigan students improved by only 4.5 percent and the nation by 8.1 percent." Yet, every year from 1990 to 2009 Michigan spent more per pupil than Florida and the Sunshine State served a larger share of low-income students. "Florida's students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, have been making substantial and unmistakable learning gains for more than a decade," said Michael Van Beek, director of education policy at the Center and the author of the study. "Michigan policymakers should take notice. There's a lot to learn from this other peninsular state."

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

A report from the Mackinaw Center? Seriously? No agenda there, right? GN&GL

Alex Brown

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Michigan is among the top ten states in spending on K-12 education already. See report at:

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

"School Revenue per $1000 Personal Income"? Seriously? A made-up statistic from the Mackinaw Center. GN&GL

A Voice of Reason

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:09 a.m.

All I know that these people want my taxes to go up!

A Voice of Reason

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 4:07 a.m.

Didn't we already do this in Ann Arbor with the State Board of Ed?

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

In an unrelated story, Irwin is passing the hat for his reelection campaign.

Mary D.

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

This took place tonight? Too bad the organizers didn't give more advanced notice. I haven't heard of it except for this article, and would have been interested in going.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 1:04 a.m.

Actually, David Leach provides an interesting perspective in the conversations I have had with him. So all you cynical know-it-alls should attend and ACTUALLY find out before you speak from ignorance....oh...too late. Nevermind


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

Bob - Read the other article in AA.COM - it is exactly what was talked about. Dressed as "non-partisan"

Fresh Start

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 10:56 p.m.

Looks like someone needs a binky!


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

Well, we know what is going to be said tonight. Schools need more money - there is nothing left to be cut and nothing anyone can do to reduce the expenses. We need to overturn Proposition A and return funding to the local districts. School employees are under paid and overworked. The current administration is hostile toward public schools.

Maria Huffman

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

To DonBee, Is the current administration hostile to public schools, in your opinion?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

Since all of those things are true, yeah, not a shock that they'd be items of discussion

Dog Guy

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

This story concludes with "Tags: Rebekah Warren", who is nowhere mentioned. Is her name automatically added to politicking stories?

Danielle Arndt

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

Dog guy, thanks for pointing this out. Rebekah Warren originally was supposed to take part in tonight's panel, however, she had another obligation that came up and now Rep. Jeff Irwin will be serving in her place. The tag just didn't get changed to reflect that. I've fixed this.