Community meeting begins an important conversation

The community meeting tonight at Burns Park, sponsored by AAPFS and the Burns Park PTO, marks an important beginning for the Ann Arbor community. The event brought together parents, teachers and interested citizens, to hear from and ask questions of the leaders of our school system. Of course, there is never enough time to address all the topics on participants’ minds, but some important questions were raised tonight, and honest answers given.

Couldn't have said it better!

I saw this letter to the editor in the Ann Arbor News last Friday (13 April) and was grinning from ear to ear! In three short paragraphs, Ms. Angle, of Ypsilanti, deftly summed up the reason we invest in public education and why it’s worth defending. I wanted to share it with you.

Lawmakers respond: Gov. Jennifer Granholm

Also in response to our original letter about school funding, Gov. Granholm sent this call to action to everyone who supports our efforts (a PDF version of the original letter is attached below).

April 6, 2007

Ann Arbor Parents For Schools
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Dear Ann Arbor Parents for Schools members:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding funding for Ann Arbor Public Schools. I have made it clear that I do not intend to slash school funding in Michigan this year and that I believe we should increase our investment in K-12 schools to keep Michigan competitive.

Lawmakers respond: Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor)

In response to our original letter about school funding, Rep. Rebekah Warren (who represents most of Ann Arbor in the state House) sent the following thoughtful reply (a PDF of her original letter is attached below).

March 27, 2007

Mr. Steven J. Norton
Ann Arbor Parents for Schools
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Dear Mr. Norton,

Thank you for sending along this additional information about the Aim Arbor Parents for Schools group and giving me an opportunity to read your introductory letter. It was a pleasure to meet you the other night at the Town Hall meeting and to hear about this absolutely crucial undertaking.

Schools and the "T" word

Taxes. There, now I’ve said it. It’s a word no one wants to hear, especially now that Michigan’s economy seems to be sliding downhill. (And never in April.)

But wishing won’t make it go away. So here is the question:

Do we really have to pay more taxes to get decent schools? Don’t we pay enough already?

Well, it depends. What do you want your kids’ schools to look like ten years from now? What would you like our state’s economy to look like thirty years from now? That’s really the bottom line. To quote a colleague of mine, “You get what you pay for.”

See the rest of this article on the Michigan Parents for School site:

Smaller Class Sizes?

As I learned about the middle school restructuring, it seemed to me that some of the teaming and other MS features were cut back in order to keep class sizes down. I asked a friend, a middle school teacher in Ann Arbor: “What about smaller class sizes, I thought research indicated that smaller class sizes are better?”

Budget cutting round 1: Middle School restructuring

As part of its efforts to meet the expected deficits over the next two years, the AAPS launched an initiative to restructure the middle school program and curriculum so as to find about $2 million in cost savings. They started with the middle schools because they have the highest cost of operation per student. Cutting funding from programs that do not have a lot of leeway is never a desirable thing, but it is clear that the district will be under a lot of budget pressure for some time to come.

The question is, are the current proposals the best solution under the circumstances?

A Citizen's Guide to School Funding in Michigan

This Guide is aimed at the concerned citizen who wants to understand how school funding works in Michigan. Whether or not you have a lot of background in public policy, you will find useful material here.

You get what you pay for

You get what you pay for.

When we buy something cheap and it breaks the next day, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Did you know.....?

That over $3.7 million will be cut from this year’s AAPS budget automatically unless the Governor and Legislature find new funds? Or that every school district in the state faces these cuts?

That school districts like Ann Arbor are not allowed to raise new funds to run our schools – we can only cut our budget?

That this would be the third time in five years that the state has had to take back money in the middle of the year because revenues for education were less than expected?