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Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio

Fix funding

May 02, 2012 - Michigan's school-funding scheme is unfair. I've heard it again and again, especially over the past few months as folks spoke for and against the proposed $20 million school bond.

Clarkston Community Schools is amongst the lowest funded in Oakland County, a byproduct of Proposal A. Approaching the 20th anniversary of that school-funding reform law, this is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

With two decades under its belt, it should have been dealt with long ago.

School officials lobby state legislators and call on residents to make their views known to their elected representatives. But then they complain they aren't listened to. Those rascally Republicans and all that.

If they haven't already, they should also seek redress in the third branch of government, the courts. Proposal A locked in funding levels at 1994 levels, so if a district got a lot then, they get a lot now. It was supposed to somehow equalize over time, but it hasn't.

Sounds like a decent case to me. Any lawyers out there who can take it on?

Support or not for the Clarkston bond proposal, the technology they have in mind is impressive.

One thing I find odd is the idea to provide each student with an iPad or some other device, even though many of them have one at home. They were the hot Christmas present last year, I'm told.

Planners considered that, and debated a program to allow privately owned tablets in the classroom, supplemented with school-owned devices as needed. That would have saved some money. However, it was rejected in favor of a plan to provide devices to everyone, in part so students without would not feel bad.

If the proposal succeeds or fails, I think they should reconsider. The plan calls for updates every five years. It's safe to assume whatever device they pick will be superceded by newer, faster, better ones before then.

Would teachers prohibit students who have newer devices from bringing them to class?

It's not like kids don't know some people have better stuff than others. They can see cars and what people wear. This could be an opportunity to teach them how to deal with it.

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