Lawmakers, Parents, Students and Educators Call on State to Increase K-12 Investments
LANSING, Mich. – It is Count Day today, and parents, students and community members from all across Michigan hosted a ‘Billion Dollar Bake Sale’ at the Michigan State Capitol West Steps. This event was the culmination of over 25 symbolic bake sales held across the state since August to raise awareness of the state education funding gap.
Michigan schools have been systemically underfunded for decades. Despite recent historic investments in education, our schools still have a $4.5 billion education funding gap. All of Michigan’s students deserve classrooms where they can thrive– engaging lessons in small classes, nurses and counselors who care for our kids, and safe schools where every child belongs.
Kermit Williams of Oakland Forward in Pontiac stated: “Today we’re sending a message to Governor Whitmer, Rep Tate and Sen Brinks that it’s time to raise $4.5 BILLION in funding so that every student in the state receives a world-class education, no exceptions. That money is in this state and our legislators need to have the courage to tax wealthy Michiganders, tax corporations and close corporate tax loopholes now. We need to tax the rich.”
State Representative Joey Andrews urged his fellow legislators to ensure debt relief for Benton Harbor, Ypsilanti, Pontiac, Muskegon Heights and Inkster school districts in the budget supplemental. “During this term, significant progress has been made with the passage of a robust school aid budget. However, the burden of school debt still looms large. On Count Day, as we gather to renew our commitment to Michigan's students, it's time to prioritize debt forgiveness for districts like Benton Harbor, which continue to bear the weight of financial challenges. The historic budget represents an investment in Michigan's future, yet more work is needed to unburden our schools and ensure the success of our students.”
State School Board President Dr. Pamela Pugh shared that “When we come together across race and place, we can demand the resources we need to pay teachers fairly, equip classrooms with enough pencils to last the year, and buildings that keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer.”
“I am here on count day because I COUNT! I’m here in Lansing to make sure my voice is heard,” said Christina Yarn, a high school student from Saginaw Township. “We have the money to make our schools better for everyone including us students – so that we not only have our basic needs met, but the tools, programs, and resources we need to learn and thrive. The quality of our education shouldn’t depend on where we live, how much money is in our wallets, or the color of our skin.”
Oxford Public Schools parent Cara Erskine, also a veteran and therapist, spoke directly on the importance of school funding on mental health. “Increased school funding is not just about improving facilities; it's about investing in the well-being of our children and preparing them for obstacles beyond their education. Violence doesn’t just impact school communities like Oxford, but also is felt by so many of our youth across the state. All of our children deserve to not only feel safe, but to thrive in school.”
Benton Harbor School Board Trustee Elnora Gavin added: “Our schools in Benton Harbor, Ypsilanti and other communities across Michigan have continued to carry the weight of debt caused by long term funding issues for our schools. Therefore we need Governor Whitmer, Rep. Tate and Sen. Brinks to ensure that there will be funds allocated in the supplemental budget this year for debt relief for Benton Harbor schools.”
A delegation of community leaders, parents, and students then delivered 2000 petition signatures from residents across the state to Governor Whitmer, Leader Tate and Leader Brinks asking them to raise $4.5 billion in new revenue by enacting these measures for public schools in Michigan.