Improvement to Public Schools in Michigan

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Hunter Principe and Jonathan Green Podcast: Improvements to Public Schools across Michigan

2. Persona and POV statement

Persona:  

  • Persona name: Howard Daniels

  • Age: 15

  • School/occupation: Suttons Bay High School Student Location: Suttons Bay, MI   

  • Quote: "I want to hang out with my friends and do well enough in school to play division one baseball "   

  • About:

    • Smart, but is not very motivated

    • Plays baseball and football

    • Drinks alcohol at parties almost every weekend

    • Rides the bus to and from school every day

    • Has a girlfriend

Goals:

  • Wants to be a professional baseball player in the MLB

  • Obtain a driver's license

  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA to play a sport in college

  • Wants to make a lot of money when hes older

POV Statement:

  • User: Howard, an athletic high school student who likes to party...

  • Need: ....needs support from friends, family, and faculty members to help him maintain his grades...

  • Insight: ...because he has goals of attending college and playing division I baseball.

3. Potential Solutions:

SOLUTION 1: It is very crucial to increase funding for public schools in Michigan to solve the many educational problems the state currently has. Currently, Michigan allocates funding to schools based on the number of students enrolled in each district. With the poor quality of education in public schools, many students-with families who can afford it- are leaving public schools to attend private schools. When this occurs, the funding offered to that public school decreases. It is possible to increase the funding per student at schools in Michigan by keeping the amount of money allocated per school district the same when a student transfers from a public to a private school. 

SOLUTION 2: To increase the quality of education across Michigan, public schools can alter the hiring process for faculty members, including teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators. Public schools should hire faculty they deem more qualified to better the education of its students. Some teachers today are barely qualified and untrained, which hinders learning in the classroom. Teachers should be checked on regularly by upper-officials in schools to ensure that they are effectively doing their jobs. Furthermore, public schools in Michigan should hire more faculty to solve the problem of extremely high student to teacher ratios. This increase in faculty will help students create better relationships with their students and allow them connect in ways that are not only related to academics.

SOLUTION 3: Many students in Michigan public schools dread waking up every morning and having to sit in class everyday. If schools add more clubs and extracurricular activities, students will have something to look forward to every day. These after school events could be academic related, or even recreational activities where kids bond with their classmates and have fun at school. By creating a more exciting environment in school, students will look forward to going to school and want to learn. Schools should attempt to have volunteers host these events before hiring more faculty. Studies have shown that students who take part in extracurricular activities tend to do better academically. Many teachers are passionate about their jobs and may volunteer to help create a better academic environment for their students and themselves. 

SOLUTION 4: Public schools should organize fundraising events in order to rally community support for schools, while also raising funds that can be utilized to buy more school resources. These events will help schools gain a community identity, and local residents will donate money that can be allocated towards supplies, like new textbooks or educational technology that will increase the overall quality of education in public schools. Some areas in Michigan are not very wealthy. These communities should attempt to raise funds by using social media. This will allow these poorer communities to target areas other than their own, where people are wealthier and can afford to donate their money to a good cause.

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(m2uuhpgafua1eziwkamvkoy0))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=2017-SJR-A&query=on

This bill discusses a Senate Joint Resolution regarding permissible uses of funding for school aid and how funds are allocated for education systems.

 

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan because students will see improved quality of the education they are receiving at school through increased funding to their schools. With an increase in funds available to schools, more money can be spent on school resources, faculty, and extracurricular activities.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We learned about the issues underlying our proposal by talking to friends who have grown up in Michigan and have attended public schools in the state of Michigan. These people highlighted some of the issues that were going on in public schools and discussed how they personally are lucky to attend an established institution like the University of Michigan. However, other students in public school systems in Michigan are not as fortunate and were unable to learn enough in high school to attend an established university.

 

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

The service activity that we are working with, Books for a Benefit, helps us gain real exposure to some of the issues that occur in public schools across Michigan. Volunteers individually tutor students in reading and literacy, as well as visiting elementary schools to participate in book drives and other charitable events.

 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Hunter Principe and Jonathan Green Podcast: Improvements to Public Schools across Michigan

 

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:

Jojo spoke to a student who graduated from John J. Pershing High School in Detroit. This student (who did not want to release his name due to how strongly he felt about his old high school) described his experiences in high school as a “failure.” This student now attends Wayne County Community College and feels very unprepared in his/her classes. This student said that the textbooks he/she used in class were very outdated and the sizes of their classrooms were too large to receive the attention necessary in class. He/she also felt that the teachers in high school did not care about their students. This student said, “Teachers would give busy work all day and did not make an effort to truly teach us the material. They did not want to be in class just like most students did not want to be there either.” This student felt that teachers had no control of the classrooms, “some of my classmates would distract others and cuss at teachers, and these students would not get in any trouble.” This student heard that this occurred because the funding for Michigan schools is based on enrollment, and if students were expelled this would decrease the money they received from the government.

CONSULTATION 2:

We reached out to a faculty member over at Pioneer High School who agreed to sit down and talk to us. This faculty member also asked that his identity remained anonymous. He began by telling us how he feels bad that he simply does not have enough time to pay specific attention to the progress of individual students, and that he can’t afford to offer extra help due to conflicts with his life outside of the classroom. This teacher went on to tell us that he could offer more extra help after hours, but he thinks that the school system unfairly pays him to teach so he needs to spend his spare time working a side job a couple of days per week. This faculty member also agreed with the fact that increasing funding for public schools is necessary, but raising state taxes is not the solution to the problem.

CONSULTATION 3:

Hunter spoke to a father whose child attends Pioneer High School in the Ann Arbor community. The parent expressed displeasure with the school system because of the large disparity regarding the quality of education comparative to the private schools within the region. His son has many friends who attend private school, and have been surrounded with the necessary resources to succeed, such as adequate textbooks, trained teachers, and higher quality meals. On the other hand, due to financial issues, the child, whose parent we spoke to, has not only been put in an improper learning community, but is also surrounded by a social community that does not prioritize education as much as it should. Rather, many kids within the system have been involved in social problems that get in the way of the main priority, which is school. Lastly, he expressed that he felt trapped in a system where he could do nothing to better his son’s situation, and ultimately felt as though he was letting him down.

 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

At our service proposal meeting, Michael and Jeff gave us helpful advice on how to narrow down our POV statement. We felt that our POV statement was not specific enough, and it needed improvement. We changed our statement to make our character relate more to our issue. We put ourselves in his shoes and thought about his goals and struggles on an an everyday basis. By doing this, we were also to think of better solutions to the issue of improving the public schools in Michigan. It is imperative to think about the people our solutions would help in order to create them.

Furthermore, Austin Gould commented on our proposal and advised that we find more ways to increase the funding for schools in Michigan. We came up with Solution 1 to address this issue. With this solution, schools will see an increase in per pupil funding which will allow school districts to cover the expenses of the other solutions we proposed. 

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

As we analyzed the issue with public schools in Michigan, we found that a main problem was an overcrowding in schools. The teacher to student ratio at many elementary schools is ridiculous. There are way too many students compared to teachers, and because of this students are not able to interact with their teachers and connect with them on levels other than education. Originally, we felt that the main solution to improving the public schools in Michigan would be increasing taxes in order to fund more resources for students. This would involve allocating tax payer money to textbooks, educational technology, and other resources. After meeting with our professors, we realized that implementing this policy would be very difficult and not very effective. The government is not very easy to work with and creating a law that would increase taxes for schools is not very feasible. Even if this were to occur, it would not be certain that the funds would be used correctly. Who knows what percentage of the taxes collected would actually be used to help schools. Additionally, the changes made to schools with this money may not be the right ones. With this in mind, we have the solution of keeping the funding allocated to public schools the same when a student transfers from public to private school. Currently, funding to public schools in Michigan is based on enrollment, so when a student leaves a public school, funding for that school decreases. If funding allocated to public schools stays the same when this occurs, the per pupil funds in public school will increase. This solution is possible because families with students in private school still pay taxes. We also have the solution of asking public schools to organize fundraising events in order to rally community support for schools while also raising funds that can be utilized to buy more school resources. These events will help schools gain a community identity, and local residents will donate money that can be allocated towards supplies. This solution is more specific to the people that actually need the support. Faculty at local schools would be in charge of helping raise the money and use it for the problems they deem necessary. In addition, our research showed that several teachers in Michigan public schools were not certified or trained. These schools should adjust their hiring process to ensure that the most qualified and caring teachers are chosen. Moreover, we found that many schools in Michigan have extremely high student to teacher ratios. Public schools need to hire more faculty to solve this problem. Lastly, we researched studies that showed that students who were involved in extracurricular activities, tend to earn higher grades. By offering more extracurricular activities, students will feel more comfortable in school and have a more organized work schedule.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

While the two of us both made about equal contributions to the process and our finished proposal, the two of us did a great job in dividing up work in order to work as efficiently as possible. For our consultations, we sat down with a faculty member from Pioneer High School who provided us with explanations about why he does not enjoy being a teacher in the Michigan public school systems and what he would change if he could. Hunter also spoke to a parent in the Ann Arbor community who outlined some of the hardships of attending not just Pioneer High School, but public schools across Michigan and furthermore, how he was upset about how they could not afford to gift their kid with private education. Jojo sat down with a student who graduated from John J. Pershing High School in Detroit in the winter of 2018. This student now attends Wayne County Community College and considers his academic experience as a “failure.” Jojo's research consisted of searching for feasible methods to raise funding for public schools in Michigan; funds that could be used for school resources and faculty. Hunter’s research consisted of interpreting and analyzing some pieces of legislation in the Michigan state government that address the Michigan public schooling systems, state taxes, and government funding. Lastly, we both answered different questions on the proposal. We then went back and switched, giving us the opportunity to combine our ideas and correct our work. 

FORMAL PROPOSAL

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS....It has been found that at least 40 percent of high school students in public schools in Michigan leave or graduate unable to complete basic math, write with acceptable handwriting, or spell properly. 

WHEREAS....Michigan schools ranked last out of all states in improvements to math and reading from 2003 to 2015. In every other state, schools improved in these subjects, while Michigan schools declined every year.

WHEREAS....Michigan schools suffer from unsafe conditions: leaking roofs, black mold, contaminated drinking water, and overcrowded classrooms. These dreadful surroundings often cause classes to be dismissed early or cancelled.  

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. Students in Michigan's public schools are unable to learn because they are not provided with proper resources. Schools must collect more money per pupil by keeping the amount of tax money allocated to a school the same when a student transfers from a public to private school and through fundraising.

2. Michigan public schools must implement a more extensive hiring process for teachers. It is critical that the teachers at public schools in Michigan are properly trained and certified. Teachers should have clear lesson plans and be montiored regularly to ensure they have classroom control and that their students are mastering basic math and reading skills.

3. Officials at public schools in Michigan must thoroughly check classrooms and facilities everyday to make sure they are funtioning. More faculty should be hired with schools that have classrooms with over 40 students in them to ensure that everyone is receiving the attention and support they need to learn. 

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. It is very difficult to fundraise enough money that will actually make visible improvements to schools. 

2. Teachers can put maximum effort into their interviews when they apply for their job, and begin to slack off once they are hired. 

3. Officials may notice problems with the physical conditions in Michigan public schools that they can not afford to fix. Additionally, schools may not be able to afford the salaries of an amount of teachers that would reduce classroom sizes to under 40 students.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

There are some costs that would need to be covered to implement our proposal. It is critical that classrooms do not have over 40 students in them. Therefore, public schools must hire more faculty to prevent overcrowding in classrooms. There is no direct way of calculating this expense; however, the average salary of a teacher in Michigan is $61,978. Furthermore, it is important that students are able to take part in more extracurricular activities, like clubs or recreational sports, to make them more interested in coming to school everyday. This would add some more cost to the salaries of teachers, about 2-3 days per week for 2 hours. Schools should ask their faculty to volunteer for these programs before offering to pay them. Many teachers are very passionate about their jobs, and they may take a cut in salary to do more for their students. Another solution we proposed would actually help cover these expenses. We ask that public schools make an effort to fundraise in order to raise money for their school districts. This would help communities in Michigan come together and achieve a common goal of improving their school districts. Additionally, it would help create bonds between teachers and students as they would both be taking part in this. Furthermore, a solution we proposed is to keep the funding allocated to schools the same when a student transfers from public to private school. This solution does not require any costs, because families with students in private schools still pay the same taxes. Community members may reject to help fundraise to raise money for their school. They are ultimately not required to do this and they may not want to put the time in to help raise the funds necessary to improve the public schools in their community. Furthermore, teachers may not want to volunteer to help with extracurricular activities, or even with increased pay these teachers may not want to stay the extra hours to help their students gain a wholistic experience in their schools. 

 

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

1. https://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/05/michigan_schools_on_a_race_to.html

2. https://www.bridgemi.com/phils-column/why-michigan-schools-fail-and-what-do-about-it

3. https://www.mackinac.org/same-old-story-about-the-problems-in-public-schools

4. https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2018/04/11/whos-really-responsible-for-the-low-academic-scores-in-detroits-schools

5. http://www.michiganradio.org/post/average-teacher-salary-michigan-61978-heres-why-number-doesnt-mean-much

6. https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/la-grange/news/ct-dlg-student-activities-tl-0324-20160317-story.html

 

 

 




 

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