Funding for K-12 Education - Jacqueline Shandler and Mark Shweitzer

Context

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

Michigan Legislature – House Bill 4822 (2015)

This House Bill will add a new section to the Revised School Code. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, third grade students will be promoted to grade four based on their reading proficiency. There will be reading assistance programs public schools will be required to implement in order to ensure student success. More specifically the new revision to the bill states, “… ongoing professional development for early elementary school teachers will be provided by skilled school-based reading/literacy coaches.” These literacy coaches will provide the elementary school teachers with strategies for successfully facilitating class discussion.

This bill discusses necessary improvements to education and directly relates to our proposal because it focuses on the aspect of assistance programs that need to be implemented at public schools. Also, this bill relates to our proposal because it clearly shows that there is a need to improve students’ literacy skills at a young age and professional coaches/tutors are effective at improving these necessary skills for young students.

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:

Our tutoring program will make a difference in the lives of underprivileged students across Michigan because they will benefit from tutoring by being given the opportunity to make enormous academic improvements with this one-on-one attention while compensating for the limitations of their schools. Our tutoring program will provide students with the essential learning skills that their peers with more resources attain at a young age. High-quality tutoring will be free and readily available to low-income students throughout public schools in Michigan. This tutoring program will not only improve students’ performance in school, including improving standardized testing scores, but also increase the graduation rate within the district and prepare more students to attend college.

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

Last semester, we were enrolled in a class at the University of Michigan that involved us spending 40 hours at a local preschool. From this experience, we gained a first hand look at a typical education center in Michigan. When the class was complete, we discussed many of our observations while at the preschool, and most of it was positive, but then it occurred to us that our view may be skewed. Our preschool was in Ann Arbor, and we wondered what other schools around the state were like in comparison. Right around this time we both decided to seek out a way for us to discuss this further in a community interested in helping Michigan, and that’s what lead us to the caucus. Once we were enrolled in the caucus, the discussions on education, especially focusing on K-12 education issues, were a great source of information for us. We learned a lot about the issues that were taking the educational community by storm, as well as the solutions that have been put in place or are in motion now. Learning about K-12 education is a topic that we are both passionate about, and we conducted a large amount of research online and in the university libraries to become knowledgeable on the topic of education. After a while, we narrowed down all education issues into the one we found most concerning: failing schools. Our goal is to try and solve the problem of failing and underperforming schools in Michigan. Our passion led us to develop our goal, and ultimately, our proposal. 

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

While we volunteered at different community service organizations, both experiences were influential in our thought process in regards to our proposal. To start, Jacqueline is volunteering as a tutor with Circle K, so the bridge between her work and our proposal is obvious. She brought her experience as a tutor to our idea and it helped us figure out what tactics are most successful for tutoring children. While working with the students, she realized that she was having a real impact on their academic performance, as she saw their success throughout her time. The students were becoming more engaged in their schoolwork each week and developing their reading skills very quickly. After thinking more about how teaching children to read as a tutor can be so beneficial, she helped guide our proposal more towards tutoring and less towards tackling the entire education system with one large solution. Ultimately, this was very beneficial for us because it made our proposal more pragmatic. Similarly, Mark worked in a Detroit based service community. From working there, it became clear that Detroit was in need of help, and that it was unfair that the state of Michigan had an area that was so underfunded. That experience as a whole really brought our attention to the fact that if we help the children in this area, who need it, we can make a difference in the future of Detroit once those children grow up to be successful. We view it as a long-term investment in the Detroit community. Nonetheless, we want to benefit the entire state of Michigan, and the ideas from servicing Detroit were also great inspiration for us to look to other areas of Michigan where schools are struggling and children are in need of tutoring.

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

Our Podcast: Issues in K-12 Michigan Ed. 

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:

We met with Erin Byrnes who is the leader of democratic engagement and America Reads at the Ginsberg Center in Ann Arbor. For the America Reads program, Erin recruits, hires, and trains work-study students to serve as literacy tutors in grades K-5. Part of her role for the America Reads program is to discover new ways to engage tutors and elementary students to keep the program up to date and flexible. First, we asked Erin about the America Reads program. She explained that America Reads is a national federal work-study program at multiple universities across the country. America Reads works exclusively with public schools and 100% of the tutors’ wages come from the government. We asked Erin what obstacles and challenges she has encountered with the program. She said that one of the biggest challenges is that every school district is unique and there are a wide variety of socioeconomic statuses. Therefore, for our tutoring program, we need to assess the differences in school districts. In addition, she noted that a challenge we will face when launching our tutoring program is that there are several supplemental reading and literacy programs already in place at schools throughout Michigan.

From this conversation with Erin, we learned that it is necessary to assess whether we want to completely start our own tutoring program or add to existing efforts already in place throughout Michigan. Finally, we asked Erin about the costs of America Reads so that we could gather an idea about how much it would cost to fund our tutoring program. Erin informed us that the single biggest cost of America Reads is transportation and it’s crucial to consider transportation and weather when planning ahead for our costs. Altogether, Erin said that we should think about locations of universities in relation to elementary and middle schools to account for transportation and to consider duplicate services where literacy programs are in place and not to start our tutoring program at these schools. 

CONSULTATION 2:

We spoke with Alexis Witkin, who is a bilingual elementary school teacher in the Chicago public schools. We talked to Alexis about the larger problems facing the Detroit public schools and issues with teacher retention rates and lack of one-on-one attention to students. The larger operational problems Alexis discussed were low funding of the public education system and a poor school environment because of high teacher turnover. She informed us that many people (and potential tutors) make the assumption that students can read fluently after third grade, but this is not true. Therefore, there needs to be ongoing training and support for tutors. Although the tutors of our program know how to read, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they know how to teach students how to read, which is why training the tutors is necessary for success. She also informed us that the tutors should understand education as an issue of social justice and to keep the community building piece in mind. Furthermore, we asked Alexis about other advice she has for our tutoring program. She stated that it’s essential for there to be consistency of the relationships between the tutors and children. For the tutoring to be successful, the tutors need to build strong relationships with the children and commit to their tutoring for at least a semester, but a full school year is ideal. Finally, she noted that it’s common for college students to think about what’s best for them instead of what’s best for the students they are tutoring, which is something we need to be aware of.

CONSULTATION 3:

We spoke with Kolleen Gossman, Director of Planning for the State of Michigan State Budget Office. Kolleen is in charge of working on the budget, and specifically, how the budget’s allocations will function. While she was very helpful in responding to our questions, her honesty led us to believe that she would not be a proponent of our idea. The main focus of our questions for her was in the following areas: How much money, if any, does the state have for our new education initiative? Would taxpayers be on board? Were there any precedents of this sort of program in Michigan before today? What does she think will be the biggest challenges for us? Kolleen mentioned the difficulties that we would encounter in trying to get the state to fund our idea. In her answers, Kolleen gave us a big picture look at what we were asking for. When one asks the government for money, that money is coming from the taxpayers, and taxes collected on everyday purchases. This means that we have to consider the citizens of Michigan as stakeholders, and take their vote into account. This was very helpful for us in thinking about our counter-arguments section, as we realized that many people who pay taxes feel that they have paid enough for education already and they do not feel it necessary to pay more for a supplementary program, especially if they do not have young children. Finally, one last thing that Kolleen pointed out to us, among several other great suggestions, was that we need to consider all of the liabilities we might encounter. For example, she proposed ideas we hadn’t thought of such as insurance liabilities for the college students driving to and from the schools. She also recommended that we should conduct background checks. While we knew that students and tutors would spend a lot of one-on-one time together, we failed to consider that this could be an issue of safety aside from the educational benefits. We hope that our proposal will be successful, and we think that if we can adhere to the advice of Kolleen then we will have a good shot at starting the trial programs.

Prospectus:

Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)

Our issue of focus is regarding resources and funding in K-12 education throughout the state of Michigan. There are countless schools in Michigan that are underfunded and are lacking the necessary resources to provide a comprehensive education to the students. These schools need more money to sufficiently pay teachers, buy more books and various school supplies, and to fund classes and activities outside of the core subjects that are crucial to foster the learning of well-rounded children.

Recently, the Michigan School Reform Office announced that 38 schools throughout the state are “failing,” 66% of which are in Detroit. The state of Michigan is considering closing these institutions given their poor academic performance, primarily based on poor standardized test scores. Whether or not the schools close is ambiguous at this point, but what is concrete is the fact that many schools in Michigan are performing inadequately. We believe that this is due to a lack of funding, which could revive these schools and get them on a track towards success. We need to pay more attention to the education of our youths, as they will be at a great loss when they graduate high school if we don’t act now.

Furthermore, there have been many reductions in school funding in the past decade or so in Michigan, resulting in larger class sizes with fewer teachers per student. For example, in Detroit, many teachers in the past several years have quit and as a result, the class sizes are growing with more than 50 kids per classroom. In addition, there are fewer music and art classes along with extracurricular activities. As a result of education cuts, many district with disadvantaged children don’t have the services to meet children’s health care, emotional, and social needs. In an article from the Detroit Free Press, “Experts: Time to Fix School Funding in Michigan,” Lori Higgins writes, “Michigan's system of funding schools is becoming increasingly unequal and the state needs to spend more to educate students who are low-income or speak little or no English.” Finally, while there has been action taken, such The Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), so far these efforts have not been enough. GLEP is a bi-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization supporting quality choices in public education for all Michigan students.

Sources:

http://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2017/01/10/school-funding-michigan/96389942/

http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/10/20/michigan-education-funding-snyder-cuts-teachers/17620163/

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20062058?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Local Volunteers Tutoring Program

Our first solution is to create a volunteer based tutoring system. In many Michigan schools, especially around Detroit, there is a lack of efficient 1-on-1 attention given to students. This is a cause of many of these “failing” schools, where classrooms have one teacher for every 35 students, and sometimes more. This allows teachers to only get an overview of students’ weaknesses, and not fully address them. Plus, there is no time to attend to children’s needs and work with them toward academic success. However, if there were tutors available to children who are falling behind, the tutor could assist that child and bring them up to speed. The source of tutors could come from proud local volunteers, but if that weren’t enough they could be sourced in. We propose that college students be able to earn credit towards their college degrees by tutoring children in low-income areas in public schools around their university location. Similarly, there are likely to be others who are sentenced to community service, such as other college students or citizens who are caught speeding, who would be able to help out. Plus, we could get the help of recruiting tutors from the Great Lakes Education Project, which aims to eliminate education inequalities. Moreover, having this tutoring service would be a great way for kids who are going to under-funded schools to catch up to their peers across the state. While we recognize that this solution has flaws, such as the fact that children should be able to receive a decent education within school hours, it is still a viable solution to a hard-hitting problem. We believe that tutor sessions could ultimately help to mitigate the gap in learning between funded and under-funded schools in Michigan.

https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/20741

http://www.glep.org/glep-mission/

SOLUTION 2: Increase Funding Towards "No Child Left Behind Act"

The second solution could be for congress to improve the No Child Left Behind Act, and make the allocation of federal dollars go more towards students living in poverty. The U.S. Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission issued a statement in February of 2013 that stated that equity, especially regarding resources, is highly essential to improving US school systems. This is definitely true in Detroit. They continue with, “To achieve this goal, the commission instructed all levels of government to improve or redesign their methods of funding schools in order to adopt truly equitable funding systems." This means that the resources should be based on student need, not the zip code of the school. This is a controversial policy as many wealthy citizens view these policies as unfair, but this will be the inception of a movement for improving school quality in Michigan. One good step toward doing this would be to improve the power of Title I. Title I, or education grants to the disadvantaged, is federal financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Therefore, if the government were able to increase the funding going toward Michigan schools there would be more resources and thus more children would have a better education. The ago old question that remains is, where will the federal government get these extra funds? Our proposition is to decrease military spending. The US spends 54% of its budget on military, and we propose that they lower it to 50%, thus giving around forty billion more to education. Lastly, and most crucial, we need a local system of checks and balances because many times money spent on education is unjustly spent favoring higher income areas. We need to make sure that the spending system is fair.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/05/22/32brown.h32.html

https://www2.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html?exp=0

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states/

http://educationnext.org/how-schools-spend-their-money/

SOLUTION 3: Teacher Retention

Our last solution is to retain and support effective teachers. Increased wages for teachers would attract more smart people to the job, and it would keep current teachers in place. Strong teachers are essential for providing an education, especially when they are faced with the issue of having too many kids per classroom. In these under-funded areas skilled teachers the most valuable as their advanced methods can attempt to compensate for the lack of funding. Looking from this angle, paying more for teachers could ultimately save money on resources. Nonetheless, teachers should receive higher salaries, especially as it is economically feasible. A recent statement issued by Congress to the US Department of Education supports this idea. In the statement they explained how market research exhibits that increasing starting salaries from $37,000 to $65,000, and top salaries from $70,000 to $150,000 would incentivize good teachers to work in high-poverty schools. They estimate that at the current ratio of student to teachers, it would run the government around thirty billion dollars a year. As mentioned in our second solution, this is within the US budget should they choose to slightly lower the military budget. Lastly, we think that more organized schedules for schools that promote a bigger focus on the most important core subjects would be a great solution to our issue. This fits in with our plan to hire more teachers who are well versed in effective teaching. Plus, it will lead to better school leadership and ultimately better working conditions.

https://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/eec/equity-excellence-commission-report.pdf

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.

We met with Orian Shkrobut to discuss our prospectus and ideas moving forward for our final proposal. First, we talked to Orian about the root of the problem that we are trying to identify. He asked us whether the performance is bad due to the funding or if the funding is bad which leads to poor performance, health care, emotional care, and social development of students. We spoke about our three potential solutions and the pros and cons to all. He informed us that we are not able to decrease military spending in order to increase the funding in public schools because the military is dealt with on a federal level, whereas public education is on a state level. Therefore, we understood that we have to identify how to cut spending within the state of Michigan in order for our solutions to work effectively and attain these funds. This advice allowed us to look into Michigan’s spending to identify where to cut spending in areas of excess within the state of Michigan and shift it to education funding.

Furthermore, we discussed how our second and third solutions require more funding towards public education in Michigan and we have to identify where this money can come from in order to both increase funding of the “No Child Left Behind Act” and of teacher’s salaries. We realized that our second and third proposed solutions revolve around increasing funding for public education and we will be better off pursuing our first proposed solution, “Local Volunteers Tutoring Program.” Orian helped us narrow our focus and assess all three of our proposed solutions. It was beneficial to talk through all three proposed solutions and assess the pros and cons of all. His advice was extremely helpful because he told us that when choosing a solution, we should always ask ourselves: “Is this solution realistic? How much will this solution cost the state? And how long will it take to institute this solution?”

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.

We spoke with many students, faculty, and professionals to complete our proposal. We spoke with students who had tutored in the past, as well as those who used tutors when they were younger. We also gauged interest from students on campus for participating in a class that allows you tutor for credits toward your degree, to which we received positive responses.

Later in the process, we spoke with professors who had experience in the education field, including Michael Fahy. Speaking with Michael was a huge aid for us because he led us to resources around Ann Arbor that proved to be very useful to us. He pointed us in the direction of the Ginsberg Center, a local tutoring service, which was very helpful. Other teachers we spoke with let us know that they were in favor of our idea if we could fund it. In fact, a few teachers with children of their own said that they would be interested in this service for their children. From these conversations, we learned that the hours right after school are some of the most crucial for children, so the timing of our proposed idea was ideal.

We spoke with Erin Byrnes who works at the Ginsberg Center, and this was a truly eye-opening conversation for us. This conversation led us to believe that we were planning on under-funding ourselves, which would have been detrimental to our project. Thankfully we learned from this and other ideas that the Center gave us.

Additionally, in order to successfully launch a proposal for our idea we read countless articles looking for a historical example of a successful (or not successful) state-funded tutoring program. It turned out that there were very few examples of this, which was interesting because while it means that we have less of a strong, already existing example to guide us, we felt validated that we thought of an original idea that could be a pioneer in the education field for other states to use across the country.

We also looked at any other information on tutoring we could find. For example, we read articles like, “Is Your Program Effective? What the Research Says: Tutoring,” or other articles that speak more on how to start up a tutoring program. This gave us confidence in our model as we knew that college aged students are capable of completing the tasks that successful tutoring programs use.

We thought about all of the factors that could influence our idea, and we tried to control them in the best way we could. One of the things that we thought about was the fact that we needed college students to be able to go and come from the tutoring locations. This was notable because it meant that we had to be strategic about where we could locate our trial programs. Moreover, we thought about things like gathering interest from students, and we had to scale back our program because we realized that not all students are interested in tutoring, and our program will be one of many courses offered at our chosen universities.

We had to rethink our idea many times. After hearing from those who we reached out to, we took our idea in a new direction. For example, initially we wanted to have the tutors start next fall, but after speaking with a Michael, we realized that it may be too soon, and instead we added the idea of a three-year trial run of tutoring programs in three different locations across the state. He also informed us on the importance of having someone assess the tutoring program after each year-long trial run and identify if the students using the tutoring service are improving their skills overall.

Lastly, another idea that quickly hit a dead end for us was when we wanted federal funding for this project. We thought that we could take some of the military’s budget and use it for this project; however, we learned that we had to limit ourselves to statewide funding, which redirected our research process to head towards the Michigan State Budget Office. At this Budget Office, we met with Kolleen Gossman. This consultation was very helpful for us because it encouraged us to consider other factors that could influence the success of us starting our tutoring program. 

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.?

We made equal contributions throughout the process and to the finished proposal. More specifically, both of us conducted research on the issues in public education and discussed the main roots of these problems. We researched ideas separately and then talked about potential solutions together and with the consultants throughout the process. We wrote the prospectus, solutions, and proposal together in a Google Doc, constantly editing each other’s writing and adding to it as well. Finally, we met with the topic coordinator, course instructors, and consultants together. Working together helped us stay on the same page throughout the process and have the same ideas about our goals and developing our final proposed solution. 

===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.... a well-educated population is crucial to any functioning society.

WHEREAS.... schools should provide substantial education for all students.

WHEREAS.... there are 38 failing schools in the state of Michigan.

WHEREAS....16 of these 38 failing schools are within the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

WHEREAS.... many of these failing schools have classrooms with one teacher for every 35 students, sometimes more. Teachers are unable to gain a thorough understanding of their students’ needs and work with them toward academic success. 

WHEREAS.... low-income students need academic aid more than any other population and Michigan's system of funding schools is becoming increasingly unequal.

WHEREAS.... research has indicated that one-on-one attention to students is having a positive effect the academic performance of struggling students.

WHEREAS.... a 2015 Missouri State University study has shown that, “despite limited empirical evidence of tutoring's impact on non-cognitive skills, a rich body of literature supports the idea that short-term interventions can influence students’ attitudes and behaviors, and the diversity of successful tutoring and mentoring programs suggests that any skill, not just math or reading, can be effectively taught through meaningful one-on-one tutoring relationships.”

WHEREAS.... our tutoring program will use the successful features of the Missouri State University study to provide a consistent, encouraging, and supportive environment with educated role models.

WHEREAS.... through the use of our one-on-one tutoring program, K-8 students from low-income areas will be able to keep up with their schoolwork regularly. The college tutors will show the students the most effective methods for success in all core subjects, including useful techniques for studying in science and math subjects. In this setting, the K-8 students will be more willing to ask questions as they are getting individualized learning as opposed to large classroom exposure.

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.... That a 3-year pilot program will be established that will test the viability of recruiting university students within a community-based learning program involving 3 different locations and school districts throughout Michigan.

1. College students will earn general credits towards their college degrees by tutoring children in low-income public schools in close proximity to their universities. More specifically, college students enrolled in universities throughout the state of Michigan have the ability to earn four credits towards their college degree if they volunteer at least 40 hours at local, K-8 low-income public schools near their university campus. College students will complete this 40-hour minimum requirement over the course of a semester and earn 4 credits, but they can earn a total of 8 credits if they volunteer for two consecutive semesters, volunteering for a total of at least 80 hours. College students will go through a necessary background check before they can begin tutoring the children. In addition, the university student volunteers will participate in eight hours of training over the course of 2 weeks. The training professionals will teach the university students to effectively teach students how to read. Most importantly, our tutoring program will partner with public schools in low-income areas where students have a lack of efficient one-on-one attention from teachers and perform the worst on standardized testing in their city. 

2. A tutoring system can only be successful if both the schools and the students are on board. We need to ensure that the school district recognizes the goal of our program, and agrees to help us in achieving our aim. The schools are going to be extremely helpful in the planning and organizing of our program, as we plan to use the school’s facilities as the location for the tutoring. Since we are going to identify the worst performing schools in Michigan, with the biggest class sizes, and the lowest average incomes, we will make it clear that our aim is to help get these schools back on the path for success. The key for our supplementary program is to let the schools know that this aid is coming from a helpful place, and we mean no disrespect to their practices by trying to help. Additionally, the teacher’s support will be essential for our program, as we want the children to be encouraged to attend our sessions. We want to make it clear that while we do recognize the hard work of these teachers, our program makes bigger classes more manageable, and we are only trying to aid the teacher’s efforts so that the children can succeed. Once everybody knows we are with them and not against them, we can move forward in getting the program set up and on track. Lastly, we will speak with the parents of these children so that they know how and why we want to help. We want to make them feel comfortable having our tutors work with their children, and we need to make sure that the parents are willing to help us improve their children’s education. 

3. We plan to have three test programs, in which we complete a trial run of these tutoring programs across the state of Michigan. Our 3-year pilot program will take place in areas where there is a desperate need to improve education include: Detroit, East Lansing, and Ypsilanti. Afterward, we can assess the success of these programs after we observe how the students have improved over time. Ideally, we would receive funding for these three universities where we will be conducting our trials, which we would use to pay for the cost of starting and organizing the tutoring center. Our hope is that these three trials will be an excellent way for students to come in and receive help with their studies.

For the inception of these trails to be successful, we need adequate funding. Our proposed budget, which is found below, outlines that our annual cost will be approximately $3,000. This includes money for tutors, transportation, and supervision of the tutors, which includes training. The tutors would have to be trained so that they can teach the material. While this isn’t the hardest process at this education level, often times people have a hard time explaining their methodology because the work is so rudimentary to them. Our trainers will consist of education professionals, and those with experience in teaching and tutoring.

The organization of the trial runs would be as follows. Each of the three school districts would hold the tutoring at one of their schools; ideally the school that is the most centrally located to the elementary and middle schools, and the tutors would meet the children at that location. Having the location be at the schools that these children already attend is useful because it makes it easier for the children, and their parents, to work into their schedule. The transportation aspect for the volunteering students is a tough factor, however we plan to use a combination of incentives and student owned resources to get students to the sites. The college students will have to drive to the schools they are working at, and they would meet with students who were willing to participate. 

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. As with any proposition, there are individuals who would oppose our idea, and barriers exist that could make it difficult to successfully turn our vision into a reality. First, there are those who believe that this is a superfluous program as schools are supposed to be decent enough to provide a successful K-12 education to all students. While it is true that schools aim to provide a complete education, the fact of the matter is that they have not been, and until the public education system is corrected in full, our solution is an excellent supplement to failing schools. In addition, there are other programs in place at schools across the country, such as the America Reads program. However, the America Reads program is specifically for students in grades K-5 and the focus is purely on improving literacy. Our tutoring program is differentiated from other programs already in place because the program is for low-income students in grades K-8 and assists them with all core subjects, not just improving literacy.

2. Next, some individuals believe that it will be too difficult to obtain tutors to volunteer and commute to and from the schools. Transportation is a high cost for these tutors, but our tutoring program will refund the students at the end of their volunteering. Also, carpooling is highly encouraged and will save time and money for the volunteers. Furthermore, this issue may seem worse than it is as many students would welcome the opportunity to try something unique rather than just take a class to earn credit towards their degrees. This program was founded by two students who did just that, as we worked together for 40 hours one semester in a local preschool for psychology credit. Additionally, some will argue that the formation of a bond between tutor and student would be too short if the student chose to only participate for one semester. While this may be true, students would be able to participate for two consecutive semesters (a full school year). Additionally, the focus should be on the education, and it is more important to have the children learn rather than not learn because of a bonus issue which is the formation of a long-term relationship with the tutor.

3. Moreover, some argue that it could be confusing to be taught the same coursework from two different teachers if the tutors use alternative methods. However, the tutors can adjust to the way that the teachers are teaching their students and adapt their style as they go. The training that the tutors are required to complete will teach them the most effective teaching styles as well. Lastly, skeptics may point out that tutoring is only a cover up for the real problem, which is that schools are in peril. While it is true that this solution is not the final answer to the problem of failing public education, it is a great start toward the path of international K-12 success for 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)?

We ask that the state set aside a certain amount of funds to finance our 3-year pilot tutoring program. We have designed the program so it is as cost-effective as possible. To begin, there are transportation costs because the program will refund the tutors for driving to and from the tutoring sites. These costs will conform to the rates that the particular universities are expecting. We will perform background checks on the university students, which will cost about $15 per student volunteer. Furthermore, the college students will go through two weeks of training, eight hours total. For this training, we expect to hire about six trainers who will be paid $80 each, per semester. The total cost for the training professionals per year is about $960. There will also be administrative costs that are necessary for keeping track of the children’s names and gaining permission from the K-8 students to participate in these studies. Additionally, there will be a cost for someone to assess the tutoring program after each year. This assessment will involve conducting research on the control group and identifying the measurable benefits of the programs by looking at the improvements in all of the core subjects, particularly math and reading. To conclude, there will not be a cost for the space for the tutoring because it will be held at one central location directly after school in the school district, such as the elementary or middle school so that the K-8 students do not have organize transportation. For our tutoring program to run successfully, we ask that the state allocate approximately $3,000 per year for each of the 3-years of piloting our program. 

References:

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

https://jpshe.missouristate.edu/assets/missouricompact/K-12_Article.pdf

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ERIC-ED464343/pdf/ERIC-ED464343.pdf

http://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2017/01/20/michigan-schools-close-reform/96805844/

https://ginsberg.umich.edu/article/america-reads-tutoring-corps

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billanalysis/House/pdf/2015-HLA-4822-9F886ABC.pdf

https://news.utexas.edu/2012/09/18/literacy-program-expands-tutoring-2000-children-austin-manor

http://www.urbanministry.org/wiki/your-program-effective-what-research-says-tutoring

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Total votes: 12