24 February 2014


This story first appeared in Detroit Free Press.

The answer to Michigan's school-funding crisis is consolidation of school districts and the elimination of duplication, especially school administrators. While state funding is "per pupil," spending is "per adult."

Proposal A set limits on property taxes and created a statewide system for funding public schools. Prop A was intended to encourage school districts to eliminate waste and make them operate more efficiently. The statewide per-pupil funding system was intended to set a foundation of solid, reliable funding under every public school student in the state. Basically, poor districts got more and rich districts got less. So, some local districts avoided Prop A reductions by passing a "hold harmless" millage, which allows local taxpayers to pay additional funds to support operating costs of their local schools.

So, why are school districts in Michigan struggling financially? Because we have too many of them. We operate nearly 550 local school districts, many with fewer than 1,000 students, and many occupying fewer than 2 square miles.

Now, all those local school districts hold elections, hire superintendents, award contracts, buy supplies -- lots of duplication. Michigan's school districts should be encouraged to join hands with neighboring districts and to consolidate.

On Tuesday, Grosse Pointe schools will hold a special, single-issue election at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. It wants to add $50 million in debt to an already staggering $48 million on the books.

That's a lot of red ink for a premium-funded district, and does not reflect any interest in thrift and efficiency.

Jenny Greenwell

Bloomfield Hills

Why would you vote no on trash privatization?

The three Detroit City Council members who voted against the privatization of trash service are not dealing with reality. It is the same old story that previous self-serving councils have embraced. Cities everywhere have private companies do the trash collections because it is better and less expensive. Get on board, people.

Paul Schmidt

Harper Woods

Greed by rich is hurting the rest of our country

Most of my conservative friends say that higher taxes lead to bigger government. When we have increased revenues, it is spent on services like education, infrastructure, research at our universities and dependable safety nets for the less fortunate. That is not making government bigger, per se.

Increased revenue should be obtained through a more fair, progressive tax system. In my mind, it is not fair to tax money obtained through capital gains and dividends at half the rate of money gained through labor. The "one percenters" like it that way because it seems they depend less on the services that taxation provides. With the vast amounts of money provided by the richest Americans for political campaigns and lobbying, it is clear that they are having more influence on what is best for them instead of what is best for the rest of society. We have gone from a representative democracy to a plutocracy.

Daniel Dankoff


No, GOP, immigration reform cannot wait

I am extremely disappointed in the Republicans leadership of the U.S. House for its decision not to move forward with immigration legislation until next year, when the GOP hopes to regain power in the Senate. This decision is not in the best interest of the voters and the American people, for whom they work.

Pushing aside the topic of immigration is telling millions of immigrants that they are not worth the time or discussion of our Congress. For instance, members of the House could be working to pass the bill that the Senate passed last June, but they are brushing off the pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million immigrants in our country until next year. It is only February. The fate, safety and stability of millions of families will have to wait, but according to the Republicans in the House, one more year can't hurt.

Ali Casemore

East Lansing

Teenager wrong to defend juvenile lifers

Though I applaud 16-year-old Matilyn Sarosi's academic prowess and her dedication to her cause, I find her logic on juvenile lifers to be faulty at best. Coming from a wealthy, cloistered private school that indoctrinates their students with "social justice," I am not surprised by her positions.

Her excuse for the youths convicted of taking another human life as "stupid decisions" leads to a slippery slope. What is next? Forgiving a senior citizen who injures or kills others with their car due to their advanced age and lack of response time? What about the "affluenza defense?" How can one jail a youth who was given no proper instruction or guidance?

Yes, everyone has a chance for redemption, but that redemption is in their relationship with the Lord, not society.

Thomas Sleete


Michigan's roads are an embarrassment

I chose to move back to Michigan even though I had options to move elsewhere. Horrible mistake! I had company from out of town, and they were horrified at the conditions of our roads, as was I when I moved back here. Don't use the excuse it's because of our weather. Other states have worse weather than we do. Shame on our officials. Perhaps you can give them a tax break to go back to school to learn how to run things better!

Diana Craig


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