Creating Opportunity For All

Fair funding for every Michigan student

Every student in Michigan deserves a chance for a bright future. But for Michigan to truly become a top state for public education, state leaders and policymakers will have to address the longstanding opportunity gaps that exist for students who are the most underserved, including children who live in areas of concentrated poverty. Leading education states can show us the way to create #OpportunityForAll.


We Imagine

Imagine if Michigan had a public education system where all children were supported to achieve at high levels, regardless of race, gender, disability, family income, native language, or geography. Imagine if our state provided the needed resources, supports and fair funding to erase longstanding gaps in opportunity, achievement, and attainment that continue to separate students from low-income backgrounds, multilingual learners, students with disabilities and students of color from their peers.

We believe that if we set high expectations for an excellent and fair public school system, we will ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve their dreams and reach success.

Michigan has a long way to go. But we have hope.

I have a dream that … Michigan will achieve its desired goal of being a high-performing state, providing the best educational opportunities from cradle to career.
Chair of the Education Committee, Detroit Branch NAACP, CEO of BFDI Educational Services, Inc., Tri-Chair of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity

Michigan’s Status Quo

Over 1 million children attend school in Michigan’s K-12 education system — each with their own unique and valuable experiences, knowledge, and potential. Yet, for too long Michigan has had an unfair school funding system, fraught with barriers to student success in and beyond school. Money matters in education, especially for students who are the most underserved. Poverty and other external factors affect student outcomes, yet our schools lack the resources schools needed to provide all students a high-quality education.

Best practices from leading education states and research demonstrate that Michigan should be funding students from low-income backgrounds and multilingual learners by an additional $4.9 billion annually as of FY 2023-24. And we should be funding students with disabilities by hundreds of millions more each year as well.

Source: MI School Data 21-22 Student Enrollment Counts, House Fiscal Agency Estimated FY 2022-23 District Impact, & Public Act No. 103 of 2023

Michigan falls far below what most states provide for students from low-income backgrounds, ranking 20th out of 28 states with similar funding systems, as of FY 2022-23. What’s more, for decades, our flat weight of 11.5% did not account for the concentration of poverty in the district where students attend school. While recent important changes to our funding system acknowledge the effects of concentrated poverty, including through a new Opportunity Index, there is more we need to do.


Lessons from a Leading State

Building on decades of fair funding experience

Michigan has long had one of America’s most regressive school funding formulas.

In fact, Michigan has long been near the bottom nationally for the additional funding the state provides for both multilingual learners and students from low-income backgrounds, leaving substantial funding gaps in what students currently receive under Michigan’s funding system and what they truly need. Moreover, Michigan has been underfunding students with disabilities by hundreds of millions annually.

Yet there is hope in the example from leading states like Massachusetts, widely considered the top state in the nation for education — and a leading state for fair funding. Massachusetts made a commitment to overhaul its education system decades ago through the implementation of career- and college-ready

expectations for all students, greater supports for teachers, and a commitment to effective teaching and school leadership, alongside a grand bargain for the state’s charter sector. Most importantly, Massachusetts decided to invest heavily in its students through increased funding. These varied investments helped Massachusetts become the top education state in the country. Recognizing the persistent opportunity gaps that still existed among student groups, however, Massachusetts again took a position of national leadership and adapted its funding formula to explicitly address concentrations of poverty—meaning that students who have the greatest needs receive the greatest resources.

Michigan has a great opportunity now to learn from leading states like Massachusetts.

Opportunity for All Means Fair Funding for All