News Bite

Billions In Federal COVID Bucks And Detroit Schools Can’t Provide Some Pencils?

The story that teachers pay out-of-pocket for supplies even less plausible than usual

Michigan law is clear about the state’s duty to pay for basic classroom supplies in public schools. But this does not prevent some voices in the teaching profession and other school interests from repeating complaints that educators must purchase basic supplies out-of-pocket.

In one recent example, an individual claimed in a Facebook forum that her sister, who worked in an inner-city Detroit school, had 36 children in her class and had to beg for pencils. She could only, the individual claimed, scrap together 16.

As previously reported by Michigan Capitol Confidential:

“The Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Department of Education have both affirmed that the state constitution mandates that school districts, not school employees, are responsible for providing materials deemed essential for teaching.”

“The Michigan Department of Education lists specific examples of what is considered ‘essential,’ including pencils, paper, crayons, scissors, glue sticks and text books.”

In 2018, the Detroit Public Schools Community District reported on its website what it was spending at businesses that sell school supplies. In one 24-day period in July and August of that year, the district spent $397,430 at School Specialty Inc., Arrow Office Supply and Office Depot.

The claim that schools can’t afford supplies has become far more dubious in the face of epidemic-related state and federal school aid packages. The Detroit Public Schools Community District is receiving an extra $1.3 billion in federal COVID money.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.