News Story

Growing Michigan Together Council says more education spending will draw people to state

The facts tell a different story; school funding does not play a causal role in success

The Growing Michigan Together workgroup recommends that the state increase school funding in an attempt to attract more residents.

The logic is that if the state spends more money on education, there will be better academic outcomes, which will drive families to the state. The problem is the state’s education data tells a different story.

The workgroup also says there has been inequitable funding in poor and minority communities.

“It is a commonly held belief that more funding leads to better academic outcomes. But this misconception has been consistently disproven,” Molly Macek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center, told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “Record spending paired with declining student performance in recent years confirms that more money is not the answer.”

The Detroit Public Schools Community District received $8,891 in per pupil funding in 2011-12, according to the Michigan Department of Education’s financial report, known as Bulletin 1014. Northville was rated as the wealthiest district in the state in 2020, according to Census Bureau data, and it was given $9,163 per pupil the same year.

Detroit’s per-pupil funding surpassed Northville’s over the next 10 years, however. Detroit received $25,761 in per-pupil funding and Northville was allotted $12,355 in 2021-22.

Flint Community Schools received $13,757 in per-pupil funding in 2011-12m while the Farmington Public School District lagged behind at $12,039. In 2021-22, Flint’s per pupil funding ballooned to $27,192 while Farmington’s was less than half that, or $12,355.

Although funding in Michigan’s schools has soared in recent years, academic outcomes have declined. The average per-pupil funding in 2009 was $14,883. The same year, the average fourth grade reading score was 218.2 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, while the average for math was 236.3. Eighth graders in the state scored 261.9 on average for reading and 278.3 for math, according to the Nation’s Report Card.

The state’s per-pupil funding average in 2022 was $19,126, a 28.5% increase. Yet overall scores decreased. Fourth grade reading scores dropped to 211.8 and those for math dropped to 232.2. Eighth grade reading scores dropped to 258.5 in reading, while the score for math dropped to 272.6.

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.