News Story

No, New York Times, Michigan Schools In Poor Communities Get More, Not Less

Reality still trumps media and special interest narratives

The New York Times repeated a myth about school funding in Michigan in a June 25 article on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The myth is that the Michigan school districts serving poor communities are poorly funded compared to districts serving more affluent areas.

The New York Times reported, “Most states spend more money per pupil in their high-poverty districts; Michigan spends less.”

That is false. Here are the actual funding figures for one school district serving a lower income community, in Flint:

Flint received $8,932 per pupil from the state in 2018-19; the figure does not include local or federal dollars it also received.

Frankenmuth is a town 30 miles north of Flint, in which 5.7% of residents have incomes below the poverty level — far less than the 40.4% poverty rate in Flint.

The Frankenmuth school district received $6,641 per pupil in state funds in 2018-19.

Frankenmuth received less because the state gives more to districts with higher numbers of students considered to be at risk of not succeeding, due to family poverty.

For example, Flint’s public school district received $3.4 million in state at-risk funding in 2018-19, which equates to $806 per pupil.

Frankenmuth, by contrast, received $190,994 in at-risk funding, or $143 per pupil.

Districts that serve poorer communities also get more from the federal government for at-risk students.

Benton Harbor Area Schools received $14,740 per pupil in total funding (local, state, federal). It gets $1,997 per pupil in federal funding. Benton Harbor’s poverty rate is 46.9%.

The district in the nearby city of St. Joseph received $124 per pupil in federal funding. St. Joseph has a 7.7% poverty rate.