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State should be focusing on providing adequate resources to schools in wake of slashing higher education funding over past decade

LANSING – In his budget unveiling today, Gov. Rick Snyder is set to propose plans for tying school funding to a set of specific benchmarks for Michigan’s universities. However, while such “performance-based funding” proposals sound attractive, other states have shown that such programs have been abandoned by 14 states over the last thirty years.

The American Federation of Teachers Michigan today cautioned that negative consequences could result if so-called “performance-based funding” initiatives are implemented for state schools. Such a funding mechanism has the potential to push universities toward raising the bar for college admittance for the sole purpose of increasing graduation rates, since universities would be solely focused on completion rates and not individual student success. Additionally, such school funding proposals may limit program and course offerings, discouraging innovation and entrepreneurial behavior.

“Instead of purposing one-size-fits-all requirements on Michigan’s universities, Gov. Snyder and the state Legislature should be focused on restoring funding for last year’s cuts to higher education,” said David Hecker, president of the AFT Michigan. “Michigan has failed to adequately funding our college’s and universities, which makes affording college more difficult for families and students. We share in the goal of seeing more students succeed in the classroom, but additional requirements placed on already-strained universities is not the way to accomplish this.”

Michigan has continued cut state appropriations for higher education over the last decade despite student enrollment increasing. From 2004 to 2009, Michigan suffered the sixth greatest drop in educational appropriations per full-time equivalent student in the nation. Additionally, Michigan saw the seventh highest increase in net tuition as a proportion of higher education revenue during the same period. The 2011-12 budget slashed higher education by another 15 percent.

“So-called “performance-based funding” initiatives would further diminish access and opportunity for Michigan’s students,” Hecker continued. “Countless other states have showcased the pitfalls of such funding mechanisms and Gov. Snyder should focus on providing basic funding for universities before rushing into a new funding experiment.”

AFT Michigan today also released a policy briefing memo to members of the Michigan legislature detailing why so-called “performance-based funding” is bad for Michigan’s students.

A copy of the memo can be viewed here.

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