I was reading the just released Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) report titled, Michigan Education Finance Study, commissioned to them by the Michigan Department of Treasury.   The report suggests that there is inadequacy in funding to Michigan Public Schools.


My first thought was, “We needed to pay $399,000 of taxpayer money to have somebody from Colorado tell us this in a 224 page report?” That’s $1,781 per page!  This subject has been researched and talked about for years.

So I sent a note to my longtime friend, Eric Lupher, Executive Director of the Citizen’s Research Council of Michigan, a non-profit, non-partisan, 100-year-old think tank, probably the best think tank there is, and I asked him for his opinion.

The reply I received was so special I have to share it with you. As you know, Munetrix tries to put complicated government “things” into a context anybody can understand, and Eric just trumped us with his simplicity to my question about the APA report.

“Think of it (the APA Report) like getting a diagnosis for your car.  You know it isn’t working right. It’s making a strange noise, but you don’t know what’s causing the noise.  You’ve just paid the mechanic certified in automotive technology to figure out the root of the problem.  Now, we as a state have to decide whether we want to pay to get the problem fixed or if we can live with the annoying noise the system is making.  The system functions, but not in an optim148785_503602589682411_301510673_nal way.  We know that more money, better directed, can improve the performance.  But that costs money.  Are we content to eat out a few less times each week?  To live without cable for a while?

You could have trusted your neighbor (someone inside the state) to diagnose the problem, but your wife would dismiss the diagnosis because the neighbor isn’t certified and probably has preconceived notions about the problem.  So you go to an outsider, APA in this case, for the diagnosis.”


Eric Lupher, Executive Director – Citizens Research Council of Michigan

Mr. Lupher – I couldn’t have gotten this one any better than that. I, and anyone else who reads this, thank you for your succinct, analogous explanation.

Bob Kittle, President & CEO, Munetrix LLC

  • Bob Moore
    11:17 AM, 1 July 2016

    The example give by CRC is excellent but only part of the story. Michigan should have done this kind of study about every 15 years but did —none— since 1969 when the Burnsley formula of school funding was developed. Nearly all of the other states have done similar studies to provide data to support K-12 policy finance matters. The cost for such studies is usually well over Michigan’s cost because most state understand that using more than one of the four accepted adequacy study methodologies provides better data and validation. The cost per page example of the deliverable is a very, very poor way to look at this matter.
    What Michigan did right was to contract with a firm with both experience and understanding of the issue. It is unfortunate It took a study to reveal that Michigan does not require the necessary data to be collected and reported. But ..you already know that is the case..particularly about special ed costs and funding..

    • Bob Kittle
      3:24 PM, 5 July 2016

      Great points Bob. We are very happy the state invested in the report, and only hope it causes positive relentless action to be taken on behalf of the schools, because they need the help !!

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