How Should Michigan Reopen Schools?
The debate is heating up across Michigan about reopening schools. Like most other issues surrounding the OVID-19 virus outbreak, there are few who don’t have pointed opinions. Three groups stand out among the most vocal. Parents, teachers, and politicians. All say they have the big picture in mind. But few will refute they also have their own agenda based on personal beliefs, experience, and needs.
Now there’s another factor that may come into play. Majority Republicans in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate are debating whether to advance revised school funding legislation. The plan calls for no state education money going to schools that refuse to reopen classrooms and instead rely on virtual programs. Some want that enforced for all grades. Others are pushing for a minimum of grades K-5 for in-person learning requirements.
Right away, that puts some of the state’s largest districts in the crosshairs. Districts like Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Lansing have already decided. No in-person classes at least to start the school year. Here in Battle Creek, grades 6-12 may be set up for virtual classes only to begin the school year with grades K-5 going to classes as before. State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey says legislative negotiators have tried to work with Governor Gretchen Whitmer on the idea. But the Governor is now saying no deal. She won’t agree to withhold funding from districts that refuse to reopen classrooms. The governor has warned the spread of the virus may force her to close more businesses and order schools to only allow for virtual learning programs this fall. Many school district administrators have delayed announcing their plans, waiting for the politicians to figure out what will be allowed or recommended.