The TCAPS position on the Student Finance Research Collaborative is that it’s bad. Sue Kelly and gone-but-not-forgotten former superintendent Paul Soma say that the SFRC is bad because it gives extra funding for certain categories of students like English language learners and students in poverty. The SFRC also calls for extra funding for special needs students.
Does TCAPS have a point?
No. They don’t have a point. The headline was just to get your attention.
In fact, there are some legal issues with the TCAPS position that all students should get the same funding regardless of who they are or what their needs are.
The legal issue is Durant v. State Department of Education. The case is a Michigan Court of Appeals case. The case says that the State of Michigan must reimburse local districts for the costs of special education. The court said that it’s unconstitutional for the state not to reimburse these costs. The Durant court said that the State of Michigan must reimburse 28.6% of special education costs and 70.4% of special education transportation costs, on top of and in addition to the base funding allowance that all students get.
To follow the Kelly/Soma/TCAPS logic, if special needs kids have to be reimbursed at a cost of 28.6% of the actual costs on top of per pupil funding, and per Kelly/Soma/TCAPS, every student must be funded the same for things to be fair, all students must be funded at a rate of 128.6% of the actual cost of educating the most special needs student in the entire State of Michigan. In other words, Kelly/Soma/TCAPS wants big windfalls that aren’t needed to educate students and which would raise taxes proportionally for everyone. What would she plan to do with your tax dollars? Billiards and ping pong coming to Boardman Conference Room A?
Some Michigan schools help extraordinarily challenged students to work towards independence skills. These schools often serve adults ages 18-26. The costs for these students are often several times more than the average spent on a child in a traditional school. And they’re often run by the ISD, rather than the local school district (so maybe the money wouldn’t trickle down to the district, and that’s the Kelly/Soma/TCAPS issue?). TBAISD has such a program. So Sue Kelly wants extra tens of thousands of dollars per student per year, no questions asked, just because of a very small number of students with highly intensive special needs? When the SFRC says it only costs about $9,500 to educate a student? No wonder Sue Kelly and the SFRC don’t get along.
Ultimately, this money comes from somewhere. It’s going to be your tax dollars, for Sue Kelly to spend on who knows what.
(The other side of this argument is that perhaps Sue Kelly doesn’t think that special needs kids need extra money? And that’s why she thinks all students should get the same?)
does school funding have to be equal between school districts?
No. The U.S. Supreme Court case San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez ruled that school funding does not have to be equal between school districts. The opinion said that equal protection doesn’t necessarily mean exactly equal. It’s not unless the school funding scheme is so irrational that it’s “invidiously discriminatory” that there’s a problem constitutionally. The Texas case was decided on local property tax funding for schools, which varied. The Texas constitution calls for free education, but the U.S. Supreme Court said that funding between students doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly equal in order to be fair.
tcaps and the sfrc
TCAPS is the district responsible for student count fraud and a bailout to cover it up from a guy currently charged with extortion. Plus, Sue Kelly and the TCAPS board still haven’t explained what happened to Ann Cardon. So methinks you shot your credibility a long time ago on pretty much every funding issue ever. And the Kelly/Soma/TCAPS position isn’t even workable under state and federal laws and court cases. How much longer are they going to keep blowing smoke through the whole State of Michigan?
By the way, we’re still waiting for that list of other districts who agree with you. (If TCAPS is George W. Bush defending the Iraq war, who is our Poland? If you get that joke, please let me know in the comments.)