TROY — State Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) hosted a town hall last night in Troy exploring education funding in the state of Michigan. The event included a panel discussion with business leaders and industry experts about how strong public schools lead to a stronger economy in our communities.

“The foundation for success – for both individuals and communities as a whole – is a world-class education,” Kuppa said. “It’s imperative to invest in our children, so they have a brighter future and we grow our economy. Education cuts don’t heal, and we’ve been taking from school aid funds to fix other budget gaps. If we truly want to begin moving Michigan forward and building a stronger, more durable economy in the state, we need to start by properly funding our schools.”

Numerous studies have highlighted the growing chasm between what is needed in our classrooms and what is actually allotted. According to a Michigan State University report released in January, adjusted for inflation, the total revenue for Michigan schools declined 30 percent from 2002 to 2015. Today, students in our state rank near the bottom for math and reading proficiency growth largely due to this lack of adequate per-pupil funding. Now, leaders from education, business and the nonprofit world have all come together to begin working to address the needs of equitable funding with the goal of ensuring our children are ready for 21st century jobs.

Kuppa was joined by a panel of experts including Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation; Rob Fowler of the Small Business Association of Michigan; Rick Joseph, 2016 Michigan Teacher of the Year and Doug Maibach, Executive Vice President at Barton Malow. Topics discussed included the type of education that is critical to economic opportunity, the difference between equity and equality in education, the School Finance Research Collaborative which served as the impetus for the Launch Michigan initiative, and how the Governor’s values-based budget proposal is a small step towards achieving adequate and fair funding for Michigan’s public schools.