Teach Plus applauds Michigan’s School Aid Budget that supports students living in poverty and English learners

Teach Plus applauds Michigan’s School Aid Budget that supports students living in poverty and English learners


Lansing, Michigan, June 28, 2024—Teach Plus Michigan issued this statement following the finalization of the FY24-25 School Aid Budget:

Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders commend the efforts of the Michigan legislature to prioritize students furthest from opportunity in the latest School Aid Budget. Despite less overall revenue, lawmakers agreed to an $83 million increase to the state’s Opportunity Index, which directs state funds to students living in concentrated poverty. Teach Plus teacher leaders advocated for more support for “at-risk” students through the Opportunity Index, and are pleased to see progress in this area.

“Through the $83 million increase to the Opportunity Index, the students I serve will now have greater access to critical supports like full-time social workers and targeted instructional support programs,” said Kelsey Wiley, a 2023-2024 Teach Plus Michigan Senior Policy Fellow and high school English teacher at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. “To build on this progress, we encourage lawmakers to fully fund the Opportunity Index over the next five years and to ensure greater transparency and community involvement in deciding how those funds are spent.”

The new state budget also includes a 26% increase in funding for English learners, another priority of Teach Plus teacher leaders. Furthermore, state lawmakers made critical investments in early literacy through an $87 million budget increase, and are encouraging higher Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates through grant opportunities.

“This budget represents progress for students and teachers in key areas of our education system, including equitable school funding, early literacy, and the ability of students to access postsecondary financial aid,” said Teach Plus Michigan Executive Director Ben Locke. “Taken together, these investments will help ensure that Michigan’s students can access the resources they need to succeed academically and pursue their dreams in high school and beyond.”

In addition to robust investments, students in Michigan also need a diverse, effective teaching force to support them in every stage of their learning. “The legislature did not address recruiting and retaining diverse educators, a must and a missed opportunity,” said Mr. Locke.

Teach Plus and Teach Plus teacher leaders look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on bills that will support the investments made in the most recent budget. For example, Senate Bills 567 and 568, which would screen students for characteristics of dyslexia, and provide evidence-based support to identified students and better teacher training, are critical to ensuring that every Michigan student is prepared for academic and life success.

“It is essential that we pass bill Senate Bills 567 and 568 to ensure all teachers have access to pre-service teacher training that equips them to teach all students how to decode and comprehend text,” said Shannon Theis, a 2023-2024 Teach Plus Michigan Policy Fellow and 3rd grade Spanish Immersion Teacher at Ada Vista Elementary School in Ada, Michigan. “If teachers learn and practice scientifically-based reading instruction, teachers like me will be able to confidently support their students.”

The new School Aid Budget also requires school districts that receive grant money to support student FAFSA completion efforts to make filling out the form a high school graduation requirement, with significant opt-out and exemption provisions. This mirrors language in Senate Bill 463, which Teach Plus teacher leaders have also advocated for. We look forward to lawmakers voting on these bills when they return to session in the fall.

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. In pursuing this mission, Teach Plus is guided by the Student Opportunity Mandate: All students should have the opportunity to achieve their potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for postsecondary success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students. teachplus.org/mi