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Collaboration calling on lawmakers for more education dollars

A statewide group launched a campaign Thursday demanding state lawmakers invest more money in public education.

Victoria Kovari is the lead organizer at the Michigan Organizing Collaborative. It’s a network of faith-based, community and labor leaders. Kovari says they want lawmakers to significantly reverse the trend of education cuts in Michigan over the past decade.

“This is a statewide problem. It affects rich and poor districts, city and suburban and rural districts all across the state. And it affects the lives of real people; young people and parents and teachers,” Kovari said.

The collaborative is asking people to sign an online petitionto lawmakers. She hopes the request will make a difference as lawmakers craft the state budget over the next few months.

Non-profit community and faith-based organizations from Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Ann Arbor held press conferences today to highlight the petition.

Jeremy DeRoo is a co-executive director of LINC, a non-profit group that works to revitalize neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. DeRoo says having a good public school district has an immediate effect on creating good neighborhoods. And over time, he says, helps drive economic conditions by creating a bigger talent pool for companies to chose from.

“We’ve seen parents really stepping up and increasing their involvement in schools, increasing involvement in their communities. We’ve seen Grand Rapids Public Schools doing everything they can. And we’re just not seeing that same commitment at the state level right now,” DeRoo said.

Though Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed budget increases education funding slightly, Kovari says it’s not even close to enough. In fact many districts, like Grand Rapids Public Schools, would actually get less money under the governor’s plan.

The group hopes to influence lawmakers to adopt a budget with more education money.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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