STATE STILL IN DUNCE CAP: Proposal A Seen Academic Failure as Changes Loom
Tax Shift of 25 Years Ago Said Culprit in Workforce Inadequacies
Proposal A, that promised big school changes.
So far the changes are going in the wrong direction.
"Michigan's public school system is at a crossroads," writes David Arsen of Michigan State University in the foreword to a recent report on state education policy.
It is not performing well. In contrast to 1993, -- about the time school finance structure was shifted from local districts to state funding under Proposal A and more academic and regulatory was shifted to state control.
So far the plan gets a C- at best, according to Dr. Arsen and other education policy makers. Arsen writes: "Michigan student's grades for student performance now fall well below the national average. These unsatisfactory educational outcomes now constitute the primary catalyst for changes in funding policy."
However, the apple of Michigan education seems likely to be shined -- if new impetus as promised finance shifts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are embraced by legislators.
Michigan students have been falling behind steadily in the past quarter century since passage of Proposal A.
However, one long-neglected area of education -- migrants -- is seeing a revitalization that has the promise of bolstering the workforce.
As Michigan weather begins to warm, flowers begin to bloom, and our vast array of fruits and vegetables begin to grow, thousands of migrant farmworkers begin to make their long trek from Texas, Florida, and other southern states to Michigan to work in our state's second largest industry - agriculture.
TIA employs 16 migrant service worker (MSW) staff, nine of which are permanent and seven of which are seasonal. The MSWs spend the majority of their time out at farms, visiting migrant worker families, farmers, and coordinating outreach services with partner agencies.
One of those workers is Sandy Jimenez. Growing up in a family that did agriculture work, Jimenez said she wanted a career that alleviated some of the barriers that her parents faced.
"Having come from a migrant family, and working in the fields, I understand hardships, workload, and fear of being a migrant or seasonal worker," Jimenez said. "I understand the long work hours under the blazing sun, rain, or even snow, to have a good meal at our table. Being able to assist them with jobs, food, clothing, and other resources, is the best part of my work. I enjoy meeting new families and being able to see the gratitude and smiles that come from each of them. Those relationships, and bonds, with families, are what make my job worth it. I may not be able to help everyone but knowing that we make a difference with some is worth it all!"
During the winter months, Sandy Jimenez, TIA migrant service worker, worked with Love Inc., located in Pullman, MI, to establish a new partnership. Through this partnership, Jimenez has been able to coordinate the delivery of food and clothing items to nearly 60 families from several areas in Berrien, Cass, and Allegan counties.
"Love Inc. is one of the many partner agencies we collaborate with to provide services for farmworkers," Jimenez said. "Martha Cerda, director of Love Inc., reached out to us with donations they wanted to distribute to families in need. Migrant workers sometimes visit Love Inc. for assistance such as food, clothing, and baby needs, just to name a few. It is very important for us as an agency, to have connections with different types of organizations like Love Inc. that impact the lives of so many.""br>
Jimenez was driving home from work one day recently and noticed a group of farmworkers in a nearby field. She stopped and see if there was any way she could be helpful to them. The told her they needed food, clothing and other various supplies. Jimenez contacted Love Inc. to see how they could help, and they were able to quickly deliver a truckload of supplies to the migrant workers.
"The reaction of the farmworkers was priceless," Jimenez said. "Each one of the workers were very thankful. When we have a family in need, we do our best to provide that family the resources that they are seeking. Sometimes, that may be going beyond what we personally are able to do. It takes teamwork, and cooperating agencies like Love Inc., to come together and make a difference."
Jimenez underscored that the work all of TIA's migrant service workers do is very important, as it makes the farmworkers aware of the many services available to them.
"Being able to assist families with their needs builds trust and that is one of the big reasons they come back to Michigan to work every year," Jimenez said. "We want them to feel welcome in our great state so we can maintain a high level of the unique talents they possess. The work that all of my coworkers and I do has such a great impact no only to the state, but to every individual we assist."
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at email@example.com)
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