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Defining public education

• Aug 8, 2017 at 5:00 PM

How would you define “public education”?

According to a blogger for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, that’s not easy to do in Michigan.

In a post on the center’s blog, Ben DeGrow noted that hundreds of demonstrators on July 22 called for more school funding, rallying under the banner of the March for Public Education, a coordinated national effort in at least 16 cities.

“Yet the very appearance of this group raises thorny questions about what qualifies as public education and how to distinguish it from other types of learning,” DeGrow wrote. “The group’s own definition of ‘public education’ clearly misses the mark.”

“Public schools are schools that receive federal funding towards their operation,” DeGrow quoted the March for Public Education’s founders. “This includes the traditional neighborhood public school as well as not-for-profit charter schools.”

“Yet public schools universally work with profit-making entities to advance their work, just in different degrees,” according to DeGrow. “About 70 percent of conventional school districts contract with private vendors for major non-instructional services, and all districts purchase books and other instructional materials from for-profit entities.”

DeGrow says making federal funds a litmus test produces some unusual results. Last year, he noted, Michigan’s tiny Bangor Township school district received no federal dollars, yet didn’t lose its public school status.

Read the complete post: “‘Public Education’ Not Easy to Define.”

The opinions expressed by bloggers are not necessarily shared by the Grand Haven Tribune or its employees. They are the sole opinion of the bloggers, who are not employed by or compensated by the Tribune.

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