School isn't just a challenge for students anymore; it's a struggle for those who make the budgets and for those who teach, too.
"I think the school community has been very loud about how impossible it is to operate with this level of cuts," Governor Jennifer Granholm tells us.
With schools facing-- at the very least-- nearly $300 in per pupil reductions this year, there's a last-minute shred of hope. It's called "Race To The Top." It's a country-wide stimulus money competition that will require states to reform their education systems if they want to be awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to boost schools.
"This money is helpful because these reforms will be in place soon anyway, why not get money upfront to jumpstart it?" says State Superintendent Mike Flanagan.
Flanagan says the reforms needed for the money are changes that will help fix our broken education system. Some of the reforms would include giving the superintendent authority to intervene in failing schools, creating alternatives for certifying teachers and increasing the number of charter academies in Michigan.
"We are far better off because of these reforms. The money would be icing on the cake, but the legislation is a giant step," Flanagan says.
"I believe these reforms will be part of a permanent change for not just for Michigan, but other states," Governor Granholm says.
The first step in reforming education and getting up to $400 million in federal dollars has already happened; a Senate subcommittee approved reform legislation Tuesday. It could head to the Senate floor this week. And with the application deadline in January, we could be looking at some of the fastest reform in Michigan ever seen.
One of the Governor's spokespeople tells us U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says there's no limit to how many states will be awarded the money; it's all about exhibiting true commitment to reforming education.