Ann Arbor found to be much better than Ypsi at educating students in poverty?

Given that the Washtenaw International Baccalaureate High School in Ypsilanti recently finished second in statewide ACT rankings, beating out all of the awesome schools in Ann Arbor, I wasn’t really surprised to see today’s headline in the Ann Arbor News reaffirming their academic superiority. People need to feel awesome about themselves, and that’s OK. And it’s only natural for neighboring cities to define themselves against one another. With that said, though, I found the whole premise of this article to be incredibly silly.

Of course, Ann Arbor does better than Ypsilanti when it comes to educating poor students. They have substantially more money to spend per-student, given their status as what’s known as a “hold harmless” district. Presently, as I understand it, they supplement their funding to the tune of an additional $2,000 per pupil more than any other school system in the entire County. And that extra $2,000 per student goes a long way toward being able to pay higher teacher and staff salaries, improve facilities, buy textbooks and school supplies, etc. Judging from this headline, though, it just sounds as though Ypsi is failing poor kids because our teachers aren’t working hard enough, and that’s simply not the case.


From MLive:

Ann Arbor Public Schools and Ypsilanti Community Schools may be neighbors, but the side-by-side districts generate different results among students who come from homes in poverty.

Ann Arbor Public does significantly better than Ypsilanti Community Schools when it comes to educating poor students, according to a new report…

For what it’s worth, they do finally get around to mentioning the huge discrepancy in funds made available for the education of students in the two districts, but it doesn’t happen until the 15th paragraph. I doubt, however, most people made it that far.

I should add that I know there’s more to it than just the amount of money spent. I suspect, for instance, that a good number of the students qualifying for free lunches in Ann Arbor are likely the kids of University of Michigan graduate students and the like, whose families are pushing them to excel academically. Furthermore, I know it’s probably a lot easier to raise the test scores of kid in poverty if he or she isn’t in a classroom where a majority of their peers are also coming to school hungry, from chaotic households.

But, yes, I think it’s great that Ann Arbor is so much better than we are in Ypsilanti at educating those in poverty, and I hope this realization brings with it an acceptance of the fact that we need to do a better job of working across districts for the good of these kids, and our community… If Ann Arbor’s awesome at educating the poor, and we’ve got a lot of poor people, I’d say that’s a match made in heaven… Let’s talk merger.

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  1. Posted February 4, 2015 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    It is interesting that your (real or feigned) disdain for Ann Arbor is so deep that you even have to call the town out on its alleged successes.

    I would turn that rage inward. Ypsilanti, compared with Ann Arbor, is failing its students and then ask if Ypsilanti is failing its low income students to a level comparable to other areas of the State.

  2. grumpy
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Mlive’s headline and the general premise of the article are fundamentally dishonest and misleading. This report is not comparing how well school districts are educating their poor students. It is using the number of students who qualify for free or reduced school lunches as an indicator of expected outcome and comparing that expectation to the district’s overall grade proficiency among all students (based on MEAP scores).

  3. anonymous
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Read the article, Peter. Every time Mark posts something about Ann Arbor you instinctively assume that it’s unfounded and motivated by either anger or insecurity. If you read the piece in question objectively I think you may see it differently.

  4. Posted February 4, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    “With that said, though, I found the whole premise of this article to be incredibly silly.”

    To be fair, it may be true that he is merely criticizing the article.

    However, when I read Mr. Maynard’s posts, I read it in his voice, which influences the way in which I comprehend it. This, for example, sounds like a sarcastic jab when read in Maynard speak:

    “But, yes, I think it’s great that Ann Arbor is so much better than we are in Ypsilanti at educating those in poverty”

  5. Posted February 4, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I do like the idea of a merger. Actually, I am of the opinion that Ann Arbor, Pittsfield and Ypsi should all be merged under a single administration.

  6. EOS
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Has nothing to do with either the teachers or the money the school districts spend. It’s genetic. In general, smart parents produce smart kids. Smart parents pick schools for their kids where their peer group will be above average. The value placed on good grades and the competition among peers causes students to study more and hence, do better on standardized tests. The parents who do whatever it takes to get their kids into schools with predominately high SES families are displaying higher intelligence than those parents who let their kids go to the failing schools in their neighborhood. Parents who are involved and place value on education have the greatest impact on their kids achievement.

  7. idea man
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand these rankings. Are they looking at individual students in poverty, or are they just looking at overall school testing, and then making assumptions based upon the percentage of kids within that school who receive free lunch? If it’s the latter, I’m not sure how that would work. If you’ve got a school with only 10% of kids getting free lunch, and they do really poorly, but your other 90% test extremely well, wouldn’t you finish a lot higher on the “we do a better job of educating children in poverty” index?

  8. John Galt
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I agree with EOS when he says, “It’s genetic.” The children of the poor can never amount to anything and we shouldn’t waste our hard earned tax dollars in social experiments trying to prove otherwise. Our money should be spent on the children of the well-off. The poor should be sent to labor camps at the age of five.

  9. Posted February 4, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    It’s a pretty stupid headline and an oddly self-congratulatory article to be sure. But it’s also basically true. Ypsilanti schools aren’t doing as well at educating all all of their students as Ann Arbor, and for all kinds of reasons, including the differences in rates of poverty (even though the article suggests this was compensated for in the study, I think that’s still a factor) and the differences in the “school of choice” issue. And remember, the IB school is not in the Ypsi school district.

    I wish I knew the solution, but it also seems to be a problem that compounds itself. The schools have a bad rep, so people move away from the district/use school of choice options to get out of it; that means there are fewer students (both in terms of students who have involved parents and in terms of sheer numbers), which huts district funding all the more, which makes the schools worse. Rinse and repeat.

  10. EOS
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    John Galt,
    If you are poor and of lower intelligence, you keep your kids in Ypsi or Lincoln schools. If you are poor and of higher intelligence, you find a way to get your kids into a better learning environment, e.g. Ann Arbor, WTC, homeschool, etc. It’s not dependent on being poor, but of lacking sufficient intelligence. There is no amount of education that is able to eliminate differences in innate ability.

  11. grumpy
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    @idea man, yes the report is looking at overall testing results and basically using the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch like a golf handicap. Your suggestion is absolutely correct. A school could be getting a favorable adjustment in these rankings by the presence of kids getting reduced lunch while none of those students are testing at grade level.

    The stated goal of the report is “Achievement Exceeding Predicted Proficiency (AEPP) is designed to compare student proficiency on standardized tests at the school and district level, across grades, and over time, controlling for socioeconomic status.” The mlive article is completely incorrect in describing this as “Ann Arbor Public does significantly better than Ypsilanti Community Schools when it comes to educating poor students, according to a new report.”

    Also, the threshold for reduced lunches is pretty high at 185% of poverty level (around $44,000 for a family of four) so there are significant income disparities within that group.

    On the other hand, the numbers for YCS are indeed abysmal, especially in math and science where the percentage of students proficient at grade level are in the single digits.

  12. J.E.
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Ypsi doesn’t even have segway ambassadors in school hallways, helping the students find their next classroom, handing out bottled water, and opening the door of opportunity. It’s no wonder.

  13. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    There is no necessary connection between poverty and a lacking in a desire to excel in academics. The key is to want to excel and to have parents that want it for their children. Genetics defines our ceiling to a great extent but there are not good reasons for children within a normal range of intelligence to fail in school. Who is to blame for academic failure? The article title is annoying because Ann Arbor seems to be patting itself on the back but is the article false? I don’t think so. Mark’s response seems to provide more space for more excuses…Excuses are part of the problem.

  14. Dan Blakeney
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Damn it! The Ann Arbor News/MLive can’t conceive a self congratulatory Headline and Lead without slapping Ypsilanti? “Ann Arbor Schools Best at Educating lower income Students,” isn’t sufficient? Bloody Hell!

  15. grumpy
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    This report does not provide any information about how good Ann Arbor is at educating lower income students!

  16. Dylan
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Merger would be a great solution. However, the fake liberals of A2 would likely play the conservative argument about the have-nots dragging down the haves.

  17. grumpy
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree that a merger would be beneficial and that Ann Arbor is not interested in considering that. Maybe it’s not that insidious, but the article strikes me as dangerous doublespeak. AAPS has no experience serving a body of students with the socioeconomic profile of YCS. What the report is really showing is that Ann Arbor is doing almost significantly better than average for school districts in Michigan with similar socioeconomic profiles. Ypsilanti is somewhat below average for its completely separate group of districts. Those two points don’t necessarily have that much to do with each other. I don’t think that magically switching all of the AAPS and YCS facilities, teachers, administrators and per-pupil funding would result in all of the problems of Ypsilanti schools being suddenly solved. Ann Arbor Public Schools deserve to be celebrated for excelling at educating their own population of students, but this data isn’t really saying much of anything about how good they are at “educating students in poverty” and nothing about how good they are at educating predominantly poor student populations.

  18. jcp2
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    The 2014-2015 per pupil foundation grant for AAPS is $9100, for which AAPS levies an additional local millage of 4.4442, an exception granted to it historically through Proposal A. The 2014-2015 per pupil foundation grant for YCS is $7613. YCS does not have the ability to levy an additional local millage because of Proposal A. The difference between the two is not $2000, but $1487.

    We can use the failed annexation of Whitmore Lake PS by AAPS as a financial model. There were 16449 students in AAPS in 2013-2014, for total foundation revenue of $149,685,900. There were 4148 students in YCS in 2013-2014, for total foundation revenue of $31,578,724. If we were to combine the two districts, we would have total foundation revenue of $181,264,624 for 20,597 students. The per pupil foundation grant allowance would be $8,800. Students formerly in AAPS would see a loss of $300/student. Students formerly in YCS would see a gain of $1187/student.

    There are several interesting points that come to mind. If the purpose of the combined district is to allow an increase in per pupil foundation grant foundation for former YCS students, then this cannot be a merger. It must be an annexation of YCS by AAPS, as only AAPS has the right to levy an additional hold harmless educational millage under Proposal A. Voters in the former YCS district must be willing to vote in the additional millage, which is 4.4442 mills on top of their current taxes. That millage is already being paid by current AAPS district residents, and would be unchanged.

    We can look to the proposed Dexter-Whitmore Lake annexation as well. If the proposed annexation of YCS by AAPS does not result in any assumption of former YCS debt by the AAPS, and no additional tax moneys are to be paid by current AAPS district residents, then only a vote of the board of AAPS is required to approve the annexation from the AAPS side. No vote is mandated for AAPS district residents, although one is likely to happen in one form or another, whether it be referendum, recall, or complete removal of the board is the decision is made without AAPS constituent input.

    In summary:

    1. Have AAPS propose annexation of YCS, giving up Ypsilanti name in identity.
    2. Have YCS district residents approve an increase in taxes of 4.4442 mills
    3. Have AAPS board members vote for annexation without consulting AAPS district residents
    4. Fix family educational motivation by …..
    5. Increase YCS classroom proportion of students from stable families by ….
    6. Profit.

  19. EOS
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    How does Ann Arbor profit from a merger?

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I having been trying to make sense of Mark’s statement: “Of course Ann Arbor Does better than Ypsilanti at educating poor students. They have substantially more money to spend per pupil given Ann Arbor’s status as a hold harmless district”. I do not fully understand the term “hold harmless district”. I have been trying to figure it out for the last half hour. According to what I have discovered hold harmless districts have had less increases in funding than non hold harmless districts and that hold harmless districts are actually subsidizing non hold harmless districts….And that Ann Arbor became a hold harmless district as a result of historically strong support via self imposed taxes prior to proposition A….I am not pretending to know the full story of Ann Arbor as a hold harmless district but I was wondering if someone that knows could shed some light on the “hold harmless” distinction and how Mark’s statement might make sense.

  21. EOS
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Because Ann Arbor had historically strong school support because of self imposed taxes prior to Prop A, they are allowed to continue to impose a millage that collects more than the state allowed maximum for their district funding. They are allowed to continue funding the school district at the level they had when Prop A was passed. Prop A changed the way school districts were funded by providing state funds to replace what was formerly derived from local property taxes. Ann Arbor gets less state funding, but is allowed to fund their schools at a higher per pupil amounts. Ypsilanti, which had a level of funding less than the state allowed maximum, gets all of its funds from the state, but is not allowed to raise its taxes to provide additional school funding more than 5% or the rate of inflation – whichever is less. (With the exception of new building construction and technology millages)

    Mark’s comments show that he thinks higher taxes are desirable. If Ann Arbor annexes Ypsilanti, then Ypsilanti would be able to increase the taxes levied on their residents in order to have more school funding. I think it is fair to assume that he feels that the educational outcome in Ypsilanti would improve if the district were able to collect an additional $2000 per student.

  22. EOS
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    All of the school funding does not come from the state. Local districts can levy an 18 mill tax. Before Prop A, rich districts spent about 3 times the amount that poor districts did. Now it is more like double. The state has a complicated formula to determine the portion they contribute to each district.

  23. Jcp2
    Posted February 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    The 18 mill tax applies only to non homestead properties. The hold harmless millage is renewed by ballot approval every ten years. Each hold harmless district has a different maximum millage rate, as determined by their self funding levels prior to Proposal A. Without the assurance of these millages, Proposal A likely would not have passed.

  24. EOS
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Also, if Ypsilanti were annexed by Ann Arbor, the millage rate could not exceed the rate in Ann Arbor. Because of the substantially lower assessments in Ypsi, Ann Arbor would pay a disproportionate amount for school funding. Mark, and others on this site, consistently propose collaborations that are favorable to Ypsi at the expense of another community.

  25. EOS
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Jcp2 makes an important distinction. If there were a merger, the increase in taxes would be paid only by businesses and landlords, not the typical homeowner in Ypsi.

  26. jcp2
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Each school district must, by law, levy 18 mill operating millage, which homestead residences are exempt from. The only millage that would increase with an annexation is the 4.4442 hold harmless millage to properties in YCS. Properties in AAPS are already paying this millage. There’s a very good presentation on school funding at this link.

  27. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the information on “hold harmless districts”.

    It sounds like, in terms of revenue, proposition A is a good thing for Ypsilanti and a bad thing for Ann Arbor. Of course that is assuming that residents of Ypsilanti would have continued to follow their trend of failing to pass self imposed taxes for schools. Is there any evidence that Ypsilanti would pass a self imposed tax for schools if they had the option as a hold harmless district? There is always the option of individuals just writing a check to the Ypsilanti Public Schools if they feel so strongly that there is a causal link between money spent and academic outcomes.

  28. Dan
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    “Mark, and others on this site, consistently propose collaborations that are favorable to Ypsi at the expense of another community.”

    Ain’t that the truth. It’s funny how Mark constantly bashes the townships and the city of Ann Arbor, but at the same time asks them to bail out his community.

  29. M.
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I will try to make this simple for you, Dan. In a healthy ecosystem there are people all all income levels, all paying their taxes, all contributing. The successful banker, the janitor at the local school, the hospital billing clerk, and the single mom who works part-time at the dollar store all contribute a potion of what they make to the community in the form of taxes. These taxes pay for schools, street lights, snow plows, public safety officers and other things that we, through our elected representatives, determine to be of value to us. The single mom gets to send her kid to a decent school and the banker gets to live in a stable community where he can continue doing good business. This is what we refer to as sustainable. Now, let’s say we build a wall through a community and raise the rents on one side so that the mom who works part-time, and others living in poverty, can no longer afford to live there. They’re moved to the other side of the wall. Over time, one side becomes very rich, while one side becomes very poor. That’s called segregation. And that, according to the recent affordable housing needs assessment commissioned by the County, is where we are at today in Ypsi-Arbor. And people here aren’t asking Ann Arbor to bail out Ypsilanti. They’re asking that they recognize the fact that we’re linked, and one community cannot continue to export poverty into the other without there being consequences. We need to focus on regional solutions to these problems. That’s all people are saying.

  30. Dan
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Ann Arbor is not exporting poverty at a rate that comes close to the rate that Ypsi is importing it. People dont get forced out of their home in Ann Arbor one day, and live in HUD and Section 8 housing in Ypsi the next.

    Ypsi’s problems are not created by ann arbor. They are created by ypsi. As seen by the absurd move by council to grant the Water Street Flats project a PILOT incentive two days ago. Ypsi seems hell bent on recruiting low and no income residents. Building giant downtown section 8 apartments has nothing to do with Ann Arbor and your accusations of it “exporting poverty.”

  31. EOS
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the info. I learned a lot from your comments.

  32. jcp2
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I’ve examined the specifics of state educational funding more closely, and I believe that the calculation of expected foundation grant money per pupil of a proposed combined district as the weighted average of the two separate districts, is technically incorrect. Although this formula was used by the consultants that advised the AAPS-WLPS annexation proposal, they did not go deeply into how these foundation grants per pupil were initially calculated.

    The correct calculation for taxation is 6 mills state education tax, levied on all property in the district, plus 18 mills non-homestead property tax, plus a variable hold harmless millage if the district was allowed to do so under proposal A. This total collected tax is then divided into the number of students in the district, to get a taxed amount per student. If this number is lower than the state basic amount, then the state makes up the difference from the state educational fund. If this number is higher than the state maximum amount, then there is no contribution from the state and the excess revenues is pooled to support those districts that do not make the state basic amount. If the number is between the basic and maximum amount, then there is no contribution from the state, or distribution back to the state.

    YCS is currently a recipient district. The revenue raised from district property taxes is insufficient to make the state basic foundation grant of $7126/student across about 4150 students. The current grant is higher at $7613/student because of a state incentive given for consolidation of YPS and WRPS.

    AAPS is currently a donor district. The revenue raised from district property taxes is more than sufficient to make the state maximum foundation grant of $8099/student across about 20,600 students. All the excess revenue greater than 8099 X 20,600 goes back to the state educational fund. Maybe a little of it makes it back to YCS in the form of state aid, but most of it will be diluted across all school districts that need state aid to make the basic foundation grant.

    The question to ask is “How much revenue from AAPS gets sent back to the state?” According to this news article , Ann Arbor gets back less than half of what it raises (47%, to be exact). In other words, AAPS raises more than $17,600 per pupil through taxation, but can only use $8,800! The additional money to make it t0 $9,100 is through the additional hold harmless millage. AAPS could double its student count and still have $8,800 per student, even without a hold harmless millage.

    So, why not? Why not annex YCS? The additional students placed into AAPS would not affect the foundation grant. That money would have been lost to the state anyway. That’s not even taking into account the revenue raised within YCS itself. I’d rather see that money used locally where it can have a potential for positive impact for the region. The only stipulation would be that YCS would have to vote and accept the additional hold harmless millage, as I doubt AAPS constituents would accept a drop from $9100 to $8800/student. While we are at it, why not annex other contiguous school districts that are at the basic level, up to the point where the combined tax revenue divided by the number of students within the bigger AAPS is at the state maximum foundation grant. Again, the only stipulation would be that the annexed district accept the additional hold harmless millage.

    Annexation plus a hold harmless millage would give students currently in the YCS district the same per pupil grant as those in the current AAPS district. With the proper leadership, schools in Ypsilanti will improve, and the perception of improvement will make Ypsilanti a more desireable place to live and raise a family, which will increase real estate prices, which will increase the amount of money raised for the schools. Maybe we can reverse the cycle and make it more virtuous. The only downside is that the school district will be called Ann Arbor, and there will be a 4.4442 hold harmless millage. I think this is a decent trade-off.

  33. Lynne
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    There is a LOT we don’t know about education but one thing we do know is that who a students parents are is the strongest factor in predicting academic success. Educated parents end up with successful students. I have personally witnessed this effect among my friends who are into “unschooling”. For those unfamiliar with the practice, it is a home schooling style that pretty much is one where the student’s education is almost entirely self directed. I.e. the kids are kept home from school and allowed to just do what they want all day. Since my friends who do this are all well educated themselves, their kids are all doing well academically. They are all at or above their grade level in reading, math, and the other subjects on the state test. These kids, just in their regular lives, get exposed to much more than your average poor kid does because their parents have the time and inclination to put the children in enriching environments such as museums and libraries.

    Most of the research I have read suggests that the children of the educated will do well no matter where they go to school. As a child of educated parents in Detroit Public Schools, I can confirm that my peers and I all were academically successful.

    This is one of many reasons I don’t like our current system. I don’t like it that we are spending the most money on the students who need it the least. If we are going to insist on segregating students by economic status, I feel that the per student funding for poorer students should be MORE than what richer districts get. And yes, I get it that such a proposal would benefit Ypsilanti at the expense of Ann Arbor. That anyone would begrudge some poor student the extra money disgusts me. We need to stop this Us vs Them and do what is best for ALL students even if it means taking resources currently going to the richest districts and directing it to the poorer districts. Assuming of course that there is a genuine link between money spent and outcomes. I am not entirely sure that is the case but I guess that is another rant.

  34. EOS
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink


    What’s wrong with investing the money where it will have the greatest impact? If a student reads at an elementary school level in high school, how much more money should be spent to improve academic skills? Wouldn’t it be better for all to provide job skills for those who aren’t able to perform academically and provide advanced academic instruction to those who excel? Limiting resources to those who are the most capable in order to dump more money into programs that haven’t achieved educational objectives seems counter productive. Shouldn’t the objective be to provide each student with educational opportunities that allow them to achieve their maximum potential? Our goal should not be to have everyone at the same level, but to have each at their maximal level. Why does this perspective disgust you?

  35. Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Ann Arbor is not exporting poverty to Ypsilanti. That is complete nonsense. Ypsi has been troubled since I’ve been living here since 1988. In fact, I would say that Ypsi is better off now than it was back then.

    I realize it is tempting to blame all of Ypsilanti’s problems on Ann Arbor, but it is a wholly unproductive exercise. It appears a very good way for Ypsilanti residents to deflect responsibilities for their own problems onto someone else.

    Though I rarely agree with Dan, he is correct. Ypsilanti’s problems are Ypsilanti’s and only Ypsilanti people can solve them.

    Further, Ypsi’s problems are really quite basic. New buzzwords like “sustainable development” do not change the very basic problem of Ypsi’s lack of a job creating economy. Places like the Rocket and Beezy’s are great, but not to denigrate them at all, they don’t provide all that many well paying jobs with benefits, at least not enough to support an entire community.

  36. wobblie
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    When I moved to Ypsi in 1981 it was much more a working class town than Ann Arbor. Our local economy was more closely attached to Detroit and big 3 than it was to the Ann Arbor economy. Over time that has changed. Other than Marsh Plating I think all the other auto and parts supplier employers are gone. St. Joe and U of M Hospital expansions were big parts of that change as well. Many more jobs become available at those institutions.

    I don’t believe most of our neighbors who are poor come from Ann Arbor. My experience tells me they mainly come from Detroit. Ypsi looks very good compared to Detroit, though our average income is pretty similar. If you had been trying to get by in Detroit, for most living in Ypsi and commuting to Ann Arbor for work looks pretty good.

  37. kjc
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Yes, Dan’s idea that Ypsi “imports poverty” is not stupid at all. Why anyone would agree with his idiocy I have no idea (except to just take another condescending shot at Ypsi people based on living here for five minutes 25 years ago). Know it all white men. UUUUUUUUUUGH.

    M.’s post was good though.

  38. Lynne
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    EOS, what disgusts me is the attitude of “I don’t want to pay for the poor kids to get educated” which is an entirely different issue than building a system that meets each individual’s needs. I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with spending money where it will have the greatest impact. In fact, that is my suggestion. The gifted kids will do ok no matter what. They probably would even do better with less formal education if the experience of the upper class families who unschool are typical. The area of greatest impact is poor districts.

  39. Lynne
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Peter, I completely disagree with the idea that Ypsilanti’s problems are Ypsilanti’s problems. We don’t live in a vacuum. We live in a state with a tax structure that allows richer people to isolate themselves tax-wise from poorer people (a concept that be extended globally). That is one way that Ann Arbor does hurt Ypsilanti.

    While I don’t like it that we have a system where poverty gets concentrated into certain cities and neighborhoods, I also strongly feel that having programs that help the poor are a good thing even if they do attract poorer people into an area. But the reason they do is that other communities aren’t stepping up and providing services for the poor such as housing and whatnot. The answer isn’t to get Ypsilanti to stop providing services, the answer is to get other places to provide them

  40. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilanti is not in a vacuum. Ypsilanti receives money for their schools from wealthier communities like Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti residents have the advantage of living 10 minutes from one of the better economies in the Midwest. Ann Arbor even offers spots for students living outside the school district to study a tapas! It strikes me that Ypsilantians do not want to take responsibility for their communities failings when Ypsilantians blame Ann Arbor for ALL of the problems that Ypsilanti has.

  41. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink


  42. Dan
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Kjc instead of being your normal miserable self and calling everything you don’t like and agree with idiotic, can you tell us how ypsi has so much poverty and why it keeps building section 8 housing if it is not importing it?

  43. Lynne
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    For what it is worth, I have yet to hear anyone in Ypsilanti blame Ann Arbor for *all* of Ypsilanti’s problems. However, the segregation in our state by socio-economic status is directly related to the differences in the school districts in terms of performance and that really is something we should be talking about.

  44. Lynne
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Dan, do you really think that poor people wouldn’t live in Ypsilanti if we didn’t have section 8 housing? The reason we have a lot of poor people in Ypsilanti is that we have state level policies which encourage concentrations of poverty.

  45. Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    “For what it is worth, I have yet to hear anyone in Ypsilanti blame Ann Arbor for *all* of Ypsilanti’s problems. ”

    Really? Blaming at least most of Ypsi’s problems on Ann Arbor appears to be a constant theme on this site.

  46. EOS
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Or, the poor districts can be a bottomless pit, sucking all the resources for students who are not capable of achieving academic excellence regardless of the amount spent. Intelligent kids do O.K., even in poor schools. Public libraries, internet, schools of choice and a multitude of other resources offer intelligent students who want to learn many opportunities to do so.

  47. Posted February 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Yes, fuck all the poor and stupid kids.

    You are a real piece of work.

  48. Maria Sheler-Edwards
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    This MLive article was based on a report that used data from YPS, prior to the merger. It’s not fair to compare the old YPS district to AAPS. Folks in Ypsi knew we needed a charge. The intention of the merger between YPS and WR wasn’t to combine two failing districts – it was to hit the reset button and improve outcomes for all kids in Ypsi.

    Among many new things, YCS has committed to a five-year program of cultural competency professional development for the staff (a strategy endorsed by the professor who was quoted). YCS also offers health and other social services in some schools, something else mentioned by the professor (although YCS was not acknowledged for implementing these practices).

    I wonder if AAPS annexed YCS how much attention would be given to these practices that are addressing the needs of our student population. AAPS has a wide and persistent achievement gap that even with their increased funding level they don’t seem to be able to close. In some important ways, this conversation is about funding. But there are clearly other factors at play here. Talk of “donor” and “taker” districts in our current system places different values on kids based on their address.

    This leads to a larger question: these achievement and funding gaps aren’t only happening here in Washtenaw Co. Everywhere in Michigan that there is a deep pocket of wealth and high achieving schools, there is a corresponding deep pocket of poverty and lower achieving schools. So should Birmingham schools annex Pontiac schools? Should Grosse Pointe annex DPS? Does that fix everything? I think our lawmakers would do better to address the real issues of persistent poverty and racism, in addition to finding a better way of funding schools across the state.

    Proposal A attempted to do away with winners and losers. But it didn’t go far enough. We need a new funding system that allows for local control and gives districts what they need to educate their own children (including paying their teachers and staff a fair wage). We need to step back and look at the larger picture of what is happening in Michigan and ask ourselves if we’re ok with this system. As it stands, I think we are allowing our most vulnerable citizens – our kids – to be victimized by failed policy.

  49. Dan
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink


    The issue at hand here is that ypsi keeps recruiting the poor. You can’t blame Ann arbor for “exporting poverty” when You continually invite it. The ypsi council and formaer mayor love to recite stats about two thirds of the city qualifying for subsidized housing. Why do you/they think that is a good thing? I’d be mortified if my mayor was bragging about that.

  50. EOS
    Posted February 6, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    The focus on achievement gaps is the problem, not the solution. Holding back the brightest students so that the gap is decreased is indicative of a failed system. In a system where everyone is taught to reach their highest potentials, the gap is the greatest, and the educational levels of the entire population are maximized.

  51. jcp2
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 6:21 am | Permalink


    I agree that annexation, if the formulae I’ve outlined above are correct, is not a panacea. However, it helps mitigate the funding problem for YCS. Those tax dollars were going to a black box anyway, so redistributing it within a larger combined district is a form of increased local control. What is also needed is vision and leadership from the board. If a series of attractive educational programs were to be targeted in the YCS area, then in the short term, we could draw back students who live in district who do not attend school within the district. The STEAM program at Northside is an example of that. That would also help with the funding problem. In the long run, if this is successful, Ypsilanti would be a more desirable place to live and raise a family. More people with choices would choose to live there, property values would increase, and there would be greater economic diversity in the classroom. That is also a positive thing for students accustomed to a very poor classroom.

    The demographics of Michigan, with fewer young people and more older people, are putting a lot of pressure for all government entities to reduce costs. One way is to reduce duplicative work that adds little value. Consolidation is coming, sooner or later. I would rather have time and space to control the process in order to influence the outcome, rather than holding on to the status quo in hopes that somebody else will be looking out for my best interests.

  52. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 7, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but if the website is any indication, then Wihi and the middle school program is building success by creating barriers to entry, for kids who, for whatever reason, do not have the skills and resume yet ready to be huge successes by age 11….LOL….Please do look at Wihi and the middle school website. Pretend you are parent who is interested in going to the school… It appears to be designed specifically to scare off the parents of even average students and to make the parents of average students to feel insecure about their child’s inquisitiveness, IQ, knowledge base, “international mindedness”, etc….Seriously, judging from the website this school is not about lifting people up, it is about exclusionary tactics. Any rebuttals from people familiar with this school are welcome. Admittedly, I only know what I found on the website. It was interesting what was seemingly not there–like info on how to enroll!!!! The student profile section with video is an obvious tactic, which is shamefully obscene. Maybe I am not liberal enough to appreciate a public school that seems to be employing these kind of tactics? Do I have it right that this a public school? Ypsilanti schools are Ann Arbor’s fault, wtf?

  53. Jean Henry
    Posted October 8, 2016 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    AAPS still shows a significant education gap between White and Asian students and students of color or comparing the district average to economically disadvantaged students (

    While the testing gap improves slightly over time in English (Black students by 8th grade performing half as well as white students), the gap increases in math scores. The graduation rates for people of color and the poor have improved, but that does not always mean they are being better educated. It certainly does not show up in test scores. I’m not sure why African American and poor students performing half as well as privileged students qualifies as a success, but it seems the bar has been set very very low.

    Suspension gap data only includes information by race, not economic advantage, but you can see that while school suspensions overall are way down, they are down substantially less for African American students, so the suspension gap actually widened.

    While I’m sure EOS has her own interpretation of why the education and suspension gaps exist (genetics! but that’s not racism!), my feeling is that it’s indicative of persistent bias against students of color at AAPS. They essentially are only fulfilling the school systems very limited expectations of them. A recent student showed the degree of implicit bias against children of color beginning in pre-school.

    I’m not sure why AAPS is patting themselves on the back. I’m really curious to know if they are graduating and passing through under-prepared students. I don’t think it’s a record to take pride in. We all have lots of work to do, and money alone doesn’t solve the issue.

    I haven’t commented here for months, but this post is over a year old so let’s just pretend we’ve gone back in time and anyone cares.

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