'Star Power' Education Rally Hits State Capitol 5-19-2011 - WNEM TV 5

'Star Power' Education Rally Hits State Capitol 5-19-2011

Leaders of the Republican-led Michigan Legislature and GOP Gov. Rick Snyder have announced a budget deal that would reduce proposed cuts to public schools by as much as two-thirds.
Snyder's original budget plan called for a cut of $300 per pupil for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The deal announced Thursday would give districts back $100 per pupil to help pay employee retirement costs, plus another $100 per pupil if a district adopts what officials call "best financial practices."
Officials announced the agreement Thursday afternoon, saying some details remain to be completed. Lawmakers likely will vote on the tentative deal later this month.
School funding cuts may be the toughest pieces for lawmakers to approve. Earlier versions of school aid budget plans narrowly passed the Legislature.
Meanwhile, several buses loaded with Mid-Michigan residents concerned over the cuts to education headed to Lansing to attend the Star Power rally, a state-wide event to urge lawmakers to continue support and funding for early childhood education.
Georgie Poprave, of Midland, said early childhood programs are the reason kids thrive. So she boarded a bus with her three children bound for Lansing on Thursday morning for the fifth-annual Star Power rally.
“I feel that it's important for my children to be a part of this, and for myself to be a part of this so we can express the importance of investing in early childhood,” said Poprave. “It's the first step, to having positive social and emotional adults, so I feel that's why it's important to express the issues.”
About 150 people from Bay, Saginaw, Arenac and Midland counties attended the rally. They were meeting up with thousands of other people from across the state.
“Our goal as Great Start Collaboratives and parent coalitions is to make sure children are safe, healthy and ready to enter successfully into kindergarten,” said Erin Lauderbach, with the Midland County Great Start Collaborative.
Supporters said they rally for these programs so the futures of Michigan’s children will be bright.
“Research shows that when children are ready to be learning in kindergarten, they're more likely to graduate from high school, are less likely to need special education intervention services, and more likely to have jobs after high school or go on to get four-year degrees or trades programs,” said Lauderbach.
Last year, the Star Power event drew about 3,000 people to the state Capitol.
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