A day meant to celebrate higher learning was injected with the politics of K-12 public education on Saturday, as a mass of protesters rallied outside the University of Michigan’s commencement celebration.
Governor Rick Snyder’s speech to graduates and their families drew protesters to Ann Arbor, where they picketed passionately against the state’s pending budget cuts to public education.
Snyder, a Tea Party-backed Republican elected in November, has proposed moving funds from the state’s K-12 fund to support $1.8 billion in business-friendly tax cuts. Combined with a directive for school districts to fund more of their teachers’ pensions themselves, the cuts would amount to $715 per student. His budget also calls for teachers to pay more for their health benefits, makes it more difficult for new educators to receive tenure, and makes it easier for administrators to fire them.