February of this year, a 16-member gubernatorial commission, known as the 21st Century Education Commission, completed and presented to Governor Rick Snyder a new and comprehensive education report that looks at Michigan's educational status and standards, ranking at 48th in the United States, and provides recommendations and guidelines on how to improve the education of all Michigan students. The report, called "The Best Education System for Michigan's Success: A Blueprint for Educating Michigan's Residents to Build the Best Businesses, Win the Best Jobs, and Achieve the American Dream," begins with a reality – that to succeed in today's world, residents must provide more comprehensive education to our students.
Key highlights of the report emphasize that we must begin earlier, with universal preschool education, and we must continue educating students longer, providing access to two years of community college or trade school for all students, as the economy has changed, and a high school diploma is no longer a ticket to economic prosperity, and by doing so, Michigan itself will prosper. "Since 2009, 99 percent of jobs added to the economy have gone to workers with at least some post-secondary education," the report noted.
The report points out a strong current correlation between state income and education levels. Michigan, which ranks 35th for educational attainment, is ranked 33rd for per-capita income. There are worse results for African American children, and for those living in poverty. Most startling, the report points out that Michigan's higher income and white students are also among some of the worst performing students in the country, ranking 48th. In stark terms, it stated, "This is not the path to prosperity."
The blueprint recommends creating a K-14 education system in Michigan; providing qualified universal access to early education for four-year-olds; determining the developmentally-appropriate readiness of children for kindergarten; focusing on learning to shift towards a students progression through the curriculum at their own pace, rather than at grade levels; provide post-secondary access to community colleges and other skill training to all students; elevating education as a profession; and investing in an efficient and effective system of public funding to become a world leader in education.
The estimated investment to enact the educational changes recommended by the commission is approximately $2 billion by 2025, an approximate 15 percent increase over current costs of public education....continued on page 2