Tag Archives: educationinmichigan

A Successful K-12 Educational Journey: Key to Michigan’s Future

On any journey it is important to have a destination.  In fact, if you look at the definition below: “traveling from one place to another” either realistically or metaphorically is core to the meaning of “journey”.

In Michigan, in 2012, what should be the desired journey for all our school children?

My plea is that we all focus on ensuring that our schools promote the growth of each and every student across all classes of income in every corner of the state!!!!

I suggest that this is the preferred educational destination for all of the efforts across the state.

All children have potential. Each girl and boy currently in and/or coming into Michigan’s schools deserves to be met by a system of capable and committed people that each child’s their potential into positive learning outcomes!

Michigan’s future can be bright.  We have many assets.  We need to insure that the academic potential of each child across the state is nurtured and developed.  This is both imperative for each individual child and for this state.  The state will reach its potential as our young people reach theirs.

A successful K-12 educational journey is important for each student and a key ingredient of a prosperous Michigan.

 Definition of JOURNEY from Merriam Webster online

1: an act or instance of traveling from one place to another: trip

2chiefly dialect : a day’s travel

3: something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another <the journey from youth to maturity> <a journey through time>


When Michigan kids don’t learn to read it hurts them and everyone else

Here in Michigan we have challenges related to all kids learning to read. According to last year’s KIDS Count report, “Michigan is moving in the wrong direction.”  We need to focus on making sure more of our children can read proficiently by the end of third grade, and we need to make sure our kids have what they need to get there.

Among findings in the report:

• 70 percent of Michigan’s public school fourth-graders weren’t proficient in reading,

compared with 68 percent nationally.

• 91 percent of Michigan’s African American fourth-graders weren‘t proficient, compared

with 64 percent of white fourth-graders.

• Only 15 percent of the state’s fourth-graders in low-income families were proficient,

compared with 40 percent in higher-income families, a gap of 25 percentage points.

From the KIDS COUNT report: Young students need help – Michigan ranks below average for reading skills

May 18, 2010 KIDS COUNTin Michigan –  Michigan League for Human Services 

Kids Count in Michigan is a collaboration of the Michigan League for Human Services, a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide advocacy group for low-income families, and Michigan’s Children, a nonprofit voice for children and families in Michigan. It is part of a national effort to measure the well-being of children at state and local levels. The state project is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, The Skillman Foundation of Detroit, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, and the Michigan Association of United Ways.

From my point of view, what we are doing needs to be changed with a clear commitment to achieve results for all students.  If we keep doing things as we have done them, we can’t honestly to get better results. 



All of us in Michigan can help create a brighter future!

Michigan Radio did a year long series of short interviews with people from around Michigan asking them: What three things would you suggest to others to positively impact Michigan’s future?

Here is a partial list of what was suggested:

Buy local

Increase your education- Michigan needs more residents with more than a high school education

Consume local culture (at theaters, museums, book stores, etc) in order to reinvent the culture

Engage the next generation earlier

Take pride in Michigan/remain optimistic about the state

Read 46 more ideas and check out severalof the interviews by clicking here.



Let’s stop and think about what our student’s might truly benefit from

The following five requests are the requests of Nathan Bootz.

“Please give my students three meals a day.

Please give my children access to free health care.

Please provide my school district Internet access and computers.

Please put books in my library.

Please give my students a weight room so they can be big and strong.”

Wouldn’t we want this for all students in Michigan?  Might we think it may be asking too much – even though we know it would make a major difference in each and every learner’s opportunity for success?  Might we wonder if this (to support our young people to such an extent) is the role of society?  Might we just accept that many learners come to school hungry?  That health care is really not a right – but a privilege for those who can afford it? Or, that the Internet, computers and books are not ‘given’ for learners – we all know that some kids and some schools have more than others – and that’s the way it is?

 Thursday May 12, 2011, the Morning Sun published an Opinion Piece written by Ithica Superintendent of Schools Nathan Bootz titled: Make my school a prison, and we’ll get more funding 

 Please click here to read his whole piece.


Image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region via flickr


Early Childhood Education is the Right Thing to Dramatically Ramp Up in Michigan!!!

On average, every $1 invested in high quality early childhood programs saves society $16, and it helps children come to the K-12 system ready to learn and far less likely to have to repeat grades or to drop out of school.  An economic study showed that in 2009, Michigan’s investment in early childhood programs saved $1.1 billion in spending on remedial schooling, special education and health care. It has also reduced dropout rates and criminal justice costs.

That’s why Voices for Michigan’s Children is asking Governor Snyder and the state Legislature to hold the line on funding for early childhood programs – as a key strategy in turning around our state’s economy. We’re happy to hear the Governor agrees with that, and his statements about developing a “P-20” mindset – which he describes as Prenatal to age 20 – in state government policy decision making.

This information and more can be found at michiganschildren.org and specifically from the article: Legislative Leaders Learn about Developing Young Brains by Jack Kresnek.



We are a state with many universities and many university graduates and we have room to improve related to having these graduates stay in the state

We Need To Build on Our Strengths

Many young people graduate from the universities here in Michigan, yet many of those graduates leave the state to work elsewhere.  We need to focus on the positive elements graduates want as they choose a place to settle.

Do you think graduates might want to be in a state with:

a positive bright future?  many jobs to choose from?  a strong and inviting culture?  beauty and a healthy environment?  great opportunities for their potential children to receive a quality education?

Michigan can be all of these things and more.  And to have that happen, all of us will need to be willing to work toward the common good – not just the good for a few.  

Michigan ranks respectably (12th) on sheer number of knowledge economy jobs and establishments. However, the growth of the knowledge economy is not keeping pace with the rest of the country.

After California and Delaware, Michigan had the smallest growth in knowledge economy establishments, and the state witnessed the largest decrease in knowledge economy employment over the same time period. Read more at: http://www.thecenterformichigan.com/economic-transformation/ 

It is not just about keeping college graduates.  The following report is a  vision of Michigan’s new era of prosperity 10,000 voices blend into one urgent chorus for Michigan’s future. The report below details a long-term vision and concrete action plan for our state’s ascent to a new era of prosperity.



You may be able to put off buying a new car, but Michigan only gets one chance at properly educating a child.


Jack Lessenberry wrote a piece for Michigan Radio about school finance in Michigan and he interviewed Mike Simeck, the Berkley School District Superintendent. It is worth the read.

Like many of those that know that k-12 education has been and is  taking a bigger than fair hit, Mike has issues with Governor Snyder’s budget proposal.  The facts are that under the Executive Budget Recommendation, the School Aid budget takes the largest dollar amount cut of any state budget at roughly $1 billion. This is almost FIVE TIMES the dollar loss taken in any other budget. 

While most citizens might agree in principle with the “shared sacrifice” model proposed by our governor, the current raid on the School Aid Fund will unfairly burden school districts and will harm their ability to educate children well. This raid constitutes a broken promise to Michigan voters who gave up the right through Proposal A to raise local funds to support their schools.

The current political climate can make issues regarding school funding even more clouded.  If you are interested, please read the interview with Mike Simeck and study the facts under the Executive Budget Recommendations and review the shared sacrifice information.  Raise questions with your legislators.  

Mark Nixon, Governor Rick Snyder’s Budget Chief, is saying that Michigan has to make these cuts in state government so Michigan will be the kind of state that will appeal to young people starting their work life.  I beg to differ.  To reframe and re-ask the question Mike Simeck posed; What data does Mark Nixon have supporting this claim?  Even if Nixon and Snyder don’t want to answer that question – maybe that could answer any or all of these: After the schools absorb the current proposed cuts, why would people want to send their kids to schools that have endured 3, 4, 5 or more years of cuts?  How can these additional cuts be good for kids, families, communities or the state?  What is your plan (assuming that these proposed cuts are not a part of a positive plan for schools) for improving student outcomes?