Wishful thinking is failing Michigan’s students – we need action. We can’t let another 12 months go by with record-high spending at the K-12 level and achieving record-low outcomes.
Continually pouring more water into a flowerpot but never checking to see if the plant needs sunlight, food, or is actually blooming, is what we’re seeing play out in Michigan’s public schools. And this lack of foresight is impacting more than just our students, who deserve better, it’s impacting our economy altogether.
In this new year, Michigan’s legislature needs to make a resolution it can keep. Michigan doesn’t need new legislation but just to implement quality and accountability measure’s they’ve already passed. They need to measure results and be dedicated to fixing what’s failing in our schools. Education is a top priority for the West Michigan Policy Forum, and it’s necessary for Michigan to be a top 10 state.
Michigan’s spending on K-12 schools has been rising while performance for our kids has been falling. Our state spent over $88.4 billion in school aid over the last four years, and all we have to show for it is continuously declining performance. It’s clear now: we don’t need more, we need better.
Key priorities are that we need to implement processes and policies that are proven to drive long-term success, like A-F grading and school of choice, which have reformed K-12 education in other states like Florida. We need these systems so that we can measure school and student performance and identify where they need support. We need to help close the gap in education equity by giving students and parents the freedom to choose without boundaries.
They’re crying for help – it’s in the data. Our state ranks 32 in the nation in K-12 education, and student performance in core subjects of math, reading, and social studies continue to drop at concerning rates. Reports from the Michigan Department of Education shows that since the previous school year:
- 112 of Michigan’s K-12 schools received low-achieving marks.
- 255 schools have a 67% or lower graduation rate, that’s 93 more schools than last year.
- Student groups performing in the bottom 25% of their school have more than doubled, from 63 to 138.
- Schools with one or more student groups performing in the bottom 25% increased from 60 to 68.
If we want our economy to thrive, we must invest in its future: our students. We need to make it clear to our lawmakers: we need change that’s going to drive success for our students and our economy. And this year, with Michigan’s new legislative line-up, we need to be louder than ever.
Call your legislators, email them, tweet them; tell them we can’t accept failure for our students anymore. Tell them to defend our future with the right legislation. Tell them to make this year count for us, not against us.