3 Lessons We Learned to Support Michigan’s K-12 Students

The State of Education in Michigan, the focus of the 2022 Kalamazoo Regional Meeting, brought a national expert to Southwest Michigan that added to a variety of voices sharing concerns and solutions for K-12 children. The pandemic’s disruptions, virtual learning, and the easing of testing benchmarks have amplified an issue that has plagued our state over the past decade – the growing number of children falling behind in reading, comprehension, and basic skills.

Preparing our children today can help prevent a further brain drain tomorrow – and with a growing number of parents supporting more options for their children, there is a clear forward path to increase success.

Corey DeAngelis, PhD, who is the National Director of Research for the American Federation of Children, joined Southwest Michigan First and the West Michigan Policy Forum, applying his lens to the critical situation at hand. During the discussion, DeAngelis highlighted spending, test scores, and where Michigan falls in national rankings for education opportunity and results. 

3 Things We Learned From Corey DeAngelis: 

  1. Michigan parents and guardians want more options for their students’ education. 
  2. Florida students’ educational achievements have increased dramatically since the introduction of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
  3. 2021 saw increased opportunities for students in 18 states and expanded existing opportunities for education in 21 states. 

“Competition is a tide that raises all boats – and it’s as true in education as it is in healthcare and the retail economy,” said DeAngelis. “Nationwide, there’s been an 8% jump in support of schools of choice over the last several years. 74 percent of parents support education savings – or opportunity accounts – for their kids.”

As part of the event, a question and answer portion was held at the end of the speech. A number of local school district leaders were included in the event, and one raised concerns over transportation and access to options for families without the means to afford them. DeAngelis noted the point of ESA’s in the other states he detailed results for was to provide those options to the very kids who don’t have them today.

Jonas Peterson of Southwest Michigan First, Sean Welsh of PNC Bank, Jase Bolger and John Kennedy, both of the Policy Forum, shared a mix of strategic thoughts on how when we come together we can impact K-12 students, in public, private and charter schools, now and for generations to come. 

Our next steps of action are to gain traction on this issue we hold dear by ensuring facts and solutions are put in front of our state’s changemakers and lawmakers.

We’ll be discussing the state of education further at our 2022 conference. Join us.