Can Michigan Recover its Failing Education System?

k12It is no big secrets that American schools are struggling but in Michigan, K-12 students continue to fall behind the schools across the rest of the United States.  This, of course, not only threatens the future lives of these students, but it also puts the state’s present economic momentum at risk; and that could challenge the state’s overall competitiveness down the road.

In a new report from The Education Trust-Midwest, data suggests that if Michigan cannot improve its internal educational policies and practices, the state’s goal to become a top-performing state by the year 2030 will be nearly impossible.

“We need to have a serious conversation about how to improve schools,” explains ETM executive director Amber Arellano. “Michigan is an average spending state on education, but a terribly low-performing one compared to the rest of the U.S.”

Of course, many things hand in the balance of this effort.  A state devoid of good schools will have trouble developing and maintaining economic momentum.

In the report, the authors warn: “Research shows that the most effective path for a state to boost the long-term economic well-being of its people is to invest in improvements in education.States with a highly educated workforce have high median wages.”

Accordingly, Arellano goes on to say, “Michigan needs honest information about how it’s performing against world-class college- and career-ready standards and other states – and we cannot lose our chance to do that.”

As a point of reference, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading proficiency. In 2015, though, the state fell to 41st in the nation.  Similarly, Michigan’s eighth-grade math scores ranked 34th in 2003 and fell to 38th by 2015.  If these rates continue, the state is expected to rank 48th in fourth grade reading and 43rd in eighth grade math by the year 2030.

The state has also seen a decline in: college readiness, college and other post-secondary enrollment, and college attainment.

Indeed, Arellano continues, “We’re certainly not on track to become a top 10 state any time soon. It’s totally unacceptable for the economy, for business and especially for kids themselves.”

But while the future looks a bit grim, Michigan Department of Education spokesman Martin Ackley remains optimistic that the current efforts are enough to incite the necessary trajectory. He says, The Education Trust is making some predictions we’re not willing to accept. We’re engaging countless stakeholders to be involved and be invested [in this effort]. This is not something that’s going to be done overnight.”