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Michigan 21st Century Education Commission chair provides roadmap for success

GVSU President Tom Haas
Courtesy photo
Grand Valley State University

Michigan’s 21st Century Education Commission issued a report earlier this year that finds students are overall underperforming and that the state must revamp its education delivery system. WGVU spoke with the chair of the education commission for an update.

“We’re OK. We don’t have to be the best because we’re not the worst, but we are racing to the bottom.”

During a Grand Rapids Rotary Club luncheon, keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Haas, Chair of Michigan’s 21st Century Education Commission and President of Grand Valley State University explained high-income, low-income, students in Michigan are underperforming.

“At the end of the day for education there is a race to the bottom.”

The 25 member commission evaluated the state’s education system from early childhood through higher education. It set four goals for improving performance by the year 2025.

• Seventy percent or more of 25-year-olds in Michigan will have completed a college degree, occupational certificate, apprenticeship, or formal skill training.

• Michigan children will score in the top 10 among U.S. states on the bi-annual National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading, math, and science.

• The high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment gap between low-income and middle-income children in Michigan will have disappeared.

• Michigan children will surpass the scores of Ontario school children on the Programme for International Student Assessment in reading, math, and science.

“And then we were able to also say we have to resource this in a strategic way. I am not one as President of Grand Valley, or in my professional life, like cuts across the board or adds across the board. What I want to make sure we do is prioritize.”

What needs to be prioritized? Is it policy? Is it making sure that teachers are paid well and prepared?

“I think the first priority is to go back to an understanding that one; education is a public good and needs to be invested in, and number two; education needs to be valued and I don’t sense that. I don’t sense it in my world in higher education that there’s reports almost daily saying higher education’s not providing outcomes that we want, yet we see the educated individual coming out of those public schools and private schools having higher paying jobs and the individual who just has a high school degree can’t make it now. So it is relative to success and that’s why we lead with our report on identifying the strategies, some tactics, short-term and long-term that’s going to lead to success of the individuals that are going to be impacted with this system and the system as a whole leading to the success of Michigan.”

The entire report can be found at http://www.michigan.gov//documents/snyder/Final_Report_-_The_Best_Education_System_for_Michigans_Success_588111_7.pdf

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.