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Education think tank: Michigan K-12 education in "perennial rut"

Education Trust-Midwest says Michigan's K-12 educational system is in a "rut" and needs more money and policy attention to stop a future downward spiral
Ortega Ulloa
The Education Trust - Midwest says Michigan's K-12 educational system is in a "rut" and needs more money and policy attention to stop a future downward spiral

An annual report on Michigan's K-12 education system says it's in a "rut" — and will get worse if nothing's done. 

"Academic achievement remains largely stagnant across key indicators for success," the Education Trust -Midwest report said.

Fourth-grade reading scores in Michigan have shown no significant change in the past 16 years, the report noted, and, while eighth-grade math scores improved slightly, the improvements are significantly lower than those seen nationally.

From the report:

Data also reveal troubling opportunity and achievement gaps for underserved students, including students of color and low-income students. Michigan is also in the bottom 10 states nationally for Black students in early literacy and eighth grade math. And in the last 16 years, Michigan’s Latino students improved in early literacy only about one third as much as Latino students nationwide.

Dave Meador is with Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, a coalition of civil rights, social justice, civic, and business leaders that is affiliated with The Education Trust - Midwest.

Meador said as education goes, so goes the state.

"The data's pretty compelling. We need to do something," said Meador. "And if we don't, we're not going to be able to put Michigan on a path to be a top-ten state to live and work and have a business and raise a family. We have to turn that all around. Because right now our population is not growing; it's declining, and it's aging, and we will run out of workers, and the engine to all of this — to turn this all around — is education."

Meador said the political focus on lowering taxes has deprived the state of necessary funds for good roads — and a good educational system.

He said Michigan won't be able to pull itself out of the rut without increasing preschool and K-12 funding overall, especially to increase teacher pay, and to dramatically increase funding for schools that serve at-risk students.

Meador added that a good first step in addressing inequities would be using American Rescue Plan funds to help at-risk students make up for disruptions in learning during the pandemic.

The report says those disruptions "widened devastating opportunity gaps."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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