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Education expected to take center stage at the Mackinac Policy Conference

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac

The Mackinac Policy Conference is officially underway as of 1 p.m. today.

Here's the livestream:

Watch live streaming video from detroitpublictv at livestream.com

The conference, sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber, attracts around 1,600 political, business, and policy leaders from around the state and around the country.

Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark, Jennifer White, and political analyst Jack Lessenberry will bring us the news along with MPRN's Rick Pluta and Jake Neher.

We're not the only ones writing about the event. Plenty of other media outlets are writing about what the muckety-mucks are expected to talk about.

With the backdrop of dozens of Michigan schools in crisis, education is expected to take center stage at this year's conference.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will hit on education in his keynote session. MLive's Jonathan Oosting writes about what Bush has said in the past.

"If Michigan gets this right, I can guarantee you will have an economic climate where people will want to pursue their dreams here," he said during the 2011 visit. "There is one thing that business leaders want, a world class education system for their workers and their children. If you get that right, a lot of other elements of policy require less effort to achieve."

But Bridge Magazine's guest commenter Ken Winter (newspaperman turned educator) writes he's not holding out much hope:

I have not been impressed by what I’ve heard from state politicians and special interests to meet this challenge. Lawmakers and business leaders could benefit from real time in a classroom to see what educators have to content before students enter their school doors – broken homes, substance abuse, illiteracy, psychological and physical challenges, poverty and more.

Jack Lessenberry quoted former state superintendent Tom Watkins saying "today’s education battles are about adult concerns like teacher benefits and the place of unions -- not kids."

Watkins told Lessenberry that Gov. Snyder should "lock all concerned in a horse barn on Mackinac and "tell them they can’t come out until they have reinvented an education system in Michigan designed for our kids’ future, not our past."

Education will be the focus of a event put on by the Kellogg Foundation and Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity team.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White will host a panel on early childhood education in Michigan. Leaders in Michigan are showing they want to invest more in early childhood education.

We'll have a livestream of the panel discussion here on michiganradio.org along with other news and streams of other events.

This year's conference is expected to be better attended compared to last year's conference.

Chad Livengood from the Detroit News points out that last year's conference was devoid of state legislators as they tried to wrap up budget negotiations. This year, he expects a better showing:

But this week, Republican legislative leaders expect to take final votes on the state budget Wednesday, so more than 60 representatives and senators can reach the island by nightfall or early Thursday and catch two days of the conference.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.