Education is foundational to Michigan’s success. The state must have best-in-class K-12 and post-secondary education and training systems to prepare Michiganders for the jobs of the future, to close the talent gap with leading states and to be competitive for new jobs and business investments.
Michigan’s population is aging, with more than 100,000 individuals expected to age out of the workforce in the next eight years. With fewer workers, not enough people moving to the state, and low labor force participation, Michigan cannot afford to leave anyone behind. The state’s economy will suffer without sufficient numbers of highly skilled individuals to fill jobs. In order to attain widely shared prosperity, Michigan has to make significant improvements to its education system and remove roadblocks to success.
An outdated model
Michigan has struggled for a number of years to improve K-12 educational outcomes. Other states and many other countries are far ahead of us. Although Michigan has skilled and dedicated teachers and administrators, student test scores are among the lowest in the country. The system was built first for an agricultural economy and then transitioned to move students from the classroom to the assembly line. It has not kept up with the shifting needs of the 21st century economy.
Michigan currently ranks nationally:
- 39th in 4th grade reading
- 33rd in 8th grade math scores
- 41st in high school graduation
COVID has made matters worse. Test scores have declined an average of 10% and teacher shortages have become dire. In addition, COVID has shined yet another light on the disparities in education in historically disadvantaged communities, including the lack of support, resources and access to learning opportunities.
How Maryland is rewriting its K-12 blueprint
Maryland’s K-12 system has faced many of the same challenges Michigan faces today: student performance in the bottom half of the country, a regressive funding model, large achievement gaps based on race and income, and only about 40% of Maryland public high school graduates meeting the state’s college and career readiness standards.
In 2016, the Maryland Legislature created a new Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education comprised of major stakeholder groups. The commission was asked to study the education systems of the top-performing education systems in the world and to propose K-12 systems changes to policymakers.
The 25-member Commission’s work resulted in a recently passed 10-year plan that will overhaul Maryland’s public education system. “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” includes more than $3 billion annually of additional revenue, which support the following areas:
- Support for educators, including increased salaries and career opportunities
- Creation & expansion of career and technical education programs
- Investment in equity, including for students who receive special education services, English language learners, and schools in high-poverty communities
- Conversion to community schools, where a school-based coordinator will help determine a school’s specific needs
- Equity-focused funding for early childhood education
- Accountability structure to ensure the Blueprint implementation goes as planned and resources reach classrooms and students
About Business Leaders for Michigan
Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable, was founded in 2009 around a common mission to make Michigan a Top 10 state. The organization provides a platform for the state’s top business and education leaders to collaborate on developing and helping to implement impactful plans to make Michigan more competitive. In the past dozen years, the state has made significant progress, moving up to 29th from 49th nationally.
Business Leaders for Michigan’s new strategic report uses updated benchmarks, which provide a more holistic view of how well all Michiganders are succeeding. Its state-by-state analysis
helps business leaders and policymakers focus on where Michigan struggles to surpass other states, and develop specific, data-driven solutions that will help Michigan’s people, businesses and communities compete and win jobs, additional income and economic growth. Learn more at businessleadersformichigan.com.