Launch Michigan — a broad coalition of education, labor, business, philanthropic and civic organizations dedicated to improving Michigan’s education system for all students — has released its Framework for transforming Michigan’s educational system to equip students for a world economy.
The Framework is unique in its scope, ambition, and density. No other education transformation effort in recent memory goes so far to alter the experiences of students and educators alike.
MEA has been a key partner in Launch Michigan since the coalition formed four years ago, working to build trust between unlikely partners, advocating for high-quality research into the issues facing public education, and ensuring the voices of Michigan’s rank-and-file educators are part of any proposals to help our students succeed.
“When it comes to boosting Michigan’s educational outcomes, there is absolutely no time to lose,” said MEA President and Launch Michigan co-chair Paula Herbart in a coalition news release. “Our priority is to ensure we start filling in the gaps we know exist, so we can begin changing children’s lives and futures as quickly as possible. Michigan’s educators are dedicated to our students, and this framework is an important place to start providing them with the tools needed to change the course of our kids’ futures.”
Unlike one-off reforms for public education proposed in the past, Launch Michigan’s Framework is centered on three interconnected pillars: reinvention, resources, and responsibility. Aside from buy-in by a broad cross-section of organizations, the strength of this approach is that it’s not a checklist of quick fixes, but rather a holistic view of how changes are needed in all three areas to truly transform public education in our state.
Key proposals in the Framework include:
- Reinvention: A new college and career readiness standard that ensures students are supported throughout their academic careers to meet high goals by high school and prepare them for post-secondary learning and the workplace. This includes equitable access — no matter where a student is from — to multiple learning pathways like college credit bearing coursework and 21st century career and technical education programs. The Framework also includes removing the retention requirements from the third grade reading law.
- Resources: More than $3.5 billion in new education funding — the majority provided through new revenue — to increase both base per-pupil allowances and weighted funding for students with greater needs, like special education and at-risk (based on research by the School Finance Research Collaborative). The Framework includes measures to enhance compensation and staffing for the education profession, as well as an important caveat that any efforts to change the financing of retirement benefits must not harm the retirement security of current and retired school employees.
- Responsibility: Across all levels of stakeholders — from elected leaders to the Michigan Department of Education to intermediate school districts to local schools — we need to align governance to focus on the standards we want to achieve. That includes a stronger, fully resourced MDE; a clearer, transparent rating system and interventions to support struggling schools; and a revamped teacher evaluation system that focuses on professional growth rather than standardized test scores.
“It’s important to remember that this is a framework and not a fully fleshed out plan,” Herbart said. “Now that we have broad consensus from partners, it’s time to start further developing the proposals Launch Michigan is discussing so they’re actionable and reflect the best thinking of educators, parents, the business community and everyone who has a stake in public education.”
That process is already underway thanks to a review of the Framework by the National Center for Education and the Economy, a respected national research group that assisted with education transformation efforts in Massachusetts and Maryland. Their initial review found that the Framework had many good starting points, but that more development of details are needed in key areas – including specifics around the college and career readiness standard, interventions for struggling schools and efforts to strengthen the teaching profession.
In particular, MEA is committed to ensuring these steps are taken without putting inappropriate emphasis on standardized tests while maintaining collective bargaining rights of school employees.
The next step is to broaden the conversation through development teams that will work to build out these important details. If you are interested in engaging in that process, let MEA know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coalition members agree that this development work must be done with urgency and include as many partners as possible to ensure we do right by Michigan’s students.
“Until we act to create an educational system that gives kids the knowledge and skills to succeed in an economy that’s increasingly advancing on a global scale, we will lag behind other states and nations and outsource the opportunities that should belong to our youngest residents,” said Jeff Donofrio, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan and Launch Michigan co-chair. “To ensure future opportunities will exist for our kids, we have to invest in the educational system capable of producing them.”
Brian Calley, Small Business Association of Michigan President and CEO and Launch Michigan co-chair, summed up the sentiment saying, “Inaction is not an option here. We will continue working together until true transformation becomes a reality for Michigan students.”
Read about Launch Michigan’s work and proposals, the full Framework text, and NCEE’s review at LaunchMichigan.org/framework.