We all know that our education system doesn’t exist in a vacuum. But when it comes to tackling the tough problems that plague our classrooms, too often the discussions are relegated to the same old parties, coming together in the same old ways to hash out the same old ideas. Together, we need to take a visionary and creative approach to bridge the gap between business, education and talent.
As business leaders, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce has joined a new statewide initiative called Launch Michigan. We believe strongly in its importance, its necessity and its potential to transform the state’s education system like never before.
Launch Michigan is a historic partnership that aims to improve education in innovative ways, primarily by bringing together representatives from schools, the workforce, unions, the philanthropic community and more. We believe that by joining together these diverse — and maybe a little unexpected — partners who hold the same vision for our state’s future, we can finally move beyond the conversations that typically get us stuck in order to find meaningful and lasting solutions.
Michigan’s education woes are neither new, nor simple. Recent national rankings and test scores show our children are falling behind their peers in other states. Budgets are tight from the school level to the federal level, and the education changes we are implementing and the dollars we are spending still aren’t leading to the improvements we hoped for. As a result, our businesses lack the skilled, educated talent they need to compete in the 21st century.
Countless groups have tried to take on these issues in the past. Unfortunately, that work has not yielded the results we want and need. Launch Michigan partners see this not as a sign of hopelessness, but as a call to action. We know we can move past finger-pointing and strip away partisanship to seek viable solutions grounded in high-quality research and best practices.
Right now, Launch Michigan is in the early stages of collaboration, but we intend to finalize a shared agenda over the summer for elected officials to begin considering in the fall. In addition to these efforts, the group will begin crafting solutions to long-term problems that move us toward our goal of making Michigan a top 10 state in education.
While the collective boasts a diverse set of individual viewpoints, Launch Michigan has already defined the following priorities to guide the creation of our agenda:
Leveraging existing research and conducting a statewide educator survey, among other activities, as a way of listening to and supporting our educators
Supporting shared, statewide, research-driven strategies for delivering effective education to all students and sticking to those strategies regardless of politics and election cycles, so we can see what really works
Supporting a fair and comprehensive accountability system that includes everyone who influences education — not just teachers
Elevating public awareness about the current state of education in Michigan
Working together to ensure that the resources are available to provide for an equitable student-centered education system and funding model
Make no mistake — this work will not be easy. The problems facing Michigan’s K–12 system are deep and complex — the solutions even more so. But we owe it to our teachers, parents, communities, and — above all — our children to say goodbye to the status quo and find a different path forward. We can do this with new ideas, a new attitude and a new approach. We can do this with Launch Michigan.
Source: Lansing State Journal