Meet the powerhouse panel for our March 22 Michigan Education Summit

How did Massachusetts achieve its No. 1 ranking in K-12 education? How did Tennessee zoom past Michigan in student achievement? What needs to be done to improve student success in Michigan? Join us to March 22 to discuss the possibilities.

Don’t miss Solutions Summit: An Educated Michigan, a half-day morning conference on Michigan’s education performance crisis and what to do about it. Co-hosted by Business Leaders for Michigan, the event will feature education experts, lessons from other states and urge residents to consider the critical state of our education system as we move into the election season.

This event will also be livestreamed by Detroit Public Television here or viewed on Facebook live via Bridge’s Facebook page.  The event is free, but you must RSVP to guarantee your spot.

Related: Michigan's K-12 performance dropping at alarming rate
Related: Many Michigan K-12 reform ideas are jumbled, broad, or wildly expensive

Featured speakers include:

Bridge Magazine Data Reporter Mike Wilkinson, Education Trust Midwest’s Amber Arellano, education innovator, University Prep Schools founder, and American Promise Schools co-founder Doug Ross, and Public Sector Consultants’ Michelle Richard will discuss the alarming state of K-12 education in Michigan

Business Leaders for Michigan’s Jen Nelson presents findings of their PricewaterhouseCoopers report on how Michigan’s education system stacks up to other states, while Tennessee education policy leaders David Mansouri and Marc Hill will talk how their state zoomed past Michigan, while Massachusetts education policy leaders Paul Reville and Linda Noonan became the nation’s best at K-12 education, while Michigan fades.

Business leader John Rakolta of Walbridge, Kalamazoo RESA Superintendent and education reform advocate David Campbell, State Board of Education member Eileen Weiser, Goodwill of Greater Detroit CEO Dan Varner, and 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year Luke Wilcox discuss key issues for improving Michigan’s education system in 2018 and beyond. 

Chandra Madafferi, Vice President of the Michigan Education Association, Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, CEO and Co-Founder of New Paradigm For Education Ralph Bland, and UM School of Education Dean Elizabeth Birr Moje will discuss how to best support teachers in the classroom.

When: Thursday, March 22 from 8:30 to 12:30 pm

Location: The General Motors Auditorium at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. 

Continental breakfast and lunch included. Admission is free, donations welcome at the door.

If you require any accommodations as an attendee of these Summits, please contact Engagement Director Amber DeLind.​

This Summit is one of four policy conferences the Center and Bridge will be hosting as a kickoff to our 2018 Michigan Truth Tour. These summits will identify and outline potential solutions to the state’s most pressing issues, amplify expert discussion of those public issues, give the audience an opportunity to ask questions of these experts, and set a fact- and data-driven tone for the 2018 statewide elections.

Don’t wait, seating is limited. Reserve your seat today!


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Thu, 03/15/2018 - 12:35pm

There appears to be a phrase or several words missing in the 3rd paragraph...

" while Massachusetts education policy leaders Paul Reville and Linda Noonan [insert missing words here] became the nation’s best at K-12 education, while Michigan fades."

Tom Stephens
Mon, 03/19/2018 - 7:42am

This looks like another imperial conclave. No Detroiters to speak in public about education at a meeting in Detroit. Same old same old white supremacy, with smiley faces I expect. As the much-used saying goes, we're disappointed but not surprised.
The children of Detroit, like children everywhere, need and deserve an education that reflects and prepares them to understand and navigate the vital social realities of our day. Ideally that education should be community-based, and under community control. It should be rich in the cultural heritages of the students, in critical thinking skills, in the arts, and in instruction towards emotional and physical health.
These corporate education "reformers" only know how to profit from the educational abuses that have been on offer here for decades. The makeup of this panel shows they learned nothing (except how to exclude those most affected by their scams).

Barbara Cherem
Tue, 03/20/2018 - 4:05pm

Michigan Schools’ Reform – Denial of the Root Cause of Michigan Schools decline and the Consequences of Churned Decision-making
Due to the vacillating decision-making climate in Michigan schools, no one really trusts many Lansing-led initiatives any more. Even wealthier school districts, such as Farmington or Grosse Pointe, can scarcely move forward and perform well. They have cut their budgets to the bone over the past decade.
East Grand Rapids, one of the better school districts, and also a wealthy one (standardized test scores are strongly related to household incomes; high SES areas have high test scores, regardless of varying levels of school quality), supplements their schools with parental fund-raisers that raise sizable amounts of funds for their outstanding school performance.
Generally, Michigan teachers are demoralized, and have neither the funds, nor valid or current test data from which to really measure student performances. This is true again, unless they have the funds to have bought more frequent formative assessments themselves. Wealthier districts, say in Oakland county, can do this.
In looking to the Massachusetts school experience, they strategize and commit to the long-term. They have persistently been tops in the nation in most areas of schooling. What they did to renew themselves was to research, commit to a long-term strategy and stay that course.
Or in looking to the UK or Finland, we find solidly researched decisions, that are then committed to regardless of short-term results. Committed change is what is required not the churning and over-politicization that Michigan schools have experienced over the past several decades. This has only accelerated in recent years.
Along with being the only state with a census out-migration of population, and therefore an out-migrating of revenue, Michigan schools have been flapping around from post to pillar with no sustained direction. This is a more complex analysis than the Detroit News, but these three things I perceive as the root causes of MI schools’ inability to deliver the goods. This is after working with hundreds of MI educators, leaders and teachers, in a graduate school reform course these past six years.

1. Funding: Threshold amounts must be present for adequate education to be offered as promised by Michigan’s constitution. The 2018 Adequacy study states that a $2K average per student is needed for this to be true; the current baseline is insufficient. They recommend special amounts for students who are more costly to educate such as special ed and ESL students.
Such “expensive” students are noticeably absent in most public charters.
2. The MSU Ed. Policy pesented research several years ago, which stated that the outmigration in MI, together with two Lansing policies which vacate more revenue from neglected urban centers, and the schools there, result in about an additional 11% outflow in cities in MI than in other areas also losing revenue. These two policies are:
a. “School choice” which has money following students to another district. This policy has typically meant that traditional public school budgets are: less predictable than ever; there’s a destruction of the neighborhood and community school which results in an undermining of trusted relationships built only over time; and lastly the undermining of parent buy-in to their local school, as they merely move child from school to school. There’s been a churning of student bodies through this policy, with little evidence that student learning’s being improved.
b. Unregulated and for-profit proliferation of charters is distinctive in MI, whereas AZ and CA have closed under-performing charters, and have fewer for-profit charters, MI seems hard pressed to do so. Although there are some charters fulfilling the promise of innovation and improved student performance, the overall effect has been an outflow of revenue, particularly from city schools, without a significant increase in overall performance.
There’s also a churning of teachers within MI’s public charters (average teacher quite young and inexperienced in the most needy areas that need expertise, typically the senior teacher is 4 years ( the required time to become really effective) ,which results most commonly in very inexperienced teachers in these settings, and a lack of services for students with special needs. Charters are often “creaming” the student pools in needy areas, leaving the traditional publics to serve the more expensive-to-educate special ed. students, and students from more desperate home environments.
However, just as Gov. Granholm did not wish Dr. Tom Watkins, School Supt. at the time (who vacated the spot after a rather heated public squabble), to say that Proposal A needed tweaking as it wasn’t raising the revenue required any more, today’s MI government doesn’t want to admit that this shortfall is a serious problem.
The State of MI didn’t during Granholm, and doesn’t now, have the money to address the above problems adequately, so they find all sorts of other initiatives on which to spread the finite amount of money they do have. Here is how that has contributed to poor national showing in school performance, and a decline of MI school standing over about 40 years. Any observer of Michigan schools has observed this steady decline, and the many less costly initiatives to stem it that haven’t really worked.
3. The “churning” of leadership & lack of fidelity in sustaining potentially successful initiatives by over-politicization of ed. decision-making. Accelerated changes in state education reforms has been disruptive to teachers and teaching in MI. Together with the lessened revenue, this has been disasterous.
Too many term-limited legislators, who have admitted to having little context or knowledge of schooling, are nonetheless involved in ever-changing school mandates.
The result is that no sustained initiatives survive long enough to see if they can work. Examples are:
a. After adopting the Common Core standards, this decision was reversed after two years by the legislature. Schools were left hanging with two years of preparatory PD having readied them for the initiative. In the face of no immediate replacement, most schools stayed the course on these standards which were first embraced by the GOP, then fell from grace and then the Democrats, then who knows? Common Core standards became overly politicized, and should merely have been high level standards actually largely taken from another state.
b. Smart Balance, Again, politics at work. This test was aligned to the CC standards and was a test that fell out of favor, and then an RFP put out for replacing it. The eventual test actually was very similar, but much time money and upset were experienced over this legislative reversal. Disheartening to strapped teachers, strapped for time and money, and these sorts of activities are very under-mining of morale.
c. The M-Step was short lived and just becoming valid in its 3rd year, when it too was suggested for removal. It is now back in favor, but again, much yo-yoing of decisions with big lead times for adequate preparation, and having potentially very high stakes.
d. Teacher Evaluations—a nonpartisan (or was it bi-partisan?) committee met with chairman, Dean Ball of U of M – A2, for two years, and made very sensible and educationally sound recommendations for the profession, when one legislator out of ---I believe St. Clair,--- was allowed to completely debunk and de-track this initiative in which many educators from around the state had invested time and energy.
Wake up Michigan! Admit that there are many problems, but the root of these is indeed not having the required threshold amounts to deliver the goods. Quit flapping and at least choose some things to which you can demand commitment without trying to make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. Your frustration is you keep trying and are surprised when it just doesn’t work, so then legislators try something else. Until you stop using denial as our best coping mechanism to this sad problem, you will continue to be frustrated and mis-directed.
At least honor the profession by honoring the recommendations of bodies such as Dean Ball’s and leave the educational decisions to non-partisan educational leaders. They truly do have something to offer, well beyond what inexperienced legislators can provide. Allow them to do their work, and make their own decisions. Legal and medical bodies do this. Why not educators? Is it because we are a female-dominated profession, and aren’t perceived as capable? I truly wonder. Or is it that the numbers are large and so , like nursing, there just doesn’t seem the capacity?

Mary Fox
Wed, 03/21/2018 - 10:11am

You are right. Why is it that EVERY one of the papers here exclude teacher input? Exclude the very people doing the job. Damn stupid. The arrogance of businessmen who think our only purpose is to feed their businesses ready-made workers is incredible. The arrogance that says they know better than teachers doing the work do. WOW.