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Higher ed

Too often, the conversation about education in Michigan ends before talking about the future of higher education. To assure that the state prospers economically and Michiganders have secure futures over the next several decades, it is imperative that we embrace the tenet that all children can and will learn, achieve and be capable of pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities.

Antoine Garibaldi

Antoine M. Garibaldi is president of University of Detroit Mercy.

A high school diploma will be insufficient to obtain employment in this state and others in the next decade; and a professional career will be unattainable without substantial postsecondary education. Since most individuals will have at least seven or more jobs over their lifetime in constantly evolving careers, they will need to be more prepared than their parents and grandparents. And even though technology will transform the entire employment landscape, companies will still need talented, intelligent and skilled individuals to guide their respective businesses.

Unfortunately, high school graduation rates and postsecondary attainment rates of Michigan citizens are very low. In 2014, for example, roughly 30 percent percent of Michigan adults 25 and older had only a high school diploma; 24 percent had some college but no degree; 9 percent had an associate’s degree; and 17 percent had a bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral or professional degree. And even though recent average Michigan high school graduation rates show improvement like the rest of the nation, considerably more progress is needed.

Nationally, the most recent U.S. Department of Education high school graduation rate, for the class of 2014, was 82 percent, three points higher than Michigan’s average of 79 percent. That gap may seem small, but Michigan ranked 36th of 50 states. Furthermore, the national average high school graduation rate for low income students was 76 percent, compared with Michigan’s rate of 67.5 percent. That gap must and can be closed by taking deliberate steps such as setting high expectations for students; regularly evaluating students’ academic performance; supporting teachers and providing them with essential resources; keeping parents aware of their children’s progress; and other important strategies that contribute to the success of children and effective schools.

This is not a daunting task, but one that is achievable if we are determined to make sure that our youth will graduate from high school, be adequately prepared for postsecondary education and ready to enter the workforce.

Last year, the Business Leaders for Michigan issued a report clearly stating that “…jobs growing the most over the next three years will require some level of education beyond high school.” It further emphasized: “Jobs that require more education and training pay above average wages and are expected to increase by 2018, while jobs that require less education and training and pay below average wages are expected to contract.”

As a former elementary and secondary teacher and administrator and president of one of Michigan’s 112 colleges and universities, I am confident that our youth can and will exceed academic expectations to become the future leaders and professionals in Michigan’s 83 counties. And more postsecondary education will be the key to Michigan’s prosperous future.

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Mary Kay Thayer
Sun, 03/12/2017 - 12:50pm

Michigan's Education system continues to graduate students that are unable to place out of community college remedial classes. How sad is that....

Bob Balwinski
Sun, 03/12/2017 - 1:59pm

Dr Garabaldi..........let me share a couple stories from the other end of the spectrum as they may be a precursor of issues in elementary, middle, and secondary education. In my role as a Mathematics Instructional Specialist for Detroit Public Schools, I was assigned elementary schools to work with even though my 23 years as a Mathematics teacher were spent at secondary level. My boss wanted us to have a total picture of Mathematics instruction. Well, I arrived my first day a bit early as I didn't know elementary schools started at a later time then the high school I left. I was shown the teacher's lounge to wait in and encountered two Kindergarten teachers there. I just overheard their conversation and have never forgotten what I heard that day. One teacher related a story of asking one of her new 5 year old students his name The child replied, "Booboo." This teacher told the student that this was a nickname and wanted to know his given name. The 5 year old new student shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know. The other teacher was on a committee to spend some well-earned grant money on professional development but wondered if perhaps this money could be used for parenting training for parents of this school. So we have children coming to school not even knowing their names much less colors and numbers and having any pre-reading skills as well as teachers willing to give up money for their training to be spent helping parents do just that....parent their children. This was not what one would call an "inner city" school nor was it an overwhelmingly "minority" school yet the children arriving to begin their educational journey were poorly prepared. I would like to see more intervention at the pre-K level including legal actions against parents who don't parent. Remember.....and I still do.......that when the first crack babies were born in Detroit, they went through a long detox process at the hospital and then...........were returned to their crack-addicted mothers. This alone told me how much we care about new born children, the ones who would be showing up at Kindergarten doors in five years. Enough from before I break out in tears...........Bob Balwinski, University of Detroit, BA 1968, MA 1970

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 4:21pm

I just returned from a one week person to person trip to Cuba. Every younger person I spoke with was educated and had a strong desire to succeed. And succeed they will.

Meanwhile, here in the States, young people, to a large part, are more interested in singers, how they look, tattoos, who won American Idol, and anything but education. There does not seem to be a desire to better themselves and take advantage of opportunities. The foreign students are coming here and getting into the colleges and graduate schools, and are displacing Americans in the jobs market.

Before we start to ask for more money for the schools, we need to increase the desire to succeed in our younger population.

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 11:14am

Mr. Garibaldi offers a lot of statistics, he offers [what I will call a very high level soft recommendation], “…supporting teachers and providing them with essential resources; keeping parents aware of their children’s progress; and other important strategies that contribute to the success of children and effective schools.”, but he misses is what will change the statistics he presents.
What is the nature of the support the teachers need, is a change in the school culture/environment, is it describing expectations, is it engaging the community?
What resources aren’t currently available, is it engaging the student’s interest, is it understanding of the application of classroom knowledge and in jobs?
How should the parent use knowing the student’s progress? Is knowing a student’s progress really that valuable if there are no expectations about what and how the student learns and what they should be achieving?
What are the students to do, I notice that Mr. Garibaldi focuses on adults, as if they can make students learn, and doesn't acknowledge the student’s role/responsibilities in their learning. He doesn’t mention that learning will be solely student driven post-secondary schooling.
What are the ‘important strategies’, who [what organizations and what people and roles] need these strategies?

It would have been more helpful if Mr. Garibaldi would have asked the questions he has had to answer through his career from the classroom to the head of a post-secondary teaching institution. A well framed question will stimulate more conversation, more thinking, and more action than any pronouncements about what others should do.