The Michigan Senate in late October approved a bill offered by Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, as part of a bipartisan package to increase the number of state-allowed educational Promise Zones from 10 to 15. The increase would enable Newaygo County to proceed with its application even as Muskegon Area Intermediate School District received its approval in September.
The zones help improve the state’s ability to advance education levels, the most fundamental ingredient for economic prosperity both for individuals and the state. The zones have a better chance of success if the Michigan legislature provides increases in K-12 education funding — and no chance based on the dismal and damaging results of recent student testing.
As Gov. Rick Snyder prepares his agenda for 2016, education must remain at the forefront of the “relentless positive action” agenda.
Grand Rapids Business Journal previously has reported on the results from the Education Trust Midwest showing Michigan fell from 28th to 38th in the country in fourth-grade reading results in 2014. Sarah Lenhoff, director of policy and research for Education Trust, told the Business Journal, “Michigan fourth-graders are actually performing at lower levels than they were 10 years ago, and if we stay on that track, we are projecting a ranking of about 44th in the nation by 2030.”
Other key highlights in the report include Michigan’s public education system is ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of funding equity; Caucasian student ranking is 46th in the nation for National Assessment of Education Process scores.
In October, the NAEP’s “Nation’s Report Card” showed Michigan’s 2015 proficiency is even lower than the most current state reports: On each of the four tests, Michigan’s proficiency is lower in 2015 than it was in 2013. Michigan student proficiency in fourth-grade math was 34 percent; 29 percent in eighth-grade math; 29 percent in fourth-grade reading and 32 percent proficiency in eighth-grade reading. Michigan Future columnist Lou Glazer provides additional information in his guest column, including results of Michigan charter schools.
Michigan’s Promise Zones will be meaningless if students are unable to attain proficiency in reading or math. Michigan is again far past due to make the investment in K-12 education.
The promise of prosperity is empty and, in fact, cruel without investments in achievements to get there.