Serious legislative logjam avoided, a win for economic gains


The state Senate Oct. 24 approved Michigan implementation of the rigorous uniform education standards adopted across the country as Common Core standards. The bill now moves back to the House, which approved a version more than a month ago.

The Business Journal has supported the standards for math and reading compiled by educators across the country who found many successes in the manner of teaching — most importantly because the basic standards advance educational attainment absolutely necessary to improve the U.S. educational ranking among the world’s industrialized societies. That ranking leaves the U.S. behind 25 other countries.

Just as importantly, the Business Journal notes the Senate’s ability to find a method around the logjam of mixing up good public policy with favors for a specific group. Last week the Business Journal noted here this region’s correlation to household incomes and educational attainment. Comparisons offer a troubling reality, particularly in this area. Of 54 U.S. metro regions with populations of 1 million or more, Metro Grand Rapids is 54th in knowledge-based concentration and 42nd in college attainment. Metro Detroit ranked 35th and 37th.

Last year, Business Leaders for Michigan moved the issue of education to the top of its agenda for state funding reforms and continues that effort. Steelcase’s immediate past president and CEO, James Hackett, told the Business Journal last winter, “We can’t be cutting our future” because of “short-term budget realities,” and he added that the higher ed cutting was “going on long before the financial crisis” hit state government.

“It frustrates me deeply that the legislature is losing track” of what it takes to compete in the new knowledge-based industries and the reasons the universities need to be supported, he added. “If you are producing knowledge workers for the future industries, you have a shot at competing.”

BLM noted in its research it would take more than 10 years to restore funding for colleges and universities to the level necessary to prevent serious disruption in an educated talent pool.

The Business Journal is confident the House will again move quickly to pass the Common Core measure supported by Gov. Rick Snyder and act on funding issues still plaguing education.

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