Snow was falling as I typed this, but I hope that by the time you read it, spring has made its presence known. One of my highlights this winter was seeing the huge smile on my daughter's face when she won a gymnastics meet. For me, it was about her happiness, not the medal. As any parent knows, seeing your children set goals and achieve them is a pretty big win.
It's my pleasure to bring you this very first issue of Education Detroit, a resource for Detroit parents. I know that you love and want the best for your children. I also know it takes a lot of work to give them the bright future they deserve. A great education is one of the keys to that future, from Day One to the day they leave for college (and beyond).
What would you design if public education were only now being launched for the first time in our state or country? Assume, for the moment, that you could fiat whatever you wanted into existence. And really assume that nothing has existed before, so you aren't trying to change an existing public education system. You are starting from scratch.
I was at an event last week at which John Covington, Chancellor of Michigan's Education Achievement Authority, happened to be speaking. During his remarks, he suggested that if 1960's TV show character Beaver Cleaver were transported into a modern-day school, he would be surprised by the diversity of the student body and by mobile phones, but would likely otherwise find most schools comfortably unchanged.
Earlier this summer, Michigan State Superintendent of Education Mike Flanagan floated the idea of Intermediate School Districts taking on responsibility for some of the administrative functions that are currently left to local districts of all kinds. At the top of that list is transportation.
The Michigan Department of Education today released a new system for reporting on the performance of Michigan schools. The information, found at mischooldata.org, reports on two different, non-aligned performance measures.
When asked about Detroit education policy, city council and mayoral candidates frequently explain that while they care about education, there isn't much that a city council member or mayor can do to impact the quality of education in the city. While it is true that those positions don't have any kind of authority over the state policies and funding that directly impact Detroit's schools and early learning programs, I believe that there are many ways that our city council and mayor can influence the quality of the education our children receive.
One of the raging debates of the moment about education policy in Michigan is whether competition or cooperation holds the key to improved school performance. The debate assumes that those two things exist as mutually exclusive --like oil and water, they simply can't be mixed.
While I've learned lots of things as a father, one of the most clear is this: as parents, we love our children--deeply. And so, we want the best for them. That includes their schools. But for the last decade, it's been extraordinarily difficult for Detroiters to choose the best schools for our children, because we haven't had access to really good information about our schools.
Never before have Detroiters had a way to look at every school, apples-to-apples, across multiple measures. With the 2013 Excellent Schools Detroit Scorecard, now we do.
I’ve just attended my first Mackinac Policy Conference. Wow.