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Michigan students lagging behind, educators say

  • President Thomas J. Haas
  • From left: President Haas, Kevin Stotts, president of Talent 2025 Inc.; Doug Rothwell, president of Business Leaders for Michigan; and Eileen Weiser, state Board of Education.
  • Economic Club of Grand Rapids

Posted on February 06, 2018

President Thomas J. Haas led a panel discussion about K-12 education and how Michigan ranks near the bottom in the U.S. for student performance in reading and mathematics.

The discussion, "Michigan's Lagging Education Performance: What's at Stake and What Does it Mean for the Future?" was held February 5 at an Economic Club event at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids.

Panelists included Eileen Weiser, state Board of Education; Doug Rothwell, president of Business Leaders for Michigan; and Kevin Stotts, president of Talent 2025 Inc.

Panelists said many state residents aren't aware of U.S. Department of Education statistics that show Michigan ranks 41st among states for fourth-grade reading performance and 38th for eighth-grade math performance. Another statistic showed, in 2016-2017, about 35 percent of 11th graders in the state were college ready.

Haas, who chaired the 21st Century Education Commission, said recommendations from the commission include universal access to preschool education, governmental accountability and improved teacher preparation.

"We rolled out a framework, but this isn't going to happen overnight," Haas said. "Business leaders have an important role. Get to those people you know, legislative officials and those running for governor and ask, 'What are you going to do to fix where we are now, and going forward?'"

Panelists agreed the first step to solving the problem is for state leaders in education, business and policymaking to find a common plan for education reform.