Michigan Must Look Beyond Federal Mandates and Common Stereotypes to Correct Long-Established Education Gaps
Posted by The Right Place | Posted in Business Development
A piece in yesterday’s Grand Rapids Press notes that in studying student performance on tests conducted by the National Assessment of Education Progress, researchers from Education Trust-Midwest, found that Michigan has lagged in education achievement for several years – ranking 23-35 in fourth-grade reading and 27-41 in fourth-grade math. Such results only validate what so many in West Michigan have said, and yet we still fail to provide all of our children the education they need to contribute to our increasingly technical workplace. And as much as unemployment numbers are decreasing, we have also yet to create a seamless system to support the region’s adult learners as they try to acquire new technical skills.
For those who might think such reforms only apply to some Michigan schools, note this from Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust-Midwest.
“The conventional wisdom in Michigan holds low-income, and black and brown children responsible for our state’s low average – and assumes middle-class and white children are doing just fine. Indeed, this belief is so prevalent that state educational leaders and policymakers have been known to say, ‘If it wasn’t for our urban and poor students, we would be doing a whole lot better.’ Not only is this belief based on dated stereotypes, it also is patently false. Yet it is used to justify inaction on improving our state’s schools.”
All of which comes on the same day the Obama Administration released 10 states from some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind – a law designed to get all children up to par in math and reading by 2014. The reprieve may offer more freedom to local governments, but it does not erase the fact that we are running out of time to give our children the skills they need to compete globally.
And those skills go beyond the classroom. A 2011 report from the University of Phoenix Research Institute showed that such factors as super collaborations outside traditional business boundaries, smarter machines, and the rise of a global media network are driving the need for skill sets beyond basic literacy, math and science. A successful 2020 employee will have to have such abilities as adaptive thinking and virtual collaboration, as well as a design-oriented mindset and cross-cultural competency to place them – and their employers – on solid, competitive ground by the start of the millenium’s second decade.