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21st Century Education Commission Releases Report

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, March 15, 2017

The 21st Century Education Commission released its long-awaited report on Friday. The Commission was formally created in March 2016 by Gov. Rick Snyder through Executive Order 2016-6. The Commission was chaired by Dr. Thomas Haas, President of Grand Valley State University, who worked with 24 other members representing their fields as administrators, teachers, unions, business leaders, higher education representatives, state government, charter school leaders and early childhood experts.

The report includes three building blocks and nine guiding principles with key strategies on how to accomplish the principles. All of this is with the goal of drastically increasing student achievement and postsecondary education, whether a degree, apprenticeship, formal skill training or occupational certificate, by 2025.

The building blocks are described as: Focus on Learning, Create a Strong Culture of Success and Build a Coherent, Connected Education System From Prenatal to Career. Within those three building blocks there are nine principles of a world-class education:

1. Elevate the Education Profession

2. Build Capacity to Do What Works

3. Invest in an Efficient System of Public Funding

4. Increase Access to Postsecondary Education

5. Partner With Parents

6. Enhance Accountability

7. Ensure Access to Quality Learning Environments

8. Invest Early

9. Update K-12 Governance

The report repeatedly calls for increased investment in education, but also a look at how those resources are distributed. It states, “without significant new investment, Michigan cannot become a top-performing education state.” Some of the funding recommendations it includes are supporting programs the state views as a priority with appropriate funds and tools, additional resources for students with higher risks and creating more equitable funding formulas. It also stresses the importance of state support for infrastructure to ensure that every district “is guaranteed a minimum yield for each mill raised.”

In the governance section, it lays out some major changes in how we look at education in Michigan, including abolishing or allowing the Governor to appoint the State Board of Education. This could not be done without a vote of the people as the State Board is established as a publically elected body in the Constitution. It also recommends consolidating education functions into the Michigan Department of Education from other state departments and enhancing MDE’s capacity to support schools. Finally, it suggests reconfiguring the structure and function of intermediate school districts.

The 21st Century Education Commission website includes the full report broken down by section to allow you to read the parts that interest you the most.

At this point, we don’t know what pieces the Governor will choose to highlight, nor what the Legislature will consider. But the report, along with the Education Finance Study released last year, certainly give our lawmakers and policymakers something to think about. MASB will continue to dive deeper into the report as we see some issues that align with our legislative priorities and look for opportunities to work with the Legislature on those. If you have thoughts or concerns regarding the report, please share them with us.

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