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Prosperity Through Education: Part One

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, Jan. 17, 2018

Michigan Future Inc. released three reports on prosperity last year—a 21st century policy agenda followed by documents focused on education and shared prosperity.

In the most recent MI SoundBoard podcast, Executive Director Don Wotruba spoke with Michigan Future Inc. President Lou Glazer about the organization’s work and research around what makes Michigan a leader or laggard when it comes to education, and steps needed to improve the overall success of Michigan. Spoiler: Michigan can do better.

Listen to the full conversation through the following links, or read a transcript of the beginning of the conversation with Glazer below.

ITunes | Google Play | Listen Online

DON WOTRUBA: Today we’re joined by special guest Lou Glazer, President of Michigan Future, and for most of our listeners, Lou, I would image that Michigan Future is not an organization they’re familiar with. And I think in education, your name has been around over the years in different reports and different speaking engagements with organizations. What if you tell us a little bit about yourself and the organization that you lead?

LOU GLAZER: So we started Michigan Future, I was one of the founders in 1991, I like to joke with people, three years before the Netscape browser so this is preInternet, really around the notion that we wanted to be a nonpartisan think tank that worked on restoring Michigan to high prosperity, a status that we enjoyed for most of the 20th century and then had lost. With a core assumption belief that is proven to be true, which is, but it’s been very hard for Michigan to learn that sort of what made us prosperous in the past was not going to make us prosperous in the future, that these sort of high-paid, mass, middle-class factory jobs were going away basically as they have.

So our work has always been about the economy. How we got to education was that we looked around the country at the places that had the highest per-capita income, broadest middle class with the most prosperous places. One thing ended up being the fundamental predictor of economic well-being and that’s the proportion of adults with a four-year degree or more. So education attainment is now the way in which individuals, as well as communities, become prosperous. The only exception to that rule are places that have lots of oil and natural gas.

So if you look at the top 15 states in per-capita income, three of them are energy states. Of the other 12, all are in the top 15 in the proportion of adults with a four-year degree. So it’s not really an accident that Michigan is 32nd in per-capita income and 32nd in college attainment, the two go hand in hand. So we’ve ended up in this situation in 2017 with a relatively strong economy, a very strong domestic auto industry, that for the first time ever, we’ve had a strong domestic auto industry and Michigan’s been a low-prosperity state. So we’ve been working on, how do you reverse that?

The key lesson of everything is, the business that you’re in, education, is what matters most.

Part Two of this interview will air next Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Subscribe today through ITunes or Google Play to receive a notification when new episodes are available.

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