A panel of Michigan business, education, civic, and philanthropic leaders from Launch Michigan has introduced recommendations to provide better learning opportunities to students across the state. The announcement kicked off an agenda last week to begin taking shape during 2020.
“As a state, we’ve been focused on picking winners and losers in the education system,” says Tonya Allen, co-chair of Launch Michigan and president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “We must turn our intentions to producing winners and winners, making targeted and equitable investments so all Michigan children can achieve their highest aspirations.”
The initiative’s three priorities include preparing graduates, ensuring rapid development, and closing equity gaps.
“These priorities are going to give us a solid framework for change,” says Paula Herbart, co-chair of Launch Michigan and president of the Michigan Education Association. “From here, we can develop a strong, phased-in approach that will deliver results for all our state’s learners over time.”
During the first phase, Launch Michigan plans to focus on boosting elementary literacy and teacher performance.
“We’re introducing a new Equity in Literacy fund this year, which will provide additional support to early readers in grades K–3,” says Doug Rothwell, co-chair of Launch Michigan and president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “The fund will help tackle Michigan’s literacy challenges while providing additional support to students living in poverty as well as those who are geographically isolated.”
The Equity in Literacy fund will be accompanied by district-driven strategic planning requirements to ensure funds are being allocated to areas of greatest need and are tied to evidence-based research and practice.
“As a coalition, we support a student-centered, weighted funding formula that allocates resources to children based on their unique needs and circumstances,” Rothwell says. “We can’t hope to create a world-class educational system while we continue to underinvest in Michigan’s schools.”
The recommendations are supported by findings from a March 2019 survey of 17,000 Michigan educators that identified a gap in literacy resources. The full recommendations are available here.
Launch Michigan is a partnership of business, education, labor, philanthropy, and civic leaders; parents; and other stakeholders.