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Governor and State Superintendent call for greater accountability, more flexibility
Offering few details, but broad generalities, Gov. Rick Snyder gave a preview Monday of a special message on education he will deliver in Detroit on Wednesday. Snyder said the changes he will spell out "will not be easy" but will improve the performance of Michigan's schools.
Snyder spoke at the 16th annual Governor's Education Summit at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. He led off with statistics that highlight the poor performance of Michigan's schools relative to those in other states and said he wants changes that focus on proficiency, growth, measurement and results.
He also said he wants more transparency and accountability.
Snyder is to deliver his special message on education at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the offices of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
Snyder said his focus is a holistic approach to education from pre-natal to life-long learning. He said early childhood education is important and should involve "a public and private partnership."
He said only 16 percent of high school graduates are college-ready, based on ACT scores, and the state ranks 39th in math performance and 33rd in eighth grade reading proficiency.
"We need to do better," and "this … will not be an easy change," Snyder said in a room largely filled with educators and school administrators.
"Think about all the great talent, all the great resources in our system, and yet we're not achieving the results we have to achieve."
Snyder said he wants to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship by giving schools certain benchmarks and allowing more autonomy in how best to reach those goals. He wants a system in which students receive one year of growth each year, he said.
The governor, who established "dashboards" to measure the performance of each state department in various areas, said he wants similar dashboards created for each school district and each school.
"The best part about measurement is not to have measurement as a way to penalize people but to have measurement as a way to recognize success," he said.
The governor said the way many things in education are done today is rooted in Michigan's past, not its future. For example, he said the reason students get the summer off is related to the state's agrarian past and the need to have them home for an extended period to work on the farm.
The Detroit News reported Thursday teacher tenure, increased flexibility in class hours, better use of online educational tools and charter schools will be among the topics Snyder will address Wednesday.
Before Snyder spoke today, Mike Flanagan, Michigan's schools superintendent, told the same group that if it were up to him he would remove virtually all school regulations.
"We need to take away the barriers … to teaching and learning," Flanagan said.
"It's just the system that's broken; it's not the people in the system," he said. "It doesn't serve the needs of this kind of new age and new technology that we're faced with."