WSW: Rice Under "No Illusions" But Sees Opportunity In State Superintendent's Job

May 15, 2019

Credit WMUK

Kalamazoo Schools Superintendent Michael Rice says despite many “headwinds” the Kalamazoo district has been able to increase graduation rates. Rice says those challenges have included a reduction in “inflation adjusted funding” and a more difficult Michigan Merit Curriculum. Rice says it’s hard to know how much the increase in graduation rates is due to the Kalamazoo Promise, but he says it is a factor. 

Rice has been Kalamazoo Superintendent for the last 12 years, but he will soon become state Superintendent of Public Instruction in Michigan. The state Board of Education picked Rice for the job earlier this month.

Rice says many things have contributed to boosting graduation rates. He says when the school board set long-term goals in 2009, they wanted to raise all academic indicators in the district. He says other initiatives such as all-day kindergarten and Advanced Placement participation helped improve the district’s performance. Rice says KPS also worked to ensure that underrepresented populations were included in AP classes.

WMUK's Southwest Brief with Michael Rice

Rice says as state Superintendent he wants to address funding for public schools, early childhood education, literacy, career and technical training and the shortage of teachers. He says districts are struggling to hire staff. Rice says there has been a denigration of teachers. He says if that isn’t addressed “we’re going to be in really profound trouble as a state.” 

Rice says he is looking forward to working with Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I’ve not met a more pro-education governor in my career.” Rice says “I’m not going in there with any illusions that I come with a lot of authority, but I do think that I have a lot of opportunity to influence certain debates.”