WSW: Upjohn Institute Report Details "Road to Education Excellence"
"Michigan has a problem" according to a new report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. That problem is that student achievement has fallen behind other states.
Vice President and Senior Economist Kevin Hollenbeck lead a team of researchers that developed the report The Road Toward K-12 Excellence in Michigan. He told WMUK's Gordon Evans that the economic downturn of the last decade left Michigan falling behind other states in education funding.
But finding additional money now is not easy. Hollenbeck says the state's economy has not fully recovered from the deep recessions of the previous decade. He says economic growth would help generate more money for schools. But Hollenbeck says it's important that any additional money spent on education is directed to instruction.
The report calls for targeting resources for helping low-income students. Hollenbeck says Michigan should examine programs in other states which have seen positive results. But he says no state has done a great job of reducing the achievement gap between students from high income and low income backgrounds.
Hollenbeck says the project started as an examination of the school finance reform of the 1990's known as "Proposal A." He says it worked well until the economic downturn that began shortly after 2000. Hollenbeck says Proposal A is especially tough on districts that have a drop in enrollment. He says there should be some changes to the system of funding education. Hollenbeck says that should include giving school districts the option of asking voters for a local "enhancement millage."