Hundreds of Michiganders will join together this morning at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to discuss inequities in Michigan public education and how we can work together to address these serious challenges.

Don’t miss the great conversation! We’re streaming the full event on Facebook Live. See below for full event information.


LIVE STREAM: Opportunity for All: 2019 State of Michigan Education Conference

Click to view and share the live stream. Begins on Jan. 16 at 9:00 AM.

Conference Agenda

View speaker bios and additional conference information at:


  • Amber Arellano, Executive Director, The Education Trust-Midwest

9:20 AM  – PANEL: “Our struggle is for genuine equality;” Opportunities and challenges around  an equitable public education in Michigan

  • Melody Arabo, Outreach Specialist,; former Michigan Teacher of the Year
  • David E. Meador, Vice  Chairman & Chief Administrative Officer, DTE Energy
  • Kristin Totten, Education Attorney, ACLU of Michigan
  • Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Bridge Magazine (Moderator)

10:05 AM – KEYNOTE

  • Curtis Lewis, Ph.D., Founder, Black Male Educators Alliance of Michigan (BMEA); Executive Director, Curriculum and Instruction, Detroit 90/90 (introduction)
  • John B. King, Jr, President & CEO, The Education Trust; fmr. U.S. Secretary of Education


  • John B. King, Jr, President & CEO, The Education Trust; fmr. U.S. Secretary of Education
  • Rochelle Riley, Columnist, Detroit Free Press (moderator)

10:55 AM – PANEL: “The fierce urgency of now;” Putting Michigan on the path toward overcoming inequities

  • John B. King, Jr, President & CEO, The Education Trust; fmr. U.S. Secretary of Education
  • Teresa Weatherall Neal, Superintendent of School, Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District
  • Rochelle Riley, Columnist, Detroit Free Press (moderator)


  • Amber Arellano, Executive Director, The Education Trust-Midwest
  • Alice G. Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Black Family Development, Inc.

Michigan lawmakers have ignored inequities in education for too long

The following excerpt is from a guest opinion column by Amber Arellano and John B. King, Jr., published in the Detroit Free Press on January 15. Read the full article here.

This winter, Michiganders will mark two years since unacceptable conditions in Detroit public schools were widely exposed in heartbreaking detail in a court filing: students expected to learn in crumbling buildings and freezing conditions, among vermin infestations, not to mention a shortage of classroom teachers, books and engaging curricula. As we stated on our recently-filed brief supporting the right of Detroit students to learn, “[t]he problem in Detroit’s school district is not the children. The problem is Detroit’s schools.” Grave inequities between schools in Detroit and surrounding communities are a bleak indictment; they must no longer be ignored.

We proudly stand with the students of Detroit in demanding a quality education and, indeed, educational justice for young people who have been underserved and disenfranchised for far too long — insisting that state leaders take responsibility for providing an education to all students that prepares them for college, careers, and beyond.

In Michigan, fewer than 20 percent of black third-grade students and about 30 percent of Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds are reading and writing at grade level, compared to more than half of their white peers. The numbers are far worse in Detroit, where only about one in 10 students in third grade are proficient in those subjects.

These gaping disparities are indefensible. Ensuring progress toward an equitable and just education is absolutely critical to fulfilling the promise of America — and long overdue.

Students in Detroit and other struggling school systems are not behind their peers by their own choice or by chance. A history of underserving vulnerable communities, indefensible policies and wholesale neglect have led us to this place.

Michigan has the opportunity to begin to right historic wrongs and ensure that no child is allowed to advance to high school graduation unable to read. Instead of excusing the inexcusable and assigning blame, the state should take responsibility for its most sacred duty: ensuring a bright future for Michigan by insisting on an excellent and equitable education for every Michigan public school student.

Read the full article here.

Ballmer Group Supports Efforts to Improve Educational Equity through a Grant to The Education Trust-Midwest

A recently announced grant from Ballmer Group will support the efforts of The Education Trust-Midwest to build a durable movement for educational equity and excellence for all students in metropolitan Detroit and Michigan.

“Ensuring that every metropolitan Detroit student has access to an excellent education is essential for making the American Dream truly accessible to all,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.  “We are honored and excited to partner with Ballmer Group to deepen our efforts as we work alongside many partners and equity-focused allies.”

Ballmer Group announced support for Education Trust-Midwest as a part of a $16 million inaugural round of funding in southeast Michigan, aimed at helping children and families in the region rise out of poverty. In awarding these funds, Ballmer Group co-founders Connie and Steve Ballmer noted the importance of leveraging the existing good work of area nonprofits.

“In making these initial commitments in southeast Michigan, we did not seek to create new programs or launch new initiatives,” wrote the Ballmers. “Our grants are intended to strengthen nonprofits that have built strong community partnerships and extend the enormous potential of government support.”

Centered around the idea that every child deserves an equal chance to achieve the American Dream, Ballmer Group supports efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. Steve Ballmer, co-founder of Ballmer Group and former CEO of Microsoft, grew up in Southeast Michigan.

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All morning we will be tweeting event highlights using #opp4all.