Today the Education Trust-Midwest – an organization focused on pragmatic solutions that move our state forward – issued that call to action in its 2020 State of Michigan Education Report, A Marshall Plan: Reimagining Michigan Public Education.

“As the U.S. rightfully confronts longstanding inequality and racial injustice, Michiganders have a historic opportunity to address decades-long underinvestment in education and opportunity gaps disproportionately impacting students of color, students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners and students in rural communities,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the nonpartisan The Education Trust-Midwest.”

The state’s leaders are at an important moment to commit to shielding vulnerable students from budget cuts – and to ensure their educational recovery is an utmost public priority in our state this year, Arellano added.

The report offers a pragmatic, solutions-based educational recovery agenda for COVID-19. The Michigan Achieves! campaign aims to make Michigan a top ten education state for all groups of students and reports on progress and performance indicators on a range of research-based issues.

“Michigan’s Black and Brown, and rural and low-income students, are no less talented than the children of other states,” Arellano added.

Decades of high stakes decisions by the state’s leaders have led Michigan to become among America’s most inequitable and unfair states for the gaps between what the state invests between poor and affluent schools, Arellano said, adding that the state cannot afford to return to the “old normal” – a system that is unfair and vastly inequitable.

“We need a ‘new normal’ that equitably invests in all communities and recognizes every child’s innate capacity to learn at high levels, no matter the color of their skin, the language they speak or their zip code,” she said.

The report includes six key recommendations on:

  • Fair investment
  • Honest Information, Transparency and Public Reporting
  • Extended Learning Time
  • Quality Virtual Instruction and Access
  • Inclusivity and Socioemotional Supports
  • Transitions to Postsecondary Opportunities

“Our schools are struggling greatly to improve key predictors of Michigan students’ future lifetime earnings and academic success,” Arellano added. “The learning outcomes of rural, low-income, African American, Latino and immigrant children are not simply the concerns of communities of color or the Upper Peninsula. This is about Michigan’s future economic success — and whether all Michigan’s children will have the skills they need to succeed in the global economy.”

Pointing to Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine (R) as a model for Michigan to prioritize equity and investment in vulnerable students, Ed Trust-Midwest highlights the importance of taking an equitable approach to state budget cuts. It also calls for state leaders to equitably distribute federal stimulus dollars to better support rural and poor districts’ critical work to mitigate COVID-19 learning losses.

“We can do this,” Arellano said. “In a state that continues to struggle greatly to improve learning outcomes, it is critical policymakers minimize cuts to all schools and prioritize investment in kids who most need support.”