Seven decades after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, Michigan students of color continue to face devastating educational inequities in deeply under-resourced public schools. Today, they are far more likely to be enrolled in Michigan public schools with the highest concentrations of poverty, where they are more likely, on average, to face vastly different opportunities than do their affluent White peers in the state’s wealthiest school districts, according to the newly-released 2024 State of Michigan Education Report, Brown’s Hope: Fulfilling the Promise in Michigan, by The Education Trust-Midwest.  

Today a coalition of diverse leaders across the state are launching a new campaign to call attention to not only decades of neglect to Black, Latino/a students and students from low-income backgrounds and the resources and supports their public schools need and deserve but also to the urgent need to address profound pandemic learning losses that students who are underserved were especially hard hit by.

For decades, Michigan did not have a mechanism to address the legacy of racial and socio-economic segregation in our state’s public schools. Today, we do – and we have a responsibility to use it. State legislators can do just that by investing fairly in the state’s new Opportunity Index, a historic new funding change that became law in 2023. 

The new Opportunity for All campaign includes a publicly accessible website, where Michiganders can compare how much more their local school district would receive if the state invested in students from low-income backgrounds at the same level as Massachusetts, the nation’s leading education state. The campaign’s new website also offers new tools to allow Michiganders to see the difference it would make in their own local school districts if Michigan fully funded its current long-term goals for investing in students from low-income backgrounds. 

Among the findings cited in the new report: 

  • This year nearly half of all Michigan students of color and two-thirds of all Black students in Michigan attend public school in districts with high concentrations of poverty where 73% or more of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, compared to only 13% of Michigan’s White students learning in those same school districts. 
  • Michigan students in districts with the highest concentrations of poverty are much less likely to be in classrooms with highly experienced teachers who are, on average, more likely to be effective. Research shows that teachers are the single most important in-school factor related to student success, highlighting the critical need for effective teachers in all classrooms.  
  • School funding disparities undermine higher-poverty districts’ capacity to support their students’ educational recovery from the pandemic. Had Michigan returned to its 2006 school funding levels by 2016, our state would have invested 20 percent more — or $22 billion dollars more — on K-12 public education between 2016 and 2021. High-poverty districts bear the brunt of that lack of investment. 

Michigan has an opportunity now to ensure public education far better serves all students, especially Black and Latino/a children and children from low-income backgrounds, who have been underserved for too long.