By Derek Melot/Bridge Magazine
Observing the course of education reform in Michigan – and the mounting information that many of Michigan’s children were not being properly prepared for a 21st century world, leaders at the Center for Michigan, a nonprofit, nonpartisan “think-and-do tank” in Ann Arbor struck on a simple idea:
Find out what the public – the actual consumers of the state’s public educational system – thinks about Michigan’s current school system and, most importantly, what actions to take to improve.
So, in 2012, CFM embarked on its most ambitious public engagement campaign yet: Community Conversations on the Future of Education & Student Learning.
This project was focused on current shortfalls and potential future improvements to pre-K-12 achievement and student learning in Michigan schools. CFM ultimately hosted 264 Community Conversations in every region of Michigan, involving 5,823 state residents, the demography closely mirroring the diversity of our state. To ensure accuracy and statistical rigor, these data were combined with two rounds of phone polling, reaching approximately 1,900 additional state residents.
The result: “The Public’s Agenda on Public Education,” a 40-page report detailing the public input on the current situation and a variety of potential reform initiatives, from bolstered teacher preparation to greater investment in early childhood classes to changes in the school calendar.
Public Opinion Snapshots from the Report