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Launch Michigan Partnership Brings Philanthropic, Education, and Business Leaders to the Table

Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation; Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association; and Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan took Michigan’s Center Stage to discuss The Education Crisis: Michigan’s Response with Richard L. DeVore, regional president of Detroit and Southeast Michigan for PNC Financial Services Group.

Michigan’s response to the education crisis? An unprecedented partnership between philanthropic, education, and business leaders called the Launch Michigan Coalition.

The Coalition has three main goals: make Michigan one of the fastest improving states for education reform, close the achievement gaps between students of all races and backgrounds, and make sure students leaving high school are prepared for college or a career.

“Michigan has had one of the biggest education gaps in the country for 25 years, and it’s because the adults are not willing to budge. In order to make change, we must be willing to have the uncomfortable conversations.” Allen said.

All panelists agreed that Michigan’s ineffective education system is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of the educators. Herbart represented the educators’ point of view.

“If you’re talking education policy, we need educators in the room.” she said. She emphasized that educators want to be a part of the solution.

Rothwell mentioned that despite all the work that is being done, there is no short-term solution to the challenges that Michigan’s education system is facing. This is a long-term journey, committed to long-term results.

“When was the last time you saw philanthropists, business leaders, and educators getting together to address this challenge? I think we are on the precipice of something very big.” Rothwell said.

Key Takeaways:

  • In Michigan, 1 in 5 teachers leave the profession after their first year.
  • Educators want lower class sizes to spend time with their students, more training for students falling behind, and more time to plan.
  • Phase one of the Coalition has four goals that they will work on over the first year: provide support to educators, develop an accountability system for everyone, develop a finance system to provide the resources, and provide a literate population.

This session was sponsored by PNC Bank.