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New State of Education Report Details Education and Talent Needs of the Region

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s inaugural State of Education report serves as a call to action that change is needed to improve outcomes for education and talent to guarantee economic prosperity for the region. Chamber Chief Operating Officer Tammy Carnrike presented the report to more than 150 attendees at the new State of the Region session “Detroit 2030: From Education Crisis to Talent Hub.” Here are the key takeaways:

Though disparities in postsecondary outcomes exist between the city and the region, the region as a whole lags behind the nation in key measures

The leaks in the regional talent pipeline, where students are dropping off before earning a degree, exist not at just one stage but are prevalent throughout the pipeline.

With only 47% of regional students who enroll in college persisting to graduate after six years, there is a need to not just enroll students in postsecondary education but to ensure they earn a degree or credential, according to the Michigan Education Data Center.

The Detroit region, more than any of its national peers, must make education attainment a top priority to compete in today’s increasingly complex economy.

According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey One-Year Estimates, there are 694,995 regional adults who have postsecondary experience, but “stopped out” before earning a credential. Reengaging these adult students provides a significant opportunity for increasing education attainment.

In 2017, 36% of college graduates left the state within 12 months of graduating, according to Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. Keeping the educated talent in our state post-graduation will contribute to increasing the population of adults with degrees.

State of Education: Detroit’s Turnaround

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, discussed the city’s challenges in improving its schools, naming poor infrastructure and need for support from the business community as some of its challenges. Carnrike discussed with Vitti the district’s achievements in recent years, and its areas for opportunity.

Detroit students lag behind students in surrounding school districts because of economic inequality, said Vitti. Public schools in wealthier districts receive considerably more funding per student, giving them the advantage over Detroit students.

“To educate the average Detroiter takes more funding than educating the average Birmingham student,” Vitti said.

Students also face non-academic relation issues, Vitti explained. He notes that social-economic factors should not be discounted, including food and housing, and that Michigan has been stagnant from a systems policy perspective.

“We have to think about strategies and investments to change that.”

Carnrike asked Vitti on what he considers to be the district’s two-year priority challenges. Vitti named investing in teachers, career opportunities for students, and infrastructure.

“Facilities do matter – our schools are deteriorating,” said Vitti. “By 2023, our buildings would need 1.5 billion dollars. The state does not mark one cent for capital improvement.”

While the district struggles in many areas, it has made strides in recent years. Enrollment has increased for the first time in over a decade, said Vitti. And most students showed improvement individually.

“Our level of improvement outpaced the rest of the state,” said Vitti.