Detroit Regional Chamber > Chamber > Power: Michigan Can Make Community College Free For Every High School Graduate

Power: Michigan Can Make Community College Free For Every High School Graduate

June 13, 2024

Detroit Free Press
Angelique Power
June 13, 2024

Last week I met a 16-year-old high school student named Layla. A combination of slightly shy and remarkably self-possessed, she talked about how college had always been a dream, and a source of worry due to the high cost to her family. As we walked through the bright, welcoming halls of the Livonia Career Technical Center, a hands-on facility where high schoolers learn technical skills, it was clear Layla is not alone, and it was also clear we desperately need young voices like Layla’s at the policy table.

Every child in Michigan, regardless of income, should be guaranteed an excellent education that sets them up for success.

Young people need more time in school, and more support through every step of the way to ensure they are ready to take on the world. An excellent and equitable education system starts early and goes until every single student is future ready – extending public education two years past high school to help ensure success.

Related: Sandy K. Baruah: Make the ‘K – 12 + 2’ Approach Michigan’s Next Education Step

In her State of the State address, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed the Michigan Guarantee, which would deliver free pre-K to every 4-year-old, and tuition-free community college for every high school graduate. If delivered on, the Michigan Guarantee would make our state the first in the nation to offer free, universal access to both pre-K and community college. It would change Michigan’s trajectory, elevating educational outcomes, family incomes, and our economic future.

The data are clear. Children who attend pre-K have better reading and math scores, are more likely to graduate high school, go on to college, and earn more money. Parents whose children attend pre-K save an average of $10,000 a year, and forge stronger ties to their communities.