Education Advocates of West Michigan
A world-class economy requires world class talent
The K-12 community in West Michigan wants to be an integral partner in working with employers and universities to help young people attain the skills they need to succeed in a competitive and demanding marketplace.
Throughout our region, we are finding ways to partner with business and higher education to provide new relevance to students as they tackle more rigorous standards. Our students are better prepared today than ever before to tackle the challenges of post-secondary education and the workplace. Staff and students alike are meeting the challenges of the Michigan Merit Curriculum .
Still, more must be done. Michigan ranks 44th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia on the ACT test and sixth among the nine states in which 100 percent of students take the ACT. A college entrance exam alone does not measure the quality of education achieved, but it is an indicator of college and career readiness that cannot be ignored.
Even though Michigan's student performance data is trending upward, it's not fast enough. Many in the legislature and in education policy think tanks continue to propose market based reforms to improve our return on education investment.
A New Approach to Education Reform
Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa intermediate school districts are taking a new approach to education reform. We are working to establish direct partnerships with business organizations such as our local chambers and the regional Talent 2025 initiative. We are working to establish early college partnerships with community colleges and universities.
The three intermediate districts representing the population center of West Michigan are joining together to share an education advocate well known and positioned in the business community to help us better inform the dialogue surrounding education reform in our region.
In short, we are working together to identify what really does work, and what does not. And we are joining together, the three intermediate districts representing the population center of West Michigan, to share an education advocate well known and well positioned in the business community to help us better inform the dialogue surrounding education reform in our region.
If more choices were the answer to improved student achievement, Michigan would immediately become a Top 10 performer among all global entities, because there are few places in the world where families have more choice among their traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools and online entities than Michigan.
Improved student achievement requires the absolute best teachers in the classroom, students who are engaged, and families who are involved and informed about the career opportunities available for their children. New schools and parallel administrative structures are not the answer.
We in West Michigan know the answer well, because we model it in virtually every public-private partnership in which we participate. The answer is working to identify the gaps between student preparation and employer/post-secondary preparation, and working together to identify ways to bridge those gaps. We also must make students and their families aware of the opportunities in our region, and build both a knowledge base and enthusiasm for the opportunities available.
We cannot achieve these goals by working in silos as we have in the past. We must adopt different strategies and, when an opportunity presents itself, make decisions that demonstrate our commitment to a new course of action. Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa intermediate school districts comprise the West Michigan Talent Triangle. We are joining together to take this new course of action, to demonstrate our commitment to productive education reform, and to bring our advocacy efforts together with the business community to achieve a better future.
Education Advocates of West Michigan Vision and Mission
Develop a world-class workforce in West Michigan by ensuring students are college and career ready.
The Education Advocates of West Michigan believes that cooperation amongst the talent community is critical to meeting the needs of our communities and economy. The talent community is comprised of all actors and agents that provide or receive educational services.
Proactively advocate for student- centered, evidence-based policies that ensure students are college and career ready.
This work will be accomplished through collaboration with the talent community to meet the needs of our regional economy.
Key Strategic Operating Principles
- Legislative and community advocacy efforts are driven by a mutually beneficial need to develop a world-class work force in West Michigan.
- The work is pro-active in that it will intentionally engage the ideas and understanding of diverse stakeholders committed to the common goal of world-class talent development. The WMTT will work to author and influence legislative proposals.
- The work is student-centered and collaborative; sensitive to the rich educational diversity in the region.
The WMTT will align its advocacy work with established benchmarks that ensure students are meeting key educational targets on their way to becoming college and career ready. The proposed benchmarks include:
- Kindergarten Readiness (metric: Michigan Model for School Readiness)
- 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency (metrics: MEAP and/or other national, state and local assessments)
- 8th Grade Math Scores (metrics: MEAP and/or other national, state and local assessments)
- College and Career Ready (metrics: ACT, NCRC, remedial coursework, median income, unemployment)