Vision for Michigan

Becoming a Top Ten State

A Brighter Future Built on Proven Results

We have long dreamt of making Michigan a Top 10 Education State — a state where our public education system would rank among the top 10 in the nation.

We believe every Michigan student should have access to a strong foundation for early literacy, top teaching talent, well-resourced classrooms, and college- and career-ready coursework. Every student should have an excellent education in schools that are nurturing spaces that allow them to flourish and excel.

For Michigan students to soar, our state should prioritize what we know works in leading education states, starting with these:


A truly fair and equitable funding system is the foundation on which our vision to become a Top Ten State for Education is built. To recruit and retain top teaching talent, provide well-resourced classrooms, and to create opportunities for all students across our great state, districts must receive fair funding. We envision a system where every child, including those who have been long underserved – children of color, students with disabilities, multilingual learners, and children from low-income backgrounds – have the resources they need to thrive. A well-resourced and supported public education system benefits everyone: students, parents, teachers, and society. We believe Michigan can have such a system.


Any Top 10 educational system must begin with coordinated and research-based early learning. Unfortunately, Michigan’s current approach to early literacy improvement leaves far too much to chance that young students’ reading levels will improve. Leading states like Massachusetts and Tennessee have implemented systemic reforms like the adoption of higher standards, broad-based support for early childhood educators, and statewide accountability to ensure districts and students receive the support they need. Michigan must redouble efforts to support a strategic, coordinated, statewide strategy for early learning to ensure all our students begin their educational journeys on the right foot.


In 2006, Michigan passed a comprehensive set of graduation requirements, known as the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC), designed to make students’ high school experiences more rigorous. Crafted with noble intentions, the MMC implementation faced many challenges, including serious staffing challenges in rural and urban communities. Despite these challenges, research has found that, under the MMC, Michigan students took and passed more mathematics courses and some student groups saw increases in post-secondary enrollment. Michigan has the opportunity now to double down on the foundational beliefs of the MMC: all students should have full access to rigorous coursework that prepares them well for college and career opportunities not only in the immediate term but for their lifetimes. We need to be more assertive and thoughtful about implementing the MMC well and strengthening it through rigorous end-of-course tests aligned with state standards.


We know that teachers play many roles in our students’ lives, including being the single most important school-based factor in their academic success, and we believe Michigan teachers should be paid for the many roles they play. States like Arizona and North Carolina are leading the way in testing and innovating career pathways for teachers. Michigan can and should take steps to formally recognize the many roles in which teachers serve — such as mentor, coach, master teacher and others — give those teachers the opportunity for higher pay and present them with pathways to advance in their careers while continuing to impact students as educators. To meaningfully improve outcomes for all students, Michigan also should be leveraging data from the statewide teacher evaluation system to better support teachers and their needs as professionals. After all, educators deserve honest feedback that’s aligned with national college- and career-ready standards — and parents need to know teachers and principals are getting such feedback. The system should also be leveraged to ensure educators have access to coaching and tailored, individualized feedback and consistent support, especially early career teachers and new principals.


A truly top-notch education system prioritizes transparency and recognizes the importance of parents in the education of children. To be true partners in their children’s education, Michigan parents need timely, accurate, and easily accessible information on their children’s academic performance. Educators and parents in Tennessee can receive individual student “projection reports” that signal whether a student is on track to graduate from high school and even how ready the student is for college and career entrance exams — as early as elementary school. Such data would allow Michigan educators to intervene earlier in students’ academic careers, tailor instruction and improve teaching strategies. Imagine what parents, teachers and school leaders could do, together, if they knew a fourth grader is already off track to be college- and career-ready. The potential for helping our students is enormous.


Appropriate funding and resources for students to have access to an excellent education is necessary, but alone it is not enough. To improve student learning and outcomes, those resources must also be spent efficiently and effectively to drive improved learning outcomes. Illinois has taken huge steps in creating a user-friendly dashboard to help everyone from parents to policymakers understand how education dollars are being spent in relation to student demographics and academic outcomes. Michigan lacks a system which allows the public to evaluate easily if dollars targeted to students from specific backgrounds are reaching those students at the school level and the effectiveness of spending at the school level for impact on student learning. An important first step toward more equitable student funding in Michigan is directing any new additional resources first towards high-needs schools and districts. The state must also ensure that the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks are in place to ensure these additional dollars get to the schools where students with greater needs attend and are spent in ways that improve classroom learning.