House workgroup hears business input on public education

“Businesses in Michigan…How Do They Want to See Us Educate Our Children” was the agenda description for Wednesday’s meeting of the House Education Reform Workgroup. The committee heard presentations by a number of business owners, human resource personnel and the Grand Rapids Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

The overall tone of the testimony was quite positive and issue oriented, as opposed to the theme of public school/public employee bashing which has dominated the past few months.  The recurring themes put forth were that the State of Michigan needs to make more of an investment in early childhood education, de-stigmatize vocational occupations, make vocational education more attractive and accessible, and make education more relevant so that we turn out students who are problem solvers and critical thinkers. 

Michigan’s mandatory high school curriculum was blamed by many speakers for causing perceived problems in schools, ranging from forcing students away from vocational/technical education, being too test oriented, causing students not to have time for field trips, and not allowing exposure to career choices and elective courses.

The education reform workgroup is scheduled to meet at 11:00 a.m. every Wednesday in July and August.  The chairs of the workgroup, Representative Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) and Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc), have not indicated how they plan to focus the information that is coming into the workgroup or what legislation might result.