Michigan citizens want more support for educators, survey says

Three-quarters of Michiganders say providing stronger support for educators is "critical" or "important" if the state is to improve student learning, according to a new survey released this week that attempts to find out what Michigan citizens want when it comes to improving K-12 education.

Michiganders overwhelmingly favor developing "a stronger support system for educators once they're in the classroom, according to the survey, released by the Center for Michigan, a centrist think tank based in Ann Arbor.

"Options include more intense mentoring to help new teachers and administrators master their craft, ongoing in-depth training and evaluation of educator performance and development of more master teachers -- true experts in the performance of their craft," the Center for Michigan said in its survey report.

Improving teacher preparation is also extremely important to citizens, who want to "raise the bar for entry into education degree programs, require deeper mastery of the subjects teachers teach and institute tougher standards for teacher certification," according to the report. The public's strong support for teacher certification serves in stark contrast to policy proposals that weaken or remove teacher certification requirements.

A vast majority of Michiganders also strongly support expanding early childhood education and reducing class sizes, the survey found.

Strengthening support for educators, improving teacher preparation, reducing class sizes and expanding preschool are all significantly more important to Michigan citizens than other "reforms" like expanding school choice or launching more cyber schools, according to the survey.

In fact, expanding cyber schools and school choice ended up at the very bottom of the list of reforms supported by Michiganders, according to the survey.

"We find considerably less enthusiasm for expanding school choice -- an approach under intense consideration in Lansing," the Center for Michigan said. "In both our community conversations and polls, fewer than one in five participants say it is 'crucial' to expand school choice."

"Likewise, we do not find clear public urgency to expand online learning opportunities," the Center for Michigan report said. "In short, the public is somewhat skeptical -- especially if it means replacing traditional brick-and-mortar schools with more online-only schools."