Public Education Finance Act

Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace

Letter: Keep education reform moving

Detroit News

Reflecting on recent successful efforts by the Michigan Legislature and governor to provide students and parents more choice in education, I feel good about the progress but hope we can do more.

There is a groundswell of support from parents throughout America for increasing educational options for their children. Michigan has a chance to be on the forefront of improvement in K-12 education — if done right.

I have read numbers of articles, guest columns and email alerts in recent weeks from statewide and local public education leaders who are challenging the need for education choice and change.

In my view, this is turf protection and a senseless waste because too many students are being lost in an archaic system.

Educators who simply defend the status quo should be ashamed of the rhetoric and fear tactics they use in the media and in direct communication with families to confuse parents that want to see their children achieve full potential in school and life.

As background, let’s look at the education reforms that have taken place in Michigan in the past two years.

These include a reformed tenure system that will allow for the removal of bad teachers from the classroom; removal of the cap on university authorized public charter schools and an increase in online and dual enrollment opportunities offering parents and students more choices; a state budget rewarding best practices; and a reformed MESSA (MEA health care) system.

Moving forward, Michigan has a chance to change the entire discussion about how we provide a 21st century education to our students. This education may not be in a traditional classroom seat several hours a day, five days a week.

The entire vision of “any time, any place, any way, any pace” education reflects how everyday life has evolved in the 21st century.

We make purchases online at all hours, if it best suits our schedule. Why should the appropriate education for our children be any different? I am not advocating for the sale or commercialization of education (for those that want to jump to that conclusion); I am merely saying that as our society evolves, our current education system seems stuck in a time long past and needs a reboot.

Think of the opportunities we can provide our students if they have the option to further their education in a school of their choice, online, or in a college course. Most importantly, think of the opportunities parents would have if they knew the money was going to follow their child to the most beneficial learning environment.

A child’s education opportunity should be much broader. Education entities, traditional or new, that do a great service to kids will thrive. And most importantly, our students will have greater opportunities to succeed in life.

Jim Barrett , Chairman, Great Lakes Education Project