Michigan’s children will be our next scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, parents, laborers, artists and lawmakers, and our future depends on preparing them for education, work, and life. There is universal agreement that a high-quality K-12 education matters for our future, but our results are not meeting the outcomes we need. By the time poor children are in the 6th grade, they have spent 6,000 fewer hours learning, resulting in gaps in their academic success. By the third grade, white students are well above their peers of color in reading, by the eight grade those gaps are even larger for math outcomes. High school dropout rates remain higher for Black, Hispanic and American Indian students, and for those facing life challenges like poverty, disability and homelessness.
Years of research and the lived experience of youth and families have taught us that in order to succeed, students need: parents and caregivers who have tools to support their children’s learning at home; trained school professionals who can recognize and respond to students needs; access to basic resources that are essential to learning; and academic tools and pathways that enable their educational success.