Quality education in the United States is failing. It continues to lag behind other countries in many cross-national assessments. But one state may have it worse: Michigan.
In an analysis using the country’s education data, the state belongs to the lowest 10 in terms of proficiency. It is last in growth for more than a decade now.
A case in point is the declining test scores in National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). In 2005, Michigan’s fourth-grade students scored an average of 238. This is slightly higher than the nation’s average, 237. In 2015, however, it dipped to 236 — four points lower than the national. Eighth-grade students didn’t fare well either at 238, compared with the national average of 281.
The issue of quality education in the state, however, is more complex than one thinks. Professor Brian A. Jacob, who performed the NAEP analysis, attributes it to many factors.
Budget for Michigan Schools
It’s common knowledge that schools need funding, but it’s more significant in public schools that rely only on federal and state funding. In the recent state-approved budget, pupils will receive an increased budget from $60 to $120, which means a school gets to spend at least $7,631 per student.
The risk of budget cuts, however, is threatening the gains. With the Trump administration’s budget proposal, education stands to lose as much as $9 billion. It could mean a reduction of $120 million for teacher training programs of the state.
The proposed 2018 budget could also hurt the state’s STEM education as the federal government allocates almost two grant programs STEM uses to fund state schools.
Leveraging the Budget
AP Lazer, a Michigan-based tech business that supports STEM education, believes the saving grace lies in the state budget increase. Schools just have to learn to leverage it by investing in the right technologies.
These techs can include laser machines that can help enhance the students’ knowledge of science,
technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. It also fosters creativity, thinking, and collaboration.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to upgrading the state’s education. It involves cooperation among stakeholders, innovation in tech and thinking, better policies, and quality teaching.