The Center for Michigan released the results of survey of Michigan citizens yesterday, a survey that shows that an overwhelming number of citizens believe the state should 1) expand early childhood education 2) provide stronger support to educators 3) improve teacher education/preparation and 4) hold educators accountable for student success.
There was far, far less support for schools of "choice," charter or otherwise, and an expansion of on line schools.
The survey is thus notable for the radical disconnect it reveals between Governor Snyder's 2011-2012 school reform plan -- that features choice and on line schools as the keys to improving schools -- and the preferences of the citizenry.
You wouldn't know this, however, if you scanned The Detroit News account of this survey or The Troy Patch account which concentrates on the "grading" of public schools by citizens (a "C"). Not surprisingly, those in urban centers rated schools lower than those in upper income areas.
Our habit of denigrating teachers is now so thoroughly instilled by the likes of Studentfirsters and Arne Duncan that even a survey that shows people want to change that gets twisted.
That said, this is a good survey. It shows that Governor Snyder and at least some in Lansing are listening finally to some beyond The Mackinac Center. Early Childhood Education was featured in his state of the state, for example. HB6004, the star of the lame duck session, has been rewritten so that it actually makes sense to public schools and the EAA itself -- who, it turns out, had no interest in becoming a "state wide District" with the power to seize property.
If, though, the Governor truly wants to reform schools in a way that will satisfy the desires of a great majority of citizens he will have to continue to engage with people outside the Richard McLellan world.
a) Early Childhood specialists and educators
b) Teachers and parents who want the non-stop bashing of teachers not only stopped, but reversed so that teachers actually get the support and standing they get in high performing public education systems such as Finland
c) University faculty and administrators outside of The Central Michigan think tank for charters. These are the people designing, developing, and facilitating the preparation of teachers in a state that is still dead last in higher education funding. Talk about disconnect.
d) Teacher unions who do, finally, need to give on their willingness to protect bad teachers.