Introducing The Skillman Visionary Awards

There is a Direct Line Between Quality Public Education and Quality of Life

This piece was originally published with the Detroit Regional Chamber

If fewer than 20% of Detroiters believe children have access to high-quality public schools, as the Detroit Resident Voices Survey Report suggests, the first question is: how does one define a quality school?

We have asked Detroiters of all ages. The Skillman Foundation supports Detroit youth, families, and educators to have their say in the design of the education system. Understanding their bold vision for schools in Detroit and across Michigan and how we get there is the heart of our work.

Quality means the basic building blocks are more than covered. Resources are poured into reading, math, and the sciences. This is a starting point. This is a basic human right.

Quality means access to arts, athletics, and afterschool programming that nourishes the mind and soul.

Quality means up-to-date technology and learning. This requires teachers to spend a significant amount of time learning as well.

High-quality public schools produce entrepreneurial, civic-minded, creative thinkers who feed into the workplace and revolutionize the economy.

Regardless of whether we have children in public schools, this matters to all of us. Education systems are intrinsically linked to all Michiganders’ ability to thrive. There is a direct bright line between the quality of our public education system and the quality of life of all Michiganders.

How do we get there?

We need people most proximate to school realities today — students, educators, afterschool providers, parents, and caregivers — to shape education policies that transform our outdated system.

We also need to measure differently. Test scores are not measuring student potential as much as they are measuring the education system’s failures. Let’s measure how many scholars are thinking critically, creatively, and working collaboratively. Let’s measure ways the education system supports children of all socio-economic backgrounds to thrive academically, physically, and emotionally. Let’s measure how we invest in teachers through professional development and wages, honoring the valor of one of our most important professions.

At The Skillman Foundation, we are calling on everyone to make Michigan the place to come because the schools are redefining the future, starting with the city of innovation and soul — Detroit.

Angelique Power

Angelique Power is the president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation.

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