Policy & Systems
What’s pressing in education policy
There’s a lot of attention on education policy in Michigan, with broad recognition of the need to redesign, expand, and resource learning opportunities. We are paying attention to the priorities set by youth, educators, and residents as well as what’s gaining traction in education policy circles.
Here is what we are currently hearing and prioritizing:
- Increased funding for schools, distributed equitably. Several weighty studies and coalitions continue to call on the imperative to increase funding in schools; there is growing awareness and bipartisan commitment to increase investment in education for all students—and ensuring poverty-dense communities receive more by way of an equity multiplier or equity index. Partners like Education Trust-Midwest, Launch Michigan, 482Forward, and Fund MI Future are actively pursuing this and we are seeing strong uptake in the most recent budget discussions from the House and the Senate recommendations that continue to push on increased equitable funding. There is a deep understanding of the inequities across districts as well as to barriers of raising additional dollars through capital bonds based on home value millages. As example, DPSCD dedicated its nearly $1B in ARPA funding to support a new facility master plan but this kind of one-time infusion is insufficient. Increased investment will be needed to better meet the needs of young people in Detroit, including funding for academic supports, mental health and counseling, and on-going facility maintenance. Additionally, students and parents/caregivers are raising their voices about how these funds should be allocated and transparently communicated.
- BIPOC educators and leaders. There is a specific imperative to target pilot programs and investments to ensure more BIPOC people can enter the education profession and stay. Research continues to prove the important positive impact on BIPOC students when they are in classrooms taught by BIPOC educators. There is a vast mismatch between the demographics of the student population in the state and of our teacher workforce; moreover, BIPOC educators are leaving at a higher rate than other educators. There is an opportunity to make sure more is known about the state of BIPOC educators and to influence existing workforce shortage solutions to target BIPOC educators.
- Investment and equitable access to expanded learning and safe spaces outside of school. Young people have called for opportunities to explore their interests and talents outside of the school day, in spaces that are welcoming and safe. Several community partners have pursued creative private funding to create teen hubs and dedicated facilities for youth programming. However, summer programming in particular is inconsistent and not accessible to all. Barriers to out-of-school learning continue to be a burden on working parents who must navigate difficult choices between employment and developmental experiences for their children.
Education continues to be a top priority too for policymakers and executive office leadership. Of note:
- Afterschool ecosystem building and investment: We have funded critical organizations, worked in alignment and collaboration with other foundations working in other regions and statewide, and advocated for more Detroit provider voices to be centered and shaping how the money will be distributed. The current proposed budget recommendations, in the House and the Senate, have an unprecedented amount of money dedicated to OST programs. Through deep advocacy efforts of partners like the Michigan Afterschool Partnership and Youth Development Resource Commission, alongside other key intermediaries across the state, $25M was allocated in the FY23 budget and a tentative FY24 budget allocation of $50M with strong support from the Governor, the House and the Senate. Moreover, in partnership with the Ralph C. Wilson and Mott Foundations, a joint investment has been made to increase staffing capacity at Michigan Department of Education, who oversees distribution of these funds, to ensure they are able to build thoughtful processes to direct funding to smaller, often BIPOC-led organizations, in high need geographies and to establish a new OST council that can oversee priorities for distribution. The YDRC will play a critical role in ensuring more Detroit needs and provider voices are centered in this decision-making around resources.
- State and regional commitment to postsecondary access and success: The Michigan’s 60 x 30 Initiative continues to see increased funding and support through investments and advocacy through Labor and Economic Opportunity and Michigan Economic Development Commission at the state level. Locally, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Detroit Drives Degrees effort continues to build important coalitions between higher-ed institutions, employers, and K12 districts in the region. The Ralph C. Wilson and Ballmer Foundations just launched a $30M community college initiative and the Rocket Community Fund is spearheading the launch of a Detroit Area Talent Fund that intends to grow to $10M with private and public partnership. There is need and opportunity to ensure the voices and needs of Detroit youth are centered in these regional and state initiatives and efforts and that there is a targeted focus on the needs of early career workers (ages 18-22) in our workforce system efforts that are accelerating under partnerships between philanthropy, employers, and city/county bodies. Afterschool providers who target older youth should be valued and integrated in these efforts—as should Detroit youth, who have firsthand insights on what is needed and which organizations are trusted to deliver it.