Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Is there a campaign to discredit public education?

On April 27, 2011, Governor Snyder said that "only 16% of all students statewide are college-ready based on the ACT taken in spring 2010 as a part of the MME."

So I did some research.

I looked at the state of Michigan's MI-School Data website. Under the post-secondary options link I found the high school in my district - Novi High School - and looked at the data available for the graduates of 2010.

I ask the database to show me how many of the graduates of 2010 had earned 24 college credits in two years.

According to Governor Snyder, only 16% of my graduates were college ready.

Yet the data shows something different.

Of the 2010 graduates from Novi High School, within 24 months, 89.9% enrolled in college and 75.3% had earned 24 college credits.

Let me repeat that. Within 24 months (2 years) of graduation, 89.9% of the 2010 graduates of Novi High School had enrolled in college and 75.3% of them had earned 24 college credits.

Why would Governor Snyder say that on "16% of all students statewide are college ready.?"

You might defend the Governor and say that he was not talking about Novi. After all Novi is a great school district and it has students who are prepared for college.

But look at the state numbers. Using this same state of Michigan database, the numbers tell a different story than the Governor tells.

In Michigan, of the 2010 high school graduates, within 24 months 75.5% of the students had enrolled in college and 56.4% of the students in the state had earned 24 college credits.

Why is the Governor telling anyone who will listen that only 16% of students statewide are ready for college when the real numbers tell a completely different story?

I would think that the governor would want to promote that our public schools are preparing students to be successful. I would think that our Governor, who professes to be a "nerd", a numbers guy, a data-geek, would use the data to promote the good job that public schools are doing to help our state's economy. I would think that the Governor would want to attract businesses to a state where students leave high school with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in college.

Yet it does not appear that the Governor wants to do that at all.

In fact, it looks like the Governor is looking to discredit education, to embarrass public schools, to get the public to believe that we are not doing our job.

Why would the Governor want to do that?

One possible explanation is that the Governor wants to discredit public education so that he can force through educational reforms that have no track record of success. It appears that the Governor has a political agenda that he is focused on instead of focusing on the facts.

I would hope that the Governor is not trying to discredit public education to foster a political agenda but it is hard to argue against that.


Because the Governor is promoting educational reforms like the Educational Achievement Authority (Senate Bill 1358 and House Bill 6004) that would create a statewide school district that would take control of public education away from communities and put it in the hands of political appointees. The rationale used to justify this power grab is that public schools are failing.

This is the same Educational Achievement Authority that started this fall with a small group of failing schools. This reform effort has no track record of success at this point. It is only three months old. Yet the Governor is confident that this reform effort is of such quality that it should be expanded across the state. How can that be justified?

But public schools are not failing. The state's own data clearly makes that point.

I know that there are schools and districts that are not meeting the needs of the students in their care. Yet the Governor is not using a surgical approach that looks for solutions to very specific and isolated cases. He is making the case that all schools in Michigan are failing and that the majority of students are not prepared upon graduating from high school.

The only excuse for this gross misuse of data is that the governor has a political agenda.

I would urge the citizens of Michigan to pay attention to the changes that are being proposed for public education. Contact state representatives and senators and let them know that we will not stand for the Governor or for others to politicize the education of our children.


  1. Of course the Nerd has a political agenda. He's just the latest Republican (working with the Mackinac Center and ALEC) to undermine the public education system (and those who work for it) so they can turn over the public money to their corporate cronies. Too bad voters don't get it.

  2. ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council --- Boilerplate machine for Corporate take over of our entire American infrastructure - all of it.
    It began with Engler, one of the Michigan founders of ALEC. Novi is a great school district, I have worked with several people, teachers and administrators at the local, county, and state level. This kind of demagoguery by the past TWO Republican Governors has placed our entire way of life in peril. This article, by the Superintendent of the Novi Community School District should be reprinted in EVERY District Newsletter, every Union Newsletter, and in every Newspaper in Michigan.

  3. Anonymous.... fine if you don't like this legislation. But give up the ALEC thing already. You obviously spend to much time watching and reading MSNBC and the like. Good Grief!

    1. The corporations of ALEC have been writing state-level legislation for years, without any input from communities or educators. Their privatization vision for education is all spelled out in their model legislation, which can be found on the ALEC Exposed web site.

      But pay no attention to the corporations behind the curtain...

  4. Check it out. ALEC is very real. Look at who is in it, what states they represent, and what has happened in those states. They specifically say that they are looking to influence state agendas.

  5. While I can clearly see both sides to this arguement, you cannot deny that your position is politically based as well. I would urge all voters to research these issues based on facts. Google the bill numbers and read them. Decide for yourself how to vote and understand that the opinion publications like this one are biased.

  6. Just because a high school graduate enrolls in college and earns 24 college credits doesn't mean the graduate is college-ready per results of the ACT. Also, just looking at high school graduates doesn't include all the students that don't graduate from high school (what happened to no child left behind?). You can make statistics tell whatever story you want. I would be more interested to know how students are faring in their initial college courses. I was the valedictorian of my high school class and struggled with the writing standards on which I was graded by my college professors. If these high school graduates are earning college credits with Cs then I'm not sure that means a whole lot (most companies don't hire C-average college graduates). Sometimes we have to look past the surface to make a fair assessment of quality and results.

    1. That's the problem with Valedictorians. You could have taken Basket Weaving I and II for all we know. The fact you couldn't cut the writing mustard tells me you were substandard, but I bet you didn't forgo your title. As you said, look past the surface.

  7. If graduates are in college and passing, whether with C's or A's, it counts!! After all, we have past presidents who were C students. The data supports Dr. Matthews's point that graduates ARE ready for post high school education, and calls into question why over or Snyder is spreading dis- and mis- information. Yes, you are entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to distort the facts here.

  8. Totally agree with the statement that anyone can work the numbers to prove thier beliefs. The truth is usually in the middle somewhere. There are definitely schools who fail thier students, (Detroit & Flint), but there are lots of GREAT schools also. The problem with public schools is that there is so much emphasis placed on the "testing" that students learn the test, and not much else.
    Whose fault is that?

  9. The political agenda has been evident since the Engler years. It really has nothing to do with public education it has everything to do with destroying the MEA voting block. True. the MEA us bloated and very top heavy and non-responsive to the local EAs but the politicians still see it as a threat. The quest goes on to destroy any remaining piece of that organization. The damage done to the classroom teacher will be evident in the next five years. FYI over half of the CMU education major bailed out this year. If that doesn't make a statement what does.

  10. It seems to me that the governor is using a cannon, instead of a fly swatter, to kill a fly here. What I see is a gap in expectations set for seniors and college freshmen. If the real issue is that Snyder believes that high school seniors are not ready for college, what he needs to do is address the educational gap. Why are they not prepared? What are the academic expectations set by colleges in our state? How can public schools meet those expectations? We have an amazing public school system here in Michigan and the U.S. You don't destroy it to fix it- you instead collaborate with a committee of K-12 and college educators and school professionals (not reps and senators who truly have NO IDEA about education) to work on closing the gap.

  11. ROFLMAO... Ya'll are too funny. Let's see only 75% (or less) of incoming Frosh reach graduation. Looks like we left a few behind(Crain's Detroit, 10 April 2012). Based on the MDE figures less than 10% of graduating students in more that 50% of Michigan schools were not ready for college. As Adjunct faculty at a local college I see this figure up close. Just because these kids are taking 24 credits (and that is a great thing) PLEASE don't mistake it for being ready. Most are not even close. Most need to enroll in remedial everything. They can't even put together 2 coherent sentences let alone cogently express and idea in mathematics, in writing or verbally. The expectation when walking into my class room from my perspective is that they can at least read and regurgitate two to three key ideas. AND ...they can't. So quit agonizing over the politics. Focus on the job. Because from my end it really looks like you haven't.

  12. The Governor has said college-ready in ALL subjects. For 2011-12, the number of student college-ready in all subjects was 17.7%. The data is clear on mischoolsdata:


    1. Pete, Are you saying the Super's numbers are invalid? If so, why? There are definitely more kids heading toward graduation than Snyder's numbers would ever suggest.

    2. the numbers used by Governor Snyder are produced by CEPI. They aren't "his" numbers. They are the numbers reported by the schools and/or the testing entities. The super is just chooosing NOT to identify that the number refers to college-ready in ALL subjects. Many students be college-ready in fewer than the 4 subjects tested by the ACT.

      Novi's college-ready in all subjects is over 41% - much higher than the state average.

      If you think this statistic is misleading, then look at 3rd grading reading proficiency. Novi's number is over 80%. Statewide average is 62%. The old adage goes "you learn to read until 3rd grade, and then you read to learn." Michigan, as a policy, has decided that 38% of our students will be behind for the rest of their lives. Novi's numbers have not dramatically changed in the past 5 years. I like a school like Ovid-Elsie that has improved its 3rd grading level from 70% to 85% in those same five years.

  13. FYI...
    Peter Ruddell is involved with the Oxford Foundation, regarding the rewrite of the School Aid Fund.

    1. Sounds like the fox has the keys to the hen house to me!!!

    2. yes, Peter Ruddell is involved with the Oxford Foundation. I am also honest enough to identify myself on this blog.

  14. It's time to leave SOME Children behind and guide them to be productive, tax paying citizens. Not everyone is cut out for college.
    That is the #1 problem with Detroit. No one is accountable and there is NO $.
    Someone has to pay for cost of living.

    Why are we blaming teachers for every butt-reaming asshole that decides to have a kid?

    This is not about Republicans or Democrats, or Right to Work, etc. This is about holding society accountable for their choices, right or wrong.

    1. My name is John Roycroft, didn't know it posted anonymous.

  15. 24 credits in two years? That's only attending as a half-time student. If someone was truly "ready" for college, shouldn't they be able to handle at least 12 credits per semester?