This story was written by the Business Leaders for Michigan and published on The Skillman Foundation’s website,, on March 21, 2018. Click here to view the original publication  of this story on

Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) recently issued its review of best practices in K–12 education and a set of principles that can lead to better student performance, with the goal of making Michigan one of the nation’s top 10 states for student learning and talent development. BLM leaders say the report is aimed at prompting an important public dialogue that leads to effective fixes for the state’s poor student outcomes.

Ideas advanced in BLM’s report and principles for improvement include:

  • Maintaining high student standards and existing state assessments of student progress
  • Effectively preparing teachers and school leaders through high quality professional development, by giving them greater access to technology and data, and by incentivizing strong results through professional recognition
  • Making sure dollars are being spent effectively to educate all students
  • Ensuring all levels of Michigan’s K–12 structure are asked to meet uniform accountability and performance standards.
  • Keeping a united, sustained effort behind strategies that work

“Too many younger workers lack the basic skills they need in literacy and math—and the problem seems to be getting worse,” said Doug Rothwell, BLM president and CEO. “It’s time for all of us to come together, learn from other states, and make things right.”

Currently, only one in four Michigan students leaves high school ready for college and career. What’s more, student achievement in math and reading—even in the very early grades—ranks among the nation’s poorest.

To accelerate action to improve Michigan’s education outcomes, a number of business, education, foundation and philanthropic organizations and individuals have aligned, including: Business Leaders for Michigan, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Education Trust Midwest, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, Skillman Foundation, the Small Business Association of Michigan and Tom Haas, GVSU President and Chair of the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission.

“We need to actively help both parents and the business community become aware of the need to improve our education system,” said Rob Fowler, president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). “If our state is serious about boosting entrepreneurship and growing opportunities for more jobs and higher incomes, we need to find meaningful solutions for addressing K–12 academic achievement.”

“We are excited about the collaboration with BLM and other organizations around the state which are committing to making Michigan a top ten education state,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “BLM brings an important voice and leadership to one of the most important issues to the state’s future and thousands of students’ futures.”

“I am pleased to see so many Michigan stakeholders pulling together for the change young learners need,” said Tonya Allen, president and CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “If we can continue to collaborate around effective solutions for students, we will almost certainly move the needle on K–12 achievement.”

Research and analysis for the report: Business Leaders’ Insights: Leading Practices in K-12 Education that Can Improve Student Outcomes in Michigan was conducted by PwC in collaboration with Business Leaders for Michigan. The data presented in this report come from several sources, most of which is publicly available. A full copy of the report is available at

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