How Do We Prepare Our Kids For Jobs, Future?

More than 80% of students aren’t ready for college

BY LORI HIGGINS
FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER

Renee Boogren of Troy has two compelling reasons for wanting Michigan to make its schools more challenging.

She’s a mother. She’s also a biology teacher at Wayne State University who sees the results of kids who come to college unprepared.

It’s most notable in their writing skills.

“One student wrote a lab report that was supposed to be an analysis of the effect of things on seed germination,” Boogren said. Instead, the student “wrote more of an essay that concluded with how much he likes plants.”

The facts are these: More than 80% of Michigan students are graduating from high school without the skills to tackle college-level work. Millions of dollars are being spent on remedial education in the state’s higher-education institutions. Fewer than half of Michigan kids actually go to college.

Ten years ago, Michigan students scored above the U.S. average on a key national barometer of student achievement. Today, test scores have slipped below those of students in many other states, fueled in part by the disastrous performance of Detroit Public Schools and other underperforming districts.

“We’re an average state in a below-average country,” state schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan said. “That’s not OK in this global economy.”

The reality is that Michigan faces a dismal future unless it can lure more businesses with the promise of a well-educated workforce.

The Legislature must address funding issues. Experts say educators and others must reexamine the way we teach our kids and the expectations we have of them.

Michiganders like Renee Boogren agree. The state must do that, she said, or “you’re doing kids a disservice.”

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