Thursday, May 05, 2005

Higher Education: Promise or Dream? PBS Broadcast

Michigan Higher Education: Promise or Dream

Last night (5/4/05) I watched a program @ 8:00 pm on PBS called Michigan Higher Education: Promise or Dream. I have written previous posts about Michigan Education based on newspaper articles, state board of education web site, television interviews and newscasts.

Please folks, take an interest in education do not leave it to others, at least form your own opinions and you better start attending “Town Hall Meetings” (explained below). I have taken the time to offer some information (not knowledge).

This program, which lasted an hour, was straightforward and revealing about the state of affairs in Michigan regarding education.

The moderator for the discussions was Bill Poorman of the “Michigan Radio Network.”
They often have audio replays of interviews at:

I know most of you with children in school or college watched this program and gave up your regularly watching of “Lost” or “American Idol” for this week. However, for those of you who didn’t here are some highlights and comments (of course).

1. Started off with an up beat-recorded speech by Governor Granholm on her goal of stressing college for all students.

2. Ed Sarpolus VP of Epic MRA ( described some of the survey results:
· Parents talk a good game when it comes to saying they want their kids to go to college (more than 50% said no)
· Even well off parents who could afford the tuition said no.
· Parents just don’t get it yet, when students when asked about career goals for children many said “Be Happy.” Not doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc Question # 34 on survey.
· 50% of the kids don’t trust teachers, they don’t blame schools, they believe it’s the child’s fault

Survey results can be found at:

qualityg says…
· Parents talk a good game – I must agree, there are many parents I come in contact with that rely on the school systems and teachers to do their work. There is nothing more important facing parents today (Post 9/11) than to support their children with patience, positive support and the understanding that learning is a life long activity. We parents (qualityg too) need to teach our kids to be flexible and resilient in a world filled with chaos and confusion.
· There is always something about surveys that leave a bad taste in my mouth. Do the questions get interpreted as stand-alone (independent) or are they looked at as a whole (interdependent). Without having face-to-face follow up discussions on open-ended questions (this question was) leaves one to interject their subjective opinions.
· Example: “Be Happy” What does that mean, did the survey ask? It seemed Mr. Sarpolus was troubled by this answer. When I look over the completed survey results as a whole I see many interdependencies (other questions) showing a high percentage of high hopes for their children. I am a good example, for years I wanted my kids to be this and be that and I tried to instill into them the importance of knowing what you want to be when you grow up. In the last 10 years I have changed, I still want them to have goals and a plan but I now say “Be Happy in your work, have a passion for what you want to do and do it the best you can. Money is important, but being happy and diverse in skills is more important.” I believe this change is the result of people losing loyalty in their place of employment and the exuberance and arrogant behavior of many leaders in all areas of the workplace. People are miserable, trapped and stressed beyond belief, they do not want that for their children. So "Be Happy, Don't Worry."

3. The next segment was with Lt. Governor John Cherry and State Senator Wayne Kuipers from the 30th District (West Side of State around Ottawa County). Questions ranged from why is college important and what are some of the recommendations from the Cherry Commission (Senator Kuipers was a non-voting member)?

Lt. Governor Cherry:
· It’s all about jobs
· Employers look for skilled work force
· Stats – Michigan ranks 31st with workers who have a degree along with high unemployment, The top five states (Mass # 1) have high % of workers with degrees and low unemployment
· Mr. Poolman – then why are we cutting higher education funding? LTG Cherry – When the Governor was elected we went around the state doing “Town Hall” meetings, when asked about what to cut from the budget the people stated “cut higher education.”
· Dual Enrollment (HS and College)
· Pass Bond Proposal for more research, use research results to stimulate revenue & job growth
· State climate changing, medium skills no longer guarantees a job, need at least 2 yr degree.

Senator Kuipers:
· We need to get kids prepared for school
· Need strong commitment from K-12
· Shift focus to Higher Ed
· Budget Priorities
· Partnership between student, parent and state
· Change MEAP to Michigan Merit Award
· Dual Enrollment is a good idea to pursue

qualityg says…
· Where can public see all the recommendations (state site)?
· Very good discussion, I personally liked many of the ideas (by what method will they be achieved, and how $).
· Disturbed by the budget being cut because of “Town Hall Meetings.” If this is truly why the state cut funding we are in big trouble. Shouldn't this be a ballot decision?
· When I hear “shift focus,” it reminds me of a system/process being tampered with, by that I mean one part gets all the attention while the other levels chug along (not good my friends).

4. Juan Mestas Chancellor of the University of Michigan – Flint and President Richard Shaink of Mott CC joined the group to discuss higher education:

Chancellor Mestas:
· Resources are required to match requirements (recommendations)
· Can your school handle the amount of students if college recruits double according to Governor’s Plan – not in short term but in 10 years

President Shaink:
· Mott CC encourages students to go on and get 4 year degrees
· Mott CC could handle more students
· Encouraged by Cherry Commission Report if “all” recommendations are implemented

General Comments:
· Transfer Wizard – CCs work with Colleges to determine up front what classes will transfer so the student don’t take unnecessary classes and get done sooner
· College is not for everyone but Post Secondary Education is need in order to compete (vocational, skilled trades, etc) for jobs
· Merit Award – How much does $2500 or $4000 go in your school? Mott CC – 1 Year, Flint U of M – ½ year
· LTG Cherry would prefer Merit Award be given after “completing” secondary education. Senator Kuipers would prefer leaving award for high school and have a separate one for post secondary completion
· Free Education must go beyond K-12, times have changed

qualityg says…
· Very good discussion took place
· Free Education should go before and after K-12 (should be Pre – 14/16). If Friedrich Froebel were alive (founder of Kindergarten in 1837 in Germany) he would be pushing for federal/state funding for P-14/16.
· Politicians need to agree on what is the “end” when it comes to merit awards, both ideas have value, I sense partisan politics determine many of the outcomes of the recommendations.

5. Last segment was about improving skills and how do we keep college grads in Michigan. Pamela Loving President & CEO of Career Alliance and Superintendent Thomas Svitkovich joined Poolman, Cherry and Kuipers.

President Loving:
· Michigan economy is not dead, we are in a transitional culture change
· People need to change careers, need life long learning & it should be fun
· Michigan still a good place to work, there are jobs here, just not people who qualify

Superintendent Svitkovich:
· Education from Birth to College and Beyond
· Already working with colleagues from higher education
· HS students need Technology, Higher levels of math and higher levels of science in order to go to college and be prepared for the future
· Put old beliefs behind and educate communities about future needs and requirements
· Set a goal with parents and students to reach a pact about reaching HS and College at a much earlier age (elementary)

LTG Cherry & Senator Kuipers:
· Highly skilled employees attract employers to come to Michigan
· Employers say this is what they need before locating here: Regulation, Taxes and Education level of employees

Last question from Bill Poolman to LTG Cherry and Senator Kuipers:
What would be the “one” policy you think needs to be passed?

LTG Cherry – Bond Proposal, invest in jobs and create synergies
Senator Kuipers – Dual Enrollment – get high school kids ready for college

qualityg says…
· Life long learning and education should be fun – AMEN, - Pres
· Education from B – Beyond – Alright, - Super- understands “systems thinking” and must have had Quality Training
· Pres and Super are two people that need to be involved going forward in state education decisions


Rather than summarize the program comments I have chosen to include comments on an Editorial Opinion by Mr. Karl Ziomek – Managing Editor of the News Herald. The Title is “Talking about education can be tiresome”

Mr. Ziomek comments on the survey results as well as the validity of the comment about parent apathy toward college; qg agrees based on my immediate family, 11 children are eligible (age) for college, 9 out 10 attend(ed) MSU, 1 at U of M – Flint, 1 went into military. All of my close friends also have more than 90% of their children going to or have finished college.

Also Mr. Ziomek questions Lotto money going in one state government program and then transferred to another.

Proposal A? As the economy lags, revenue for education (and everything else) fall

The state’s largest district has been so poorly administered that it may have to close more than 50 buildings next year in one fell swoop.

Why can’t our kids go to University of Michigan?

And more…

I have requested Mr. Ziomek to send me a link to his editorial (no longer on paper web site).

Thanks for reading, I’m not going to give up asking questions and seeking answers, all of my posts are sent to the people who either wrote the articles, talk on TV or post info on state web sites.



Anonymous said...


Thank You for providing a "detailed" overview of the broadcast. There is so much confusion around education that I don't know who to trust or what issue to vote for at election time.

A working Mom

qualityg says said...

Trust in the Children.