Michigan Schools Taking Direction from Governor Granholm

Written by Patricia Hawke for Schools K-12

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has a vision for the state of Michigan and the Michigan schools.  In 2005, the Cherry Commission on Higher Education recommended that the state must double its number of college graduates in order to compete economically. Granholm took this recommendation and developed her small high school initiative for the Michigan schools.

She believes that smaller high schools allow students to develop relationships and interact more with their teachers, subsequently creating an atmosphere for more rigorous coursework and graduating students who are bound for college.

It has been proven across the nation that smaller high schools with smaller classes make a big difference in the lives of students. The Governor, along with the Skillman Foundation, are encouraging the Michigan schools to create, expand and develop smaller high schools. The Foundation is encouraging and organizing foundation support for the initiative.

Specific Michigan schools are being targeted first for smaller school and classroom development. Any high school that has fallen short of the federal student achievement goals under the No Child Left Behind Act and/or are located in districts with high dropout rates are first on the Governor’s list for redevelopment.

After the Cherry Commission’s recommendations, the Governor called on state lawmakers to pass legislation to make it easier for Michigan schools to renovate and build new schools. Under the Governor’s Jobs Today program, which funds needed public improvement projects, Michigan schools districts may borrow up to $180 million over a three-year period to renovate or construct new buildings, as long as the finished schools house no more than 400-500 students each.

Other incentives under the Governor’s program include:

  • A proposed New Merit Scholarship for Michigan schools students, who go to college and successfully complete at least two years — these Michigan schools students will receive a minimum of $4,000 in scholarship support from state and federal sources.
  • The Governor has called for a statewide mandatory curriculum for the Michigan schools — rigorous and relevant coursework will be included to ensure students are prepared to continue their education after high school.
  • Beginning with the class of 2008, Michigan schools students will be required to take the nationally recognized ACT (American College Test) college entrance exam — another recommendation of the Cherry Commission to pave the way for students to attend college.

The Michigan schools want to prepare every student for success in college, in the workplace, and in life.  The Governor is helping the Michigan schools reach higher standards with her initiative. Both the Governor and the Michigan schools believe that helping all students attain and remain on a successful path that leads to a college degree is the most important goal. They wish to help students view a college degree as an attainable goal and be motivated to go after it.