John Engler & Daniel J. Hurley, John Engler

John Engler: President of the Business Roundtable and former Michigan Governor

Dan Hurley: CEO, Michigan Association of State Universities

We have a preparation gap in Michigan, and it’s threatening the future opportunities of thousands of young people graduating from our high schools. Each year, 35 percent of our high school students who go on to college are not prepared for freshman level courses and need to enroll in remedial courses in math and/or reading.

Those students have a steep hill to climb to stay in college and earn a meaningful degree or credential. Too many end up dropping out.

The good news is Michigan educators have been working to address this problem by introducing more challenging academic standards in elementary, middle and high school — standards that are aligned with the expectations students will face when they enter college and the job market. Michigan’s employers and its colleges and universities overwhelmingly support these efforts because we know first-hand the opportunities for students who graduate high school college- and career-ready. And we know that Michigan’s future economic prosperity depends on getting this right.


Concetta Lewis

Detroit teacher, America Achieves Teacher Fellow

“As a teacher, I believe in the power of education. I believe that when policymakers, parents and teachers understand the Common Core State Standards and how they will benefit Michigan students, they will embrace them.

Common Core State Standards, when appropriately implemented, exemplify great teaching. The standards provide a framework of what students need to learn – not how they learn it or what topics must be taught – allowing educators to design curriculum that best meets their students’ needs.

The sad truth is that most of our students are simply not ready for the rigors of college. We can and must do better for our students, not just in Michigan, but across the country. The Common Core will allow students increased access to high quality post-secondary educational experiences, increased access to college scholarships and better employment opportunities.

While politicians waver on how to implement the Common Core, our teachers and students are doing the hard work in our classrooms every day to help prepare Michigan’s students for a global world.”

Excerpted from June 11, 2013 column in The Detroit News

Troy VanderLaan

U.S. History teacher, East Kentwood

“I believe one of my main purposes as a public school teacher is to provide an education for my students that will prepare them to use relevant applications of the skills they will need to compete in a global marketplace. Whether my students decide to start a career in the trades and service sectors, or enroll in a university, they must have a firm foundation in a specific set of skills.

These skill sets include being able to think critically and use reason abstractly and quantitatively. They include the ability to communicate verbally and in written form, develop and apply new skills, and construct viable arguments to critique the reasoning of others. My students need to be able to incorporate the use of technology into completing an objective and construct models with mathematics. My students must also learn how to engage in discussions and be able to self-evaluate their performance throughout any task. All of the skills I listed above form the foundation of the Common Core State Standards.

Kentwood Public Schools proudly represents over 60 different nations with over 50 different spoken languages and dialects. Kentwood is an ethnically, religiously, and socio-economically diverse district with roughly 60% of our students eligible for the free-and-reduced lunch program. The district continually adapts to provide its students with the best possible education. Without appropriate support and funding to implement the Common Core, we are leaving our students without the necessary skills needed to maintain our great state and our great nation.”

Bobbi Jo Kenyon

2012-2013 Michigan Teacher of the Year

“As Michigan Teacher of the Year, I’ve talked to many educators throughout the state as well as the nation, and a common concern prevails: How can we better prepare our students for the future?  Unanimously, the conversation leads to a need for students to move from being passive learners taking in and spitting out information to self-directed critical thinkers that are college and career ready. The Common Core State Standards are a major step toward this educational goal.

In today’s age, with information being so readily accessible to students through technology, more technical and ever-changing job demands and increased global competition, the student’s role in the classroom needs to change.  Students need to move from memorizing facts to being problem-solvers who can take the knowledge they gain and apply it to real-life scenarios and complex problems.

As with most change, there comes controversy and concern.  Teachers will need to teach differently, schools will need new trainings, parents will need to be more involved, communities will need to extend support, and states will need to fund. But if our real goal is to prepare our children to be successful, which in turn creates a successful economy, then we must prepare them to do more than they have been presently doing.

Is Common Core the right thing to do for our kids? I undoubtedly say yes!”

Brian Cloyd

VP Global Corporate Community Relations, Steelcase

“I believe the most important issue facing our state is providing a quality education to our young people that will prepare them for their best futures.

At Steelcase, we employ 12,000 people worldwide, and 3,000 of them are located right here in the state of Michigan. Our company needs both skilled operations workers and high-skilled knowledge workers, and I would like you to understand how difficult it has been for us to fill jobs – at all skill levels – at our company in recent years.

That’s why continued implementation of the Common Core State Standards is so important to Steelcase, and to Michigan. The need for knowledge workers who possess strong skills in critical thinking, design thinking, math, science, and reading/writing comprehension is increasing at a faster rate even than the growth of technology.

Higher standards also require accountability. Michigan has a leadership role in the development and implementation of computer-adaptive testing that aligns to the Common Core. The right testing will not only provide real-time information that can inform classroom instruction, but will measure proficiency and individual student growth.

As a global organization, we see the world not only getting flatter but also see that education competitiveness is outpacing us. I urge the legislature to “stay the course” and continue implementing both the Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.”