I like to stay generally positive about things here, but sometimes a news item or discussion just gets the better of me.

<rant on>

From today’s Grand Rapids Press: Survey: Few believe a good education is necessary

GRAND RAPIDS — Michigan’s struggling economy has people thinking that schools should be emphasizing job skills instead of college preparation — a perception educators say they need to change.

Less than a third of the people responding to a recent survey believe a good education is essential for success, pollster Ed Sarpolus of the Lansing-based EPIC/MRA told county school board members and business leaders at forums today.

Sarpolus said Michigan needs to change its culture regarding the importance of education, and that results in West Michigan are no different than on the east side of the state.

The poll was commissioned by the Kent Intermediate School District. Superintendent Kevin Konarska said the results show that businesses and schools need to send a common message — that the economy will improve if people continue their schooling and provide a workforce with in-demand skills.

Interesting if you read it critically. Before the poll or the results are even given the writer (unnamed) frames the outcomes to be caused by the struggling economy – implying the results would be different if the economy was doing better. 

Next, Ed Sarpolus is the pollster who is responsible for conducting the poll for EPIC/MRA.  But he not only conducts the survey and compiles the data, but he also presents his opinions on what needs to happen as a result.  It is interesting that he does not recommend that the educational system (that 66%+ of people felt was failing) needs to change, but instead suggests we need to work on changing the “culture” to accept the “importance” of the failing educational system in the state.

Then notice why he probably can’t recommend changes and improvements in the educational system, the Kent Intermediate School District sponsored the study.  They also don’t recommend to improve the system to meet the needs of those polled.  But rather to “send a common message — that the economy will improve if people continue their schooling…” in a system that 66%+ of the people see as failing them right now.

More poll results

  • Only one in four Michigan parents believe that getting a good education is essential to getting ahead in life.
  • Nearly half of parents don’t think everyone should have a college education nor do they trust the judgment of teachers and professors.
  • Three out of five define the success of their children without reference to education or the ability to support themselves.

Different Poll – same group (EMR/MRA)

  • EPIC-MRA poll shows only 34 percent of state residents believe she’s [Governor Granholm] doing a good job as governor.

If I were reading these polls and data, I would say that the Governor should head up an effort to improve/redesign the school system to provide the skills and learning necessary for Michigan’s children to succeed in today’s (and tomorrow’s) job market.  Then we will have a workforce ready for the jobs that are desired, companies will want to come to Michigan, and the economy will improve.  Then we’ll have an improved school system and economy, and she could get 66%+ of the vote.

We don’t just need to get a public relations campaign together to convince the vast majority of Michigan citizens that they just need to “believe” in the current system (which they don’t “trust the judgement” of and don’t see as being “essential” or effective currently).  This “common message”, to stay the course and things will somehow get better on their own, is not a solution.

</rant off>