Frequently Asked Questions

What is Launch Michigan about?

The organizations involved in Launch Michigan care deeply about education and our state’s collective future. That’s why we want a student-centered system—one that helps every child succeed in school, in their career, and in life. We understand implicitly that a strong, thriving public education system is the cornerstone of successful kids, prosperous communities, and a strong economy.

How is it different from other efforts or groups trying to improve education?

This is historic! Launch Michigan is a never-before-assembled partnership of business, education, labor, philanthropy, and civic leaders, as well as parents—all the players necessary to get things done. These groups haven’t come together in quite this way before, so we’re very optimistic about the potential of our diverse and growing collection of unlikely allies.

We have seen other places with similar challenges figure out how to make education better, in large part, by bringing together unique partners who are committed to working long-term on a common agenda grounded in best-practice research. We believe Michigan can do this too. In fact, our goal is to make Michigan a top 10 education state.

What does the partnership intend to do?

Launch Michigan is in the early stages of collaboration and will be working to flesh out a shared agenda in the months ahead. At this point, we’ve identified the following priorities:

  • Leveraging existing research and conducting a statewide educator survey, among other activities, as a way of listening to and supporting our educators.
  • Supporting shared, statewide, research-driven strategies for delivering effective education to all students and sticking to those strategies regardless of politics and election cycles, so we can see what really works.
  • Supporting a fair and comprehensive accountability system that includes everyone who influences education—not just teachers.
  • Elevating public awareness about the current state of education in Michigan.
  • Working together to ensure that the resources are available to provide for an equitable student-centered system and funding model.

Do you plan to seek additional resources for K-12 education?

We know that every public policy issue has a financing component that must be considered. Right now, we just don’t have answers to all the funding questions. What we do have, unequivocally, is a deep commitment and willingness to come to the table with open minds and cooperative spirits to seek innovative, shared solutions.

How is Launch Michigan talking about the education problem facing our state?

Countless reports and research are clear: Michigan is facing an education crisis. None of us are strangers to that or to education data. In fact, many of us have participated in past research and other efforts that we believed would lead to improvement. But, so far, we haven’t been able to move the needle enough. We want—and must—do significantly better for every student, every school, and our state.

What we don’t want to do this time around, though, is to get stuck defining and re-defining the problem. Instead, we want to move forward together to seek viable solutions grounded in research.

What’s the partnership’s timeline?

We all agree that the issues we’re facing require a sense of urgency and we’re committed to taking immediate action. First and foremost, we want to flesh out a shared agenda and get it in front of elected officials in the fall.

On a parallel track, we will continue to work together to craft solutions to the tough issues we’re facing—issues that will take time to implement and even longer to see the concrete results of. For that reason, we’re committed to this effort for the long-haul.

Why is Michigan struggling so much to improve education? Who’s to blame?

Let’s be perfectly clear—no single group or entity is to blame for the education crisis in Michigan. We all created our system together, and now we have to improve it together. Everyone has a role to play. If we work together, we can get this done. This unprecedented partnership is the key.

There have been numerous legislative and other efforts made by well-intentioned lawmakers and groups in the past. Why do you believe this one will succeed?

“Numerous” is right! One of the biggest challenges we have in Michigan is that we keep asking educators to hit a moving target. With each election cycle, the goals shift. We must be willing to stick with our shared strategies long enough to see what really works, regardless of politics. If we don’t do that, we can’t—and won’t—succeed in the long-run. That’s simply not acceptable for our students or the future of our state.

The devil is in the details. All the things Launch Michigan is talking about are very high-level. Do you believe you will be able to set aside individual agendas when you start getting down to specifics?

That’s why we are at the table—to build a shared agenda. We all know this won’t be easy, otherwise it would’ve been done before. But, the time is now. We believe that with this group it is possible to make meaningful and lasting change. We’re willing to roll up our sleeves and do what’s necessary to build a strong, thriving public education system for Michigan students—together.

It’s a big election year. How can you stop partisan politics from derailing this effort?

While the Launch Michigan partners may disagree on who the best candidate for a particular position is, this effort is about working with whomever gets elected. That’s one of the fundamental points of our momentous collaboration—education can no longer be a partisan issue in Michigan. Our kids and our state need and deserve better. Our group wants to be a collective resource with a shared agenda and research-driven path forward, regardless of who our next state lawmakers or governors are.

Will the partnership endorse a candidate for governor?

No. The whole purpose is to work cooperatively—regardless of political affiliations—to support a sound improvement strategy that transcends politics and election cycles. What we expect of our students and educators should not change depending on who is in office.

What about charters? Where do they fit into the equation?

Charter public schools and traditional public schools are both parts of a cohesive education system that serves all students and prepares them to succeed.

What about early learning and institutions of higher education. How do they fit in?

While this effort is focused on the needs of the pre-K–12 system, we understand that what happens from birth until kindergarten and after high school graduation is integral to high quality, lifelong learning. For that reason, our partnership will look for opportunities to improve bridges into and out of the system.

The Launch Michigan steering committee has put in thousands of hours over the past 18 months. Shouldn’t these recommendations go further to advance the cause of education reform in Michigan?

Launch Michigan’s leaders recognize the many challenges that exist in public education today. In fact, the problems can seem overwhelming, which is why the steering committee has decided to use a multi-phased, tiered approach that seeks to tackle the most acute challenges first, then moves on to tackle deeper, more fundamental opportunities for change.

One of our core beliefs is that change takes time—for too long, Michigan educators have been buffeted by policies that shift too much, too quickly. We seek to build a solid, reliable foundation that transcends legislatures and allows for steady growth that gets the job done right.

Launch has talked with an unprecedented number of educators throughout Michigan. One of the things they said consistently is that there is no silver bullet to improving education. Phase One echoes that sentiment; utilizing a district planning process, it puts local educators in the driver seat to tell the state where they most need to put resources.

Why was literacy chosen as a first area of focus?

Literacy is a fundamental building block for much of the other learning that takes place in a person’s lifetime. That is why Michigan’s third-grade reading law was initially adopted, and it’s also an area of continued critical importance for children across the state.

It makes sense, therefore, to select this initial area of academic focus as a proving ground for the strategies Launch Michigan plans to pilot and incubate.

How is the Equity Fund different?

Once literacy was selected as the initial area of focus, the Launch Michigan steering committee overlaid its other strategic priorities onto the first phase of implementation.

Chief among them is the idea of equitable funding for all Michigan schools. By piloting equitable funding approaches with our urgent need to boost literacy, we can maximize—and prove—the effectiveness of our strategies before we begin building on them.

Literacy is a fundamental building block for much of the other learning that takes place in a person’s lifetime. That is why Michigan’s third-grade reading law was initially adopted, and it’s also an area of continued critical importance for children across the state.

It makes sense, therefore, to select this initial area of academic focus as a proving ground for the strategies Launch Michigan plans to pilot and incubate.

What does Launch Michigan mean by “equity”?

Once literacy was selected as the initial area of focus, the Launch Michigan steering committee overlaid its other strategic priorities onto the first phase of implementation.

Chief among them is the idea of equitable funding for all Michigan schools. By piloting equitable funding approaches with our urgent need to boost literacy, we can maximize—and prove—the effectiveness of our strategies before we begin building on them.

Reaching for equity is different than reaching for equality, which is the strategy Michigan more or less uses to fund its schools today. Equality means funding every child the same, no matter where s/he lives or what his/her needs are.

An approach that is based on equity, however, offers extra financial support to students whose needs are greater. These dollars are used to pay for extra remediation, help, and interventions for children who start behind their peers for any reason. It’s a way of giving them a hand up, so they can more quickly develop the skills and assets they need to be successful in school and in life.

Establishing equitable funding for all students is something that has been validated in research across many states to help improve outcomes for all children, and it was cited by educators in Launch’s 17,000-person educator survey as an important step to improve opportunity for Michigan’s kids.

What about accountability?

Launch Michigan believes funding and accountability are inextricably linked. Accountability will be infused into all funding recommendations by having districts define their needs, describe research-based strategic approaches they will use, and the goals and outcomes they are working towards in the local accountability/ district plan.

Reaching for equity is different than reaching for equality, which is the strategy Michigan more or less uses to fund its schools today. Equality means funding every child the same, no matter where s/he lives or what his/her needs are.

An approach that is based on equity, however, offers extra financial support to students whose needs are greater. These dollars are used to pay for extra remediation, help, and interventions for children who start behind their peers for any reason. It’s a way of giving them a hand up, so they can more quickly develop the skills and assets they need to be successful in school and in life.

Establishing equitable funding for all students is something that has been validated in research across many states to help improve outcomes for all children, and it was cited by educators in Launch’s 17,000-person educator survey as an important step to improve opportunity for Michigan’s kids.

What happens next?

Launch Michigan believes funding and accountability are inextricably linked. Accountability will be infused into all funding recommendations by having districts define their needs, describe research-based strategic approaches they will use, and the goals and outcomes they are working towards in the local accountability/ district plan.

Launch Michigan is working to develop specific statutory language to implement the Equity Fund during the 2020 legislative cycle. We intend to get underway with our recommendations as soon as possible, putting the full support of our entire steering committee behind our suggested policies.

Moreover, we will continue to devise specific strategies for building on our successes and supporting children over the long term. Our energies are unflagging and our coalition is solid. We will continue to meet to build on our successes and address our challenges for years—even decades—to come.