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Michigan Education Landscape: A Fact Base for the DeVos Debate

Bonnie O'Keefe
Kaitlin Pennington
Sara Mead
Publication

President Donald Trump’s nomination of philanthropist and education advocate Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education thrust Michigan education into the national spotlight. Because DeVos doesn’t have a track record as a government official or school system leader, her work in Michigan on education issues provides some of the only information about her track record and what she might do as Secretary. Yet, DeVos’ critics and her boosters alike are making a variety of claims about Michigan that are confusing and contradictory. 

To help clarify some of these questions, a new analysis from Bellwether Education Partners provides a comprehensive look at the education policy landscape in Michigan. This fact base will help inform the ongoing conversation between analysts, journalists, policymakers, and practitioners about the perspectives DeVos might bring to the U.S. Department of Education. Beyond DeVos, this analysis gives insight into the state of education in Michigan, which has been a laboratory of school choice and education reform approaches, and subject to major demographic and economic shifts in the past 20 years. 

This slide deck report includes the following information about the education landscape in Michigan: 

  • Student demographic data across sectors
  • Student achievement data and context 
  • Overview of school reform efforts 
  • Explanation of state education governance structures 
  • Accountability system information
  • Finance system explanation 
  • History of school choice efforts
  • Review of charter school and school choice policies 
  • Information on growth of charter schools and charter school enrollment
  • Data on student performance in charter schools and traditional public schools
  • Information about for-profit charter schools
  • Information about charter authorizers
  • Data on the impact of inter-district choice
  • Student demographic and achievement data in Detroit
  • Information about the presence and performance of charter schools in Detroit 
  • History of reform in Detroit Public Schools and where the district stands today  

The fraught political and policy atmosphere surrounding the Trump Administration as it takes office has contributed to the spread of misinformation from across the political spectrum. Bellwether’s analysis provides accurate, up-to-date, and unbiased information. Readers will gain a deeper understanding of the contextual issues surrounding the education landscape in Michigan and a better sense of various claims being made in the debate around DeVos’ confirmation. 

Read the full report here, or in the viewer below.