Gov. Bob Wise Testifies Before Michigan Senate Education Committee on Importance of Digital Learning to Preparing All Students for College and Career
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2012
Gov. Wise Recognizes Michigan’s “Significant Progress” in Education Reform, Urges State to Consider How Digital Learning Fits into Broader Education Reform Landscape
Washington, DC – This morning, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, testified before the Michigan Senate Education Committee on how digital learning and the effective use of technology can help drive better learning for all students in Michigan—regardless of their geography or socioeconomic status.
“We are at a crossroads and the next twenty-four months is a critical time to not only keep the wheels of progress turning, but to accelerate the rate of improvement through the effective use of technology,” Wise testified. “This is the time for those of us who are experiencing firsthand an emerging and ever-changing world of technology to ensure the nation’s education system is agile and flexible enough to offer its youth the high-quality education they deserve. By doing so, this challenging moment can be turned around by embracing common-sense progress in teaching and learning.”
During his testimony, Wise recognized Michigan’s “significant progress” in improving the educational opportunities for its students. Specifically, he cited Michigan’s move to promote online opportunities and offer professional development and data analysis tools for teachers. He praised Gov. Rich Snyder for his leadership in working with the legislature to pass the cyber charter bill that expands opportunities for online learning and pointed out that Michigan is one of forty-six states to adopt college- and career-ready standards known as the common core state standards.
Wise applauded the Michigan Department of Education and State Superintendent Mike Flanagan for their leadership in implementing the nation’s first-ever high school graduation requirement that every student have an online experience. He expressed support for Flanagan’s efforts to move toward competency-based advancement through pilots and seat-time waivers and encouraged the Senate Education Committee to support Flanagan’s efforts in these areas.
At the same time, Wise said Michigan—like most states—still has a long ways to go, but stressed that the reward for meeting the college- and career-ready challenge is tremendous. “It is a well-documented fact that educational attainment has a direct impact on future earnings,” Wise stated. “But educational attainment also has a direct benefit to the nation and the state of Michigan.”
Wise said Michigan would reap huge economic benefits, including as much as $255 million in increased annual earnings, by ensuring that 90 percent of students earn a high school diploma. Meeting that goal—for just one high school class—would also bring as much as $543 million in increased home sales, $23 million in car sales, and 1,000 new jobs. All told, there would likely be as much as a $226 million increase in Michigan’s gross state product and $53 million more in federal, state, and local tax revenues.
“Imagine the profound impact that increasing the graduation rate every year would have on the people of Michigan and the entire nation,” Wise said. “The message is clear: the best economic stimulus is a high school diploma.”
While acknowledging the funding challenges that Michigan—like most states—is facing because of declining local, state, and federal revenues and tight budgets, Wise said that the state is being challenged to raise student performance for more and more children. “I had to balance budgets as a governor and it was never easy,” Wise stated. “It is going to require thinking outside the box to allocate resources in a way that makes state dollars more productive and effective.”
Wise urged the Senate Education Committee to consider how digital learning fits into the broader education reform landscape and the demand for higher student performance. “The nation must move school improvement planning processes from ‘technology optional’ to those that are ‘technology essential,’” Wise said. “The objective is not about having the latest technology, it’s about improving learning by implementing solutions that support teachers and empower students.”
Wise also discussed what he calls the “three Ts”—teachers, technology, and time—that are essential to developing a comprehensive digital learning strategy and rethinking education. “Teachers have a critical role to play as the nation continues to progress from yesterday’s learning environments to those that are more tailored, flexible, robust, and challenging,” Wise said. “Only when the three Ts are used together can schools be expected to accelerate improvement.”
Wise cited several examples of schools and districts from around the country that are already using technology to improve student outcomes. In North Carolina, for example, Mooresville Graded School District implemented a digital conversion initiative in 2007 that shifted from print to digital content material and made available an internet-accessible device for every student and teacher. In just five years, Mooresville’s graduation rate increased 25 percentage points and now ranks third in the state—even though Mooresville has one of the lowest per-pupil expenditures in the state, ranking ninety-ninth out of 115 districts.
Read Gov. Wise’s prepared testimony here.