Whether we like it or not, the face of education in Michigan is changing and we have Lansing to thank for that.
It seems that recent mandates from the state capitol are sending the message that, from now on, they'd like schools to be more involved in the lives of our very youngest residents and a little more virtual when it comes to teens.
This is being realized locally with the creation of an Early Learning Center at Weston Elementary in Imlay City, new all-day kindergarten programs in Almont and Dryden and the launch of the Capac Virtual Academy, among other developments. Currently, Imlay City High School offers online learning through the Michigan Virtual School.
All along, legislators have championed their actions as a means to give students and parents more choices, which isn't untrue. But school districts appeared to have few options when state officials declared that they wanted more all-day kindergarten programs. It was an ultimatum—make the switch or lose precious state funding. The new virtual learning legislation gives districts a pretty nice financial incentive that can't be ignored.
Now, there's no denying that these shifts in delivering education will almost certainly benefit kids. Research has shown that early childhood education initiatives are actually effective in preventing young adults from turning to crime. Allowing high schoolers to get a jump start on their careers, regardless of location or situation, should up the odds that they'll go on to become successful college graduates and/or entrepreneurs.
Is it okay to treat our education system more like an enterprise as long as our children can profit? Outcomes from such an arrangement will determine if Michigan citizens are okay with Lansing's influence in the classroom.