Michigan is turning to the people to get a better idea of how to improve public education. A new, year-long, survey from the Center for Michigan shows most in the state believe there's a lot of work to do.
The non-profit think tank says Michiganders barely gave the state a "C" rating. It also reports that the public's priorities not necessarily the ones getting the most attention at the Capitol.
"Michigan residents aren't satisfied with Michigan schools," Amber Toth, with Center for Michigan said.
The center presented its findings to parents, teachers and business leaders Tuesday at the Lansing Center. Researchers talked to thousands of Michiganders all over the state to hear their education needs and wants.
Number one on the list? More support for teachers.
"Through mentoring, through coaching, through evaluation systems," Toth explained.
The study also found public demand for better prepared teachers. Michiganders want tougher certification standards and more rigorous college programs that will give teachers a deep mastery of the subjects they'll be covering.
"The Michigan population is interested in education and is interested in figuring out how to improve our public education, that to me is the takeaway," Susan Broman, Director of Michigan's Office of Great Start said.
The survey also found a desire for increased access to early education programs.
"People are starting to understand that learning doesn't just begin at kindergarten, learning begins at birth and we need to invest earlier," Broman said.
By a 70-30 margin, surveyed Michiganders said the state needs to invest more money in student learning, but they want those dollars in specific areas. They're calling for higher pay to entice higher quality teachers, more use of technology, expanded preschool and vocational programs, richer elective course choices and added funds for basic classroom supplies.
While school choice, charter schools and online learning get a lot of buzz at the Capitol, the Center for Michigan says they weren't the focus here.
"Many people said those things are important, but they didn't rise to the top the way these other issues did," Toth said.
The center now plans to pass it's findings on to state leaders, hoping the public's agenda will be come the legislative agenda.