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    In 8 months, Michigan will choose a new governor in the midst of a struggling economy, failing schools, and a people in need of a leader capable of turning this state around. It may be only February, but 7 candidates (5 Republicans and 2 Democrats) are running for the governor's office and though the economy dominates their platforms, education is not far behind. All candidates feel that the only way to stop the flood of talent leaving the state from getting worse, robbing the state of a future is to create an education system supporting students from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate. Reform, innovation, and spending are also big issues that candidates feel must be addressed to fix Michigan. .

    Perhaps the most widely known candidate, Mike Cox has included education in his plan for revitalizing Michigan's economy. Included in his list of reforms needed in the education system are many of the provisions of the Race to the Top program. An increase in competition for public schools, most notably the allowance of more charter schools, is a central idea in Attorney General Cox's campaign for Governor. He also believes that merit pay, additional pay given to teachers with high performance, improvement, and in high demand subject, will not only help keep intelligent and competent teachers in the classroom, but will also help students get the best education available to them. Cox also asks for more transparency in the school budget so parents know where their dollars are going.

    Two other Republican candidates, Rick Snyder and Tom George have similar approaches to fixing the education system, mainly the reduction and redistribution of spending. Tom George believes that privatization of janitorial, transportaion, and food services will help save schools money and allow them to spend more on the students actual education; books, supplies, and programs. Snyder believes that the key is to match the amount of spending on education with the amount of achievement by students, something not currently taking place here in Michigan. He also cites the need for merit pay to help bolster education quality and retention of quality teachers.

    Alma Smith and Virg Bernero, the democratic candidates for governor spend little time on their websites addressing the problem of education. Smith mentions briefly the need to have all students achieving, not just the few good suburban districts. Lacking in this was any way to actually achieve this ideal, as it seems the democratic candidates are spending more time trying to distance themselves from the Granholm administration and less on laying out a plan or platform.

    A final note would be on the amount of time given to the reforms passed to qualify for the Race to the Top. Most candidates agree with the three major portions of the Race to the Top; Charter school expansion, merit pay, and budget management/transparency.

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    About Us

    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Andy Chou and Andrew Revard

    Andy Chou and Andrew Revard are Education Policy Correspondents for the Michigan Policy Network. Andy is a first-year student in Economics at Michigan State University. Andrew is a senior in Political Science at MSU.