Gov. Jennifer Granholm will deliver her State of the State address this evening, identifying issues that will be high on the governor’s agenda in the coming year. While there are many issues about which Granholm should be prepared to speak, she should devote a portion of her speech to education policy.

With the state’s troubled budgetary outlook, Granholm should be drafting plans to alleviate the inequities in public education. The future of the state lies in its ability to educate its citizens, and the least it can do is dedicate a significant portion of its assets to improving its educational facilities. Despite the economic crunch, it is imperative for the state to maintain, if not increase, the funding given K-12 and higher education last year.

State policy-makers should be aware that a large problem with education lies in the lack of equality across K-12 school districts. As state universities face the prospect of substantial budget cuts and tuition hikes, many primary and secondary schools struggle to adequately provide services to their students. The quality of education at public high schools throughout the state varies dramatically and it is of supreme importance to correct this disequilibrium. Troubled school districts face supply shortages and understaffing unheard of in communities just miles away. There is enough money to go around here; tonight Granholm should propose a more effective way to distribute funds.

One repercussion of this stratified school structure is that lower income families have no choice but to attend low income schools, while wealthier families prosper in their well-funded school districts. Aside from allocating funds to those who need them most, Granholm should advocate low-income housing in well-off areas. While suburban schools lead the state in many educational benchmarks, these neighborhoods consistently lack low-income housing. Rather than limit the ability of lower income families to have access to the successful educational institutions, the state should formulate measures to construct low income housing option in suburban cities.

The all-around welfare of the state’s education system should be the concern of every citizen. Whether concerned with funding, equality or better housing options, education should be an investment for every resident of the state. If all residents have a personal stake in the quality of education throughout the state, quality will improve across geographic regions.

During her campaign for the governorship last year, Granholm laid out a bold platform clearly intended to revitalize Michigan’s economy so that the state would be well-positioned to channel much-needed funding into public education. With tonight’s address, she should outline her plans to make this vision a reality.

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