By Kelly Reeves
Meridian Times staff writer
Reforming Michigan’s educational system is one of the 10 principles Gov. Rick Snyder addressed during his State of the State Address on Jan. 19, 2011. Snyder believes that not just K-12 should be a primary concern for education, but also pre-school and college education because future generations need to be prepared as well as possible.
Some students that were educated through Meridian Township schools agree that it is important for students to be prepared early to have a strong foundation, and to be prepared when taking the next step in education after high school graduation.
Nicole Hurst, who attended Cornell Elementary School in Okemos, says it is imperative for children to receive a good education early in their lives. “I believe that children need a strong base to build their education upon and it should start with pre-school,” said Hurst.
Snyder said in the address that the new education system must provide transitions that will prepare students for their careers, starting from early education, then into grade school and on to one of Michigan’s higher education institutions.
The Harris Nature Center in Okemos holds programs for children because it is important for children to have an education they can bring into elementary school. “The kids start by being taught simple introductions, then once they get into elementary school they already have an education to build off” said Kit Rich, coordinator at the nature center.
Although the Harris Nature Center children’s program is focused on the environment and nature, Rich insisted it can help children make connections in science they will learn in elementary school and beyond.
The long-term success of Michigan’s economy depends on the ability to educate, prepare and train the next generation of workers, and although it is undeniable that transforming our education system will take a significant amount of time, it is something that can no longer be put off, said Snyder.
Hurst, now a Michigan State student, said she felt prepared for education beyond pre-school, but thinks it should still remain an important issue for all education institutions across Michigan.
“I was actually considered behind academically when I attended Okemos Schools, but after I moved to Utica I was considered advanced. If all academic institutions prepared their students similar to my experience, students in Michigan would not have to worry about being ready to move up in their education,” said Hurst.
Michigan’s students should be delivered the best possible education the state can afford, and one of the main concerns is that the state’s high school students are being inadequately prepared for their education following graduation.
Michigan State University sophomore Angela Kain said, “I felt like I was prepared before I came to college, but once I got here, I realized I wasn’t,” said Kain. “I think it’s necessary for high school seniors to be completely prepared before they head off to college so they don’t fall behind” said Kain.
Similarly, Nicole McKenna who went to Okemos High School, and now attends Western Michigan University also said she did not think she was completely prepared for the next step in her education. “I never really felt challenged and when I got to college, it was a whole new world and I felt so lost,” said McKenna.
Snyder said in his address that reports have verified that a large number of graduates need additional coursework, and are enrolling in remedial classes to better prepare themselves for college because they did not feel ready for college after high school. A change in Michigan’s education needs to happen, and that change needs to start now.