Parents and community members now have a new website they can visit to learn about positive initiatives occurring in public schools across Michigan, a new education group announced Monday, Nov. 18.
The Michigan Public Schools Partnership (MPSP) unveiled the Standing Strong for Public Schools websiteduring a press conference at Rockford Public Schools’ administration office.
School district stories, by region, are online. Kent and Ottawa counties are in Region 3 of 10. People are welcome to submit stories and join the group online dedicated to promoting the value of schools.
“We want to highlight the remarkable things going on every day in Michigan public schools,” said Christine Beardsley, co-founder of MPSP and superintendent of Eaton Regional Education Service Agency, during the press conference.
“Despite all of the challenges – legislative action, reduced funding, lots of challenges economically in our state – we continue to accomplish the goal of quality education for public school students.”
She said a lot of great things happening in public schools often get lost in the mainstream media or are overshadowed by negative news.
The group is made up of 21 members – 14 school districts, including Rockford schools and seven education organizations, including the Michigan Association of School Boards and Michigan Education Association.
Rockford is the only district in Kent and Ottawa counties participating. However, the website will link to the Kent Intermediate School District’s School News Network and Ottawa Areas Intermediate School District’s Doing More Together site for school news.
Rockford Superintendent Mike Shibler said school districts need to get more of their stories out to counteract misleading information.
“Our state lawmakers have inadvertently painted a broad picture of public schools and sometimes that picture isn’t very positive, and it really disrupts what really is the truth about what’s happening in public education,” he said.
“Many times our critics also paint us with a broad rush and speak in generalities rather than specifics. K-12 education is successful and has been for decades and we need to get our story out.”
Shibler said like other organizations, school systems have their challenges and are addressing them. He said the website won’t “sugarcoat” those realities as it promotes success stories.
June Pettyplace, co-founder of MPSP and Uniserv director for the Michigan Education Association, said the launch has been more than a year in the making. She said she has been involved in some aspect of education for more than 40 years and is aware of incredible people who are doing unbelievable things for students.
“With this website, the whole state will get to know it, too,” she said. “The Michigan Public Schools Partnership in itself is a newsmaker. It brought together a diverse group of individuals, organizations and school districts who have not always been on the same page politically.”
“But we have always been united behind making sure public schools are there for every student.”
Beardsley said MPSP is a nonprofit, not a political action group. She said it is focused on promoting positive stories such as that of Mitch Anderson-Terry, a graduate of Gobles High School and nursing student at Davenport University.
Anderson-Terry shared his K-12 struggles and how he couldn’t read in the third grade. He spoke about the support he received to make academic strides to be able to graduate and attend college.
Beardsley said they are hoping to fund the site through a grassroots efforts. She said they’ve received approximately $3,000 from a few of its educational organizations and readers can donate online.
Since 1983, Shibler said educators and education have been attacked unjustly.
“We are making the difference in the lives of thousands of students,” he said.
Courtesy of mLive