GREENVILLE — What’s your agenda for Michigan? That was the question posed by The Center for Michigan to more than two dozen Greenville residents Thursday evening in a town hall session seeking input on the direction the state is headed.
“Tonight, you are joining thousands of other citizens who are taking part in conversations just like this one between now and early April to essentially talk about what your agenda is for the state of Michigan for 2014 and beyond,” said Amber DeLind, outreach director for The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization. “Our goal is essentially to help bring public issues with diverse public input forth, so that state leaders know what you have to say and what you think.”
First and foremost on the minds of those present, mostly school officials, was intensifying education and training in the state. More than 70 percent of those in attendance felt intensifying education and job training should be the state legislature’s top priority.
“It all starts with education,” said Mike Huckleberry, former state representative from Greenville. “We need an educated workforce.”
The problem, according to a majority of those present, however, is Lansing continues to “micromanage” the education system by implementing a “one-size-fits-all” system.
“They treat education as if there are no professionals and as if it can be better run by a panel of consumers and that they in Lansing know better. We lost local control,” Greenville High School Counselor Cherie Stafford said. “We already hearing from the community that we are not churning out graduates with what they need, but we lost our choice. We no longer cater our programs to our local priorities.
“We have spent a lot of time helping kids survive a curriculum that doesn’t serve them.”
Although it was the bulk of Thursday’s conversation, education wasn’t the only topic discussed. Those in attendance also expressed opinions on budget decisions, taxes, roads and revenues.
The Center for Michigan puts together a presentation for legislators based on the dozens of similar discussions around the state.
DeLind said legislators do in fact consider the findings and The Center for Michigan’s community discussions have led directly to legislation at the state level.
Anyone wishing to continue to add input for The Center for Michigan’s research can use the hashtag “mivoice” on Twitter or post on the group’s Facebook page.