Retired CEO claims nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan, calls for ‘business’ to step up to the challenge


State School Superintendent Brian Whiston (shown here) has fine objectives but can’t succeed under the current process, writes Ken Whipple retired chairman and CEO of Consumers Energy.(Photo: David Coates / The Detroit News)

Whipple: Nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan

Ken Whipple is the retired chairman and CEO of Consumers Energy.

He opens his guest op-ed in today’s (28 Jan 2016) Detroit News with this:

“Here’s a really tough question, though: Who’s in charge of delivering this good education for all our kids. Remember, all means all. Who is accountable for progress and results? The blunt answer in our state is nobody. No one. And that’s the whole problem with our lack of progress and results.

The governor is not in charge, the State Board of Education is not in charge, the state superintendent of education is not in charge, the emergency managers are not in charge, the plethora of weak-sister charter authorizers aren’t in charge, and the Legislature has been hopeless in this.”

He then goes on to compare efforts in Massachusetts over the last 20 years, led by business groups, with Michigan’s failed reforms. For him, Massachusetts is the bar-setting state when it comes to striving for K-12 education excellence. And he repeatedly notes that “business” interests led the way to Massachusetts success.

Oh for heaven’s sake Mr. Whipple.

Do some research.
Mass. students average abt 23-24 on the ACT
Mich. students average abt 20-21 on the ACT
Mass. tests only less than 25 percent of its HS graduates – all presumably college bound.
Mich. tests 100 percent of its high school gradutes – whether they are college bound or not.
Mass. ranks in the top 10 in terms of lowest percent of its citizens living in poverty – about 10 percent.
Mich. recently ranked 33rd – with almost 17 percent of our citizens living in poverty.
Boston has roughly 20 percent of its residents living below the poverty line.
Detroit has almost 40 percent.
Mass. never approached Mich.’s numbers when it began what you say was a 20+ year journey to educational excellence. It has always had a leg up on Mich. in that regard.
Of the 100 largest school systems by enrollment, Maryland had four of the top 10 public school districts with the highest current spending per pupil. The top-five school districts (as of 2013) for per pupil spending were Boston City Schools ($20,502), New York City School District ($20,331), Anchorage School District in Alaska ($15,419), Montgomery County Schools in Maryland ($15,080) and Baltimore City Schools ($15,050).
Detroit come in at just under $14,000 from all sources including all categorical aid.
Next time you want to write an op-ed and run comparisons be sure to let readers know you are comparing apples to oranges right up front.  – JLS



Massachusetts boosted the quality of education with clear responsibility, having business help keep results on track writes Whipple. To read the entire op-ed, follow the link below.

Source: Whipple: Nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan

2 thoughts on “Retired CEO claims nobody’s in charge of education in Michigan, calls for ‘business’ to step up to the challenge

  1. You are not going to recreate Massachusetts in Michigan until we get rid of the nearsighted term limits. Every new batch of freshmen legislators have an agenda or ax to grind and they achieve the power to do it in 1 or 2 terms. Someone hiccups in the House or Senate chamber and they all go running to see! All of our political efforts should be thrown into eliminating term limits. Let the voters decide on the limits each election.


  2. I knew the Nerd was disingenuous when he first ran. I was curious. He sounded intriguing, so as an educator I went to see how this supposedly nerdy accountant explained his position. He too spoke of the woeful education in Michigan. He too compared Michigan scores to Minnesota where 25% took the ACT to Michigan’s 100%. A supposedly smart Nerd making a massive error in thinking that my 11th grade IB students would discover in about 4 minutes revealed that he was just another politician distorting the facts to fool the public. Now the true consequences of years of this kind of thinking are revealed in Flint, in collapsing schools in Detroit, gag orders signed to silence free speech etc…


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