MACKINAC ISLAND (WWJ) – Michigan’s business and political elite have made their way up north by the hundreds for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference, running Wednesday through Friday on Mackinac Island.
Headlining this year’s agenda is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whose keynote speech is expected to focus on education, economic growth, and reinventing government.
Prior to Bush’s address, WWJ’s Charlie Langton got a chance to talk to him, asking if he thinks a system like Michigan’s new Education Achievement Authority (EAA) — a system in which the state puts the lowest-performing schools into one district — can actually help in Detroit.
Bush said state involvement in local districts is only a good idea when there’s a student-centered approach.
“Ultimately, schools needs to be driven by local governance over the long haul,” Bush said. “But, in the interim, with the kind of failure that exists in pockets of the state, there should be no tolerance for that. And, if this is the way to break through to another place, I think it’s worth trying.”
So, what is the problem with education in the city?
“The problem with Detroit schools is too many kids aren’t learning,” Bush said.
“Everything’s based on student performance. How many students are grade level readers by the end of third grade? How many kids truly graduate prepared to go to college and work in a job with purpose and meaning? That’s the measure,” he said. “And I’ll let you be the judge of whether Detroit schools are working.”
Along with education, major topics at this year’s conference include budgets, immigration reform, and upcoming state elections. The event officially kicks off Wednesday at 1 p.m., and Bush set to speak at 1:45 p.m.
WWJ Newsradio 950′s Roberta Jasina, Tom Jordan, Vickie Thomas and Charlie Langton are covering the conference. Stay tuned for live broadcasts from the island.