Kentwood — Elementary STEM classes, robotics, video production and esports are just a few opportunities Kentwood Public Schools students have that are preparing them for future in-demand jobs, said Superintendent Kevin Polston.
It’s that kind of insight that Polston can share on the PreK-12 Education workgroup of the Growing Michigan Together Council, on which he was recently selected to serve. The council also includes workgroups focused on infrastructure; jobs, talent, and economy; and higher education.
The 64-member council will advise the governor on specific policies to grow Michigan’s Michigan’s stagnant population, including identifying a population goal for 2050. According to a press release from the executive office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the council will look at ways to successfully attract and retain talent; improve preK-12 educational outcomes and long-term funding solutions for higher education; and develop strategies for upgrading and modernizing transportation and water infrastructure, including developing long-term, sustainable funding solutions.
“Education is essential to the vitality of our state, economically and socially, for thriving communities. It makes sense to be part of any broader strategy,” Polston said. “How can our preK-12 education system in Michigan be the talent development engine for the state and work in concert with these other workgroups that can then work on retention?”
Members of the workgroups were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including past and present professional experiences, volunteerism, and philanthropic involvement, according to the release.
Polston previously served on the state’s Student Recovery Advisory Council, which guided work in helping the state’s education system recover from the traumatic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Polston said the new PreK-12 Education workgroup will focus on areas of needed growth and the obstacles or barriers people face in education.
“I think the time is right to really look differently at how we design our education to achieve the outcomes we intend,” he said. “I look forward to working with individuals across the state that represent a really diverse cross-sector approach to education.”The work aligns with Whitmer’s other education goals including Sixty by 30, which aims to increase the number of working-age adults who have a skill certificate or college degree from 50.5% today to 60% by 2030, and her goal to offer free pre-kindergarten for all by the end of her second term, Polston said.
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