Recommendations of the Cherry Commission

Recommendations of the Cherry Commission
Monday, June 15, 2009
Recommendations of the Cherry Commission
 Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News
The Cherry Commission was formed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2004 to find ways to double the number of college graduates. Here are the commission's key recommendations:

 Make higher education the new expectation and remove financial barriers to college

Status: Enrollments have increased since 2004. Total head count went up 2,543 students in four years -- or less than 1 percent -- at Michigan's 15 public universities to 293,649 in 2008. Enrollment at the 28 community colleges went up 23,958 -- or 11 percent -- to 234,832 in 2008. General fund appropriations to universities have stayed stagnant during that time. The lack of inflationary increases prompted universities to rely more heavily on tuition dollars. Average freshman tuition among the 15 state universities was $5,986 in the 2004-05 school year and $8,601 in 2008-09 school year -- an increase of 44 percent. The average cost per credit hour at community colleges, which rely also on local property taxes for revenue, increased 21 percent during that time frame, from $61.48 to $74.30.
Set high expectations for high school students through rigorous standards and curriculum

Status: In 2006, the governor signed legislation giving Michigan one of the toughest sets of high school graduation requirements in the nation. The class of 2011 will be the first to graduate with four credits of English and math (including algebra I and II), three credits of social studies and science (including biology and chemistry or physics), a credit each of arts and physical/health education, and one online course.

 New high school assessment

Status: In 2007, the high school MEAP exam was replaced with the souped-up Michigan Merit Exam. All high school juniors must take the test, which includes the ACT college entrance exam.

 Create a culture of entrepreneurship

Status: Many colleges and universities have launched or expanded their entrepreneurship programs and centers since the Cherry Commission report. The state's 15 public universities formed a consortium called the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2007 with the goal of creating up to 200 new Michigan startups over the next decade while fostering an atmosphere of entrepreneurship on campus. The initiative aims to raise and distribute $75 million from foundations to bridge the gap between university research and commercial development.

 Implement new strategies for high school success

Status: Gov. Jennifer Granholm unveiled her plan for the 21st Century Schools Fund in her 2008 State of the State address, where districts and charter schools compete for grant money to fund new schools or break up existing low-performing buildings into smaller schools. Detroit, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids and others are currently vying for the $8 million fund. The state will award grants by next school year. The newer, smaller schools must reach an 80 percent graduation rate by their third graduating class and at least 80 percent of them must enroll in post-secondary education within six months or the district will have to repay half of the grant money.

 Equip educators and administrators to support high-expectations high school path

Status: While some districts have taken action to help teachers adapt to the new curriculum, there has been no statewide policy. The Michigan Department of Education is developing changes in how teachers are licensed, including more emphasis on effectiveness rather than years of experience and college coursework.

 Create community compacts for educational attainment

Status: Following the Kalamazoo Promise, which guarantees college tuition for public school graduates, the Michigan Legislature passed in December Promise Zone legislation. The legislation will allow up to 10 high-poverty communities to capture half the growth in state education tax generated in their zones to offer scholarships. Communities must first raise necessary private funding before they can use the property tax funding.

 Improve institutional completion measures

Status: While some universities such as Wayne State have taken steps to boost student retention rates, overall graduation rates haven't shown marked improvement. Of the 39 four-year colleges in Michigan tracked by the Education Trust, about half had a decrease or no improvement in their six-year graduation rate from 2004 and 2006, the latest year available; the other half had an increase in graduation rates.

 Expand access to baccalaureate institutions and degrees

Status: A bill sits in a House committee that would allow community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in certain fields, but it has met resistance from public university lobbyists. Community colleges have upped their partnerships with four-year universities to ease transfers. For example, Macomb Community College offers a concurrent enrollment program with Oakland University known as M2O, as well as university centers on campus.

 Expand opportunities for early college achievement

Status: No laws have been passed to address the state funding model for dual enrollment. But the establishment of high schools with early college programs has increased the opportunities for dual enrollment in some districts. In 2007, six early college high schools were launched in the state, aided by $2 million in state funds. The experimental high schools, such as Henry Ford Early College in Dearborn, are partnerships with community colleges, universities and health care providers. In five years, students will graduate with high school diplomas, associate degrees and credentials to join the health care work force.

 Improve transfer process and award dual degrees

Status: The Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers launched in November 2007 the Michigan Transfer Network site that allows students, advisers and the public to view transfer course equivalencies between Michigan colleges and universities. More than 60 institutions have signed on and about 20 others still need to upload their data. See:

 Increase the number of post-baccalaureate professionals; Michigan businesses and foundations must create a significant endowment to fund scholarships for post-baccalaureate degrees

Status: Endowment has not been created and graduate tuition reimbursement programs were eliminated by many auto and related companies in light of the recession.

 Target adults seeking to complete post-secondary credentials

Status: A blanket amnesty program has not been passed to honor expired college credits, but campuses have embraced the "Return to Learn" campaign to get adults back to school and to award credit for work experience. The state launched the No Worker Left Behind Program in 2007, which pays up to $10,000 in tuition over two years for displaced workers seeking training in emerging careers. In 19 months, the program put 69,000 people in training.

 Conduct an analysis of higher education capacity needs

Status: While regional studies have occurred, the state has not conducted a comprehensive assessment of capacity.

 Create an emerging economy initiative

Status: In 2005, the state launched the 21st Century Jobs Fund, a $2 billion, 10-year investment in emerging businesses in the fields of advanced automotive, alternative energy, life sciences and homeland security.

 Commercialize more research

Status: Universities have increased efforts to transfer their discoveries from their laboratories to the marketplace. Notably, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University formed the University Research Corridor in 2006 to better align their resources to spark economic development and speed up technology transfer. The URC brings more than $1.38 billion for research into the state annually.

 Align post-secondary education with economic needs and opportunities

Status: The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth developed a strategic plan to identify and grow emerging industries. Through the No Worker Left Behind initiative, Green Jobs initiative, and other economic development efforts, colleges have worked closely with the department to align their curriculum with emerging industries.

 Expand the role of higher education institutions in community development

Status: Colleges and universities continue to spark economic development in their communities. Although they are hard to measure, notable projects have been Wayne State's continuous development in midtown Detroit and Grand Valley State University's development of a downtown Grand Rapids campus.

 Develop a lifelong education tracking system

Status; A federal grant will fund the Michigan College Access Web portal, which should be running by fall 2010. The system should be a one-stop shop for students to apply for financial aid, send electronic transcripts to colleges, learn more about colleges and more.

 As a requirement of accepting federal stimulus dollars, Michigan must create a pre-kindergarten to grade 16 tracking system, which will better measure student progress and educational outcomes. Major components of the database should be complete by the 2010-11 school year.

 Sources: Detroit News research, Office of the Governor, DELEG, Department of Education

Posted on Monday, June 15, 2009 (Archive on Monday, June 22, 2009)
Posted by   Contributed by