No matter if school is just around the corner or many years past, the first autumnal gusts tend to bring to mind freshly sharpened pencils and lined-paper booklets. Education is a hugely important part of everyone’s lives, as well as a cornerstone of the Mackinac Center’s research.

Fitting then that our feature this issue focuses on Thirkell Elementary (Page 10), an admirable example of what can be done to improve the education of children when they are kept the focus.

The Mackinac Center’s recent elementary and middle school report card was released in early summer, and it held a surprising note for many people: the top-ranked school was in the Detroit Public Schools system, and over 75 percent of students at Thirkell Elementary are from underprivileged families.

When newly named Director of Education Policy Audrey Spalding went to meet with the principal, parents and faculty, she realized that a key component to Thirkell’s success in improving its students’ educational outcomes was a culture of respect.

Principles make a big difference, no matter what the policy.

This was made abundantly clear by the Mackinac Center’s unlikely alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan over government transparency (Page 7). We, along with the ACLU, the Michigan Press Association and others, teamed up and hosted town hall meetings across the state to highlight the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings acts. These informational events educated regular citizens on how to increase transparency and accountability, regardless of government size. The Center is also planning on a study that will comprehensively investigate the state
of these laws and offer recommendations to the Legislature regarding improved access of information for citizens.

Covering all our bases, the Mackinac Center is also developing an app with our MichiganVotes initiative that will allow you and other Michiganders to interact with your legislators in a new way regarding their individual votes (Back Cover). Stay tuned for news bulletins on that one!

In the thick of so many important battles, such as right-to-work and everyone’s right to government transparency, a theme that resonates and repeats is “principle.” Regardless of who you’re standing with, if a policy broadens and increases freedom, the Mackinac Center believes that will be better for everybody.

We’ve been standing by that principle for 25 years, and will for many, many more years to come.

All best,
Lindsey Dodge, editor