Are these national trends in schooling and learning characteristic of education in Michigan, too?
There is little reason to believe that any state has substantially escaped the most disturbing developments in American education over the last two decades. In Michigan, average combined SAT scores are virtually the same as the national average – 906 in Michigan versus 904 nationwide in 1988. Michigan's scores have also followed national trends very closely. During the 1970s (state data on the 1960s are unavailable), when national scores fell 50 points, scores in Michigan dropped 46 points. During the 1980s, when national scores recovered 10 points, Michigan scores grew by more – 19 points, bringing them up to the national average. But despite this improvement, scores in Michigan remain well below where they were a generation ago. In addition, the percentage of Michigan's citizens with at least a high school education – only 68 percent at last count – has never differed from the national percentage by more than 2 points. School performance in Michigan has mirrored the slipping performance of schools nationwide.
Michigan has also followed the national trends in school finance. Per pupil education spending in Michigan – $3,954 in 1987 – is just above the national median: twenty states spend more than Michigan; twenty-nine states spend less. Michigan has allocated its expenditures in the same troubling way as the nation as a whole. While Michigan increased its real per pupil spending 68 percent between 1970 and 1987, it gave teachers only a 15 percent real increase in salaries over the same period. As in other states, some of this discrepancy can be explained by a reduction in pupil-teacher ratios. But with a ratio of 20.1 to 1 in 1988, Michigan ranked 45th among all states, and had used less of its increased resources to reduce pupil-teacher ratios than other states: twenty years earlier its staffing ratio was about the same as the national average. The fact is, a good deal of the increase in school spending went to finance the rising cost of bureaucracy. In Michigan, administrators represent 18 percent of all public school employment, about one third more than in the nation as a whole. Less than half of Michigan's public school employees (49 percent in 1983) are classroom teachers.