A classroom teacher has joined the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as director of its Education Policy Initiative.
Michael D. Van Beek comes to the Center from his position as history teacher and assistant administrator at North Hills Classical Academy in Grand Rapids. North Hills is one of relatively few schools in Michigan that offer the classical model of education, which emphasizes classical literature and languages, discussion of great ideas, logic and rhetoric as ways to foster love of learning.
"I am pleased to join the Mackinac Center in its work towards advocating innovative educational reforms that are good for Michigan students, parents and taxpayers,” Van Beek said.
Van Beek earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Hope College in 2003 and a master’s degree in American history from Purdue University in 2005. He received the Hope Sophomore Book Award in 2001 and the Metta J. Ross History Prize in 2002.
In addition to his academic pursuits, Van Beek was a collegiate baseball standout, named Most Valuable Player by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 2003 and twice named to the All-Mideast Region Team.
As director of education policy, Van Beek will lead the Center’s work to advance free-market education policy reforms that allow parents to choose the best schools for their children, create incentives for quality improvement in all schools and promote effective use of educational resources.
In recent years the Education Policy Initiative has sponsored major studies on teacher merit pay, public school finance and collective bargaining, as well as hosting public forums on education reform. The initiative also publishes Michigan Education Report, an online journal; and Michigan Education Digest, a weekly e-mail summary of education news.
"Mike has lived the ideal we want for all Michigan schools — highly involved parents, rigorous academic standards, time-tested curricula and a workplace where teachers are treated as professionals, not cogs in a machine," said Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman.
Van Beek and his wife, Leanne, have one son, Charlie.