The COVID-19 pandemic exposed, in plain view of many parents, the inability of Michigan’s public education system to adapt and deliver enough meaningful opportunities for students. Lacking proper support, many of those young people may have their academic careers irreparably damaged. Rather than continue propelling all students through the same rigid factory-style apparatus, state leaders can give them more tools and resources to take charge of their learning.
The standard middle and high school experience, completed within the orbit of one campus and its menu of available classes, works well for some students. But others may excel when given different options and pathways to pursue, using digital courses and other less traditional means. Those more likely to embrace a viable, customizable alternative include rural and economically disadvantaged students, though others may benefit as well. And if widespread school closures happen again, these options will help the state offer a much more robust menu of options for parents and students.
Flex Learning provides an innovative answer for young people lacking the opportunity, intrinsic motivation or financial means to master academic content and skills, and ultimately to attain a diploma. The time has come for Michigan to take the lead in giving priority to the needs and potential of individual students. With a host of educational institutions and providers to call on, students should be able to take greater ownership of both their academic journey and their destination.