Morris Hood Jr. Educator Development Program

Time for the Legislature to end it

Good intentions are no substitute for sound results, and nowhere is this more evident than in public policy. Correcting a possible policy mistake should therefore be a priority when lawmakers begin work on the next state budget. An initiative that funnels minority students into teacher preparation programs is a prime candidate

The “Morris Hood Jr. Educator Development Program” will cost taxpayers $148,600 this year, but after 17 years of trying it’s hard to find any sign of progress toward its goals. Named after a Detroit Democrat who spent 28 years in the state House, including many as chairman of the Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee, the program was created shortly before Rep. Hood’s death in 1998.

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According to a state website, the program is designed to “increase the number of underrepresented students, especially males, who enroll in and complete K-12 teacher education programs at the baccalaureate level at state-approved teacher education institutions.” Specifically, the program “targets African American, Latino, and Native American Students …”

Data from the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information at least suggests the program hasn’t worked. If the program really is designed to increase the percentage of minority teachers in Michigan, then it has been a failure. According to CEPI, the percentage of minority teachers in Michigan has actually dropped from 10.2 percent of all teachers in 2007 to 8.9 percent in 2013. During the same period, enrollment of minority students has increased from 28.9 percent all of all students 31.7 percent.

Minority Teachers

Minority Students

The Hood program is one component of a larger “King-Chavez-Parks” initiative that Rep. Hood reportedly played a key role in launching. Mackinac Center analysts in 1996 recommended eliminating this initiative, too, on the grounds that “state resources should not be distributed on the basis of race or ethnicity.”

If accountability means anything it means ineffective programs should be eliminated so the scarce resources they consume can be allocated to more compelling needs. For example, the $148,000-plus spent on the Hood program is enough to fill 7,400 potholes.

This program is an excellent candidate for repeal, if only lawmakers would try.