[Photo of Ben DeGrow]

Ben DeGrow

Director of Education Policy

Ben DeGrow is the Mackinac Center’s director of education policy. 

DeGrow joined the Center in 2015 after a long stint at Colorado’s Independence Institute, where he provided expert analysis on school choice, school finance, collective bargaining and education employment policies. He authored numerous policy reports and opinion-editorials for various newspapers and other publications, and regularly appeared on radio and television and before legislative committees.

DeGrow graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in history from Hillsdale College, and went on to receive a master’s degree in history from Pennsylvania State University. Ben’s experiences in the classroom include service as a university graduate assistant and as a substitute teacher in Michigan public schools. He also spent nearly a year on the editorial staff of the Hillsdale Daily News.

Originally from Oakland County, DeGrow is excited to be back in his home state after 13 years in Colorado. He brings with him his wife and three daughters, as well as his undying loyalty to the Detroit Tigers.

School Districts Exaggerate the Harms of Losing Students to Choice

Bullying is a Huge Problem – School Choice is Helping Solve It

Bold action is needed to give families more options … more

School Districts Exaggerate the Harms of Losing Students to Choice

Freedom, flexibility needed more than extra funds … more

For Some Students, Transportation is a Barrier to a Better Education

Accessing Better Detroit Schools Out of Reach for Some

Transportation scholarships could help level playing field … more

Helping More Michigan Students Learn to Read

Campaign promises are likely not enough … more

Choice Satisfies Most Parents, Appeals to Most Voters

Cyber School: Excelling in Unexpected Ways

Don't Put Faith in Class-Size Reduction

Research shows little academic benefit for immense cost … more

Innovative School Districts Seek Greater Flexibility

Legislative proposal would aid Madison, Center Line, others … more

Choice Satisfies Most Parents, Appeals to Most Voters

New surveys highlight favorable experiences, need for more options … more

Here’s One Way Michigan Miscalculates High School Graduation Rates

Michigan Parents and Voters Strongly Support School Choice

Charter school parents extremely satisfied and voters favor expanding school choice options … more

Guiding Quality Growth in the Charter Sector

Workshop sessions focus on developing successful new schools … more

Later High School Start Times Should Stay Local Decision

Change by Berkley district cites academic benefit … more

Poll: Mich. Voters Back Tax Benefits for School Choice

Strong majority endorse use of 529 plans to help fund K-12 tuition … more

MDE Overreach a Serious Concern

New rules attack cyber school option for families … more

Campaign Promises Show Misunderstanding of Charter School Landscape

ISD-Run Special Education at Bottom of the Pack

Michigan only state cited for failing special-needs students … more

A Political Fiction that Won’t Go Away

Candidates wrongly claim state education funds have been cut … more

Higher Taxes Would Offer Little for Ottawa Schools

Millage money more fairly shared, but promises little results … more

Whitmer Education Plan Trips Over Charter Schools

Solutions in search of imagined problems raise questions … more

Study Links Catholic Education and Self-Discipline

Families may have new tool to support private school choices … more

Michigan’s New Testing Regime is Better But Should Be Improved

Detroit Charters Send More Graduates to College Than Peers Do

Longer-term outcomes back up test-score advantages for charter schools … more

Michigan Doesn't Fit Profile for Teacher Walkouts

More already spent on teacher salaries, less on nonteaching staff … more

New Law Removes Obstacles to Classroom

SB 727 should help alleviate teacher shortage outcry … more

Rural School Makes Fast Rise

Akron-Fairgrove among most improved on Mackinac report card … more

DeVos is Right About Michigan Charter Schools

State’s Education Woes Require Full Assessment

BLM report takes on key myths but misses complete picture … more

Detroit Prep

Hamtramck Academy Tops Mackinac Report Card

NHA charter school aims high, beats odds, busts myths … more

Dearborn Schools Rise to the Top

District has remarkable showing on new CAP report card … more

Put ISD Funding on Education Budget Table

While agency spending grows, Guv seeks student-based cuts … more

Detroit Schools Will Sell to a Prison, But Not a Charter School

Moves criticized by parents and community members … more

Mackinac Center Ranks Michigan’s Elementary and Middle Schools

The third edition of the Context and Performance Report Card unveiled … more

Education Budget Should Back Parents' Priorities

Snyder's proposal undercuts cyber school, shared time options … more

There is No Shortage of Teachers

New Video Series Looks Underneath the Hood at How School Funding Works

6-part video series examines school funding in Michigan … more

Michigan Charters Get More Bang for the Buck

Charter Schools a Valuable Investment for Taxpayers

Charters prove more cost effective and produce larger ROI … more

Snyder, New Report Pitch for More Education Dollars

Evidence lacking for any significant impact on achievement … more

School Choice Week Puts Michigan Progress in Perspective

Choice popular with parents, still needs vigorous defense … more

Education Policy Expert Provides Important Perspective on New School Finance Study

Increased funding won’t automatically improve educational outcomes … more

Many Michigan Families Sacrifice for Choice

Documentary shows how Blaine Amendment limits education options … more

School Choice Breaks Down Racial Barriers

Mackinac Supports Parents Who Seek Choice in Education

School Choice Breaks Down Racial Barriers

Some districts’ residency requirements reinforce segregation … more

Parents Deserve Clear Information About School Performance

Letter grades work for students, they can work for schools too … more

Change Careers to Teaching? Take the SAT

MEA Attack on Online Charters Misses Mark

Policy based on bad data, double standards would hurt families … more

Change Careers to Teaching? Take the SAT

New bureaucratic rule constricts educator pipeline … more

Don’t Push the School Funding Panic Button

DeVos: Fight for Students, Not Over Them

Secretary of Education makes powerful case for parental choice … more

Education Officials Avoid Obvious Solutions

Reforms needed before taking teacher shortage claims seriously … more

Don’t Push the School Funding Panic Button

Districts can adapt to federal enrollment projections … more

Listen to Michigan Parents Who Use School Choice

Charter Schools Face Funding, Facility Inequities

Legislation, possible legal showdown could help shrink gap … more

Most Michigan Parents Satisfied with School Choice

Superintendent Whiston backtracks from “backwards” claim … more

Michigan Parents Satisfied with Education Choice

New study looks at the factors driving increased school choice … more

A Survey of Michigan Parents Who Use School Choice

This report highlights the results of a survey conducted of Michigan parents who exercise some form of public school choice for their children. Among the diverse group of 837 parents from across the state who were interviewed, substantial majorities gave high marks to their chosen schools, said the experience boosted their expectations of their children’s future success and would likely recommend choice options to other parents. Respondents also said that information they receive from other parents influences their school choice decisions, in addition to published school performance data and in-person visits. Survey results further revealed that most parents highly value academics in making their decision, though safety and discipline are leading considerations as well. … more

A “Not Welcome” Sign for Special-Needs Students

Nonresidents denied local special education dollars in 21 ISDs … more

Let Local Schools Decide Their Calendars

More districts seeking freedom from Labor Day mandate … more

Measuring Success in Alternative Education

Programs serving dropout risks need meaningful metrics too … more

Help for School Choice May Come From Washington

‘Public Education’ Not Easy to Define

Questions raised by rally for more school funding … more

Mackinac Center Publishes New Report to Simplify Complexities of Education Funding

How School Funding Works in Michigan can serve as resource for all stakeholders … more

How School Funding Works in Michigan

Discussions about school funding can create more confusion than clarity. Each state has its own intricacies and peculiarities. Michigan is no exception. Funding flows down from different sources, often based on different formulas and intended for different purposes. There’s no one unified system that controls school funding — rather, schools rely on a number of systems layered on top of each to supply them with resources.
This publication presents a brief overview of some of the key components of Michigan’s school funding system, if it can be called that. The goal is to provide a general understanding of how tax dollars reach schools and what they are intended for.  … more

Special Needs Families Deserve Transparency

Posting ISD special education plans enables sound decisions … more

Teacher Shortage in Detroit Calls For New Policies

Free Press Omits Key CREDO Charter School Finding

Students learning more from most Michigan for-profit operators … more

Vitti’s ‘Student-First’ Agenda Faces Early Test

Pay limits for incoming teachers an unnecessary obstacle … more

Myths and Truths of Public School Funding

Detroit Can Fill Teacher Shortages

Credentials, compensation offer keys to solve problem … more

School Funding in Michigan Reaches All-Time High

Record revenues for schools likely will continue … more

Central Academy Excels on High School Report Card

Ann Arbor charter builds cultural awareness, character … more

Save Closures for Truly Failing Schools

Context needed for decisions, whether by state or local officials … more

Wake-Up Call Helps Rural School Bloom

Bloomingdale leaves state watch list … more

School Inc. Could Open Michigan Viewers’ Eyes

New documentary closely follows major Arizona choice law … more

Don't Force Charter Schools Into State Pension Plan

Governor’s Cyber School Cuts Don’t Add Up

Trust Parents with School Grading System

No good reason to complicate or hide information … more

A Case for Popular ISD Board Elections

Agencies spending more of state’s K-12 tax dollars … more

New Report Card Can Make School Closing Decisions Better

Wellspring Prep Growing Strong

Diverse Grand Rapids charter readies kids for college … more

Governor’s Cyber School Cuts Don’t Add Up

Online charters already perform OK for much less money … more

Baldwin High School Beats the Odds

Unique rural community bolstered by college focus, innovative initiatives … more

Compel School Districts to Reward Great Teachers

Wisconsin study highlights benefits of performance pay … more

Family Finds Online School to Be a Lifesaver

Education accountability system needs to be parent-friendly … more

Practical, Moral Arguments Bolster School Choice Advocates

A Better Way to Rank Schools

Saginaw’s Lowest Performing Schools Get the Most Money

More funding won’t fix failing schools … more

Putting the Pieces in Place for School Choice

Big picture points to more hopeful action … more

Mackinac Center Responds to State’s School Rankings

State report confirms need for new grading system … more