[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 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

Detroit Charters Far Outperform Traditional Schools

Mackinac’s CAP scores align with rigorous research findings … more

How Education Secretary DeVos Could Help Michigan Advance Choice

Two federal proposals that avoid dangerous overreach … more

Why Trade Schools Matter to Detroit

A Forced Marriage to Intermediate School Districts

School district leaders reportedly threatened … more

Four Stories Show the Value of Educational Options

Critic Still Misses Mark on Detroit Charter Research

The trouble with doubling down on anti-DeVos criticism … more

School Choice on the National Stage

How Can New Education Secretary Best Advance Opportunities? … more

How to Revamp Michigan’s School Rating System

Include comparisons, tie growth to standards and issue grades … more

Research Is Clear When It Comes To School Choice

DeGrow op-ed published in The Detroit News … more

Northridge Academy Still Growing Strong

Beating odds the beginning for Flint charter school … more

An Opportunity to Improve School Funding Equity?

Pushback against federal regulation should not preclude local reform … more

How Saginaw Prep Turned Around Academically

Charter school shedding 'priority' label … more

Voters Support School Choice

Here are the Issues Facing Detroit Schools

Adding to the dialogue … more

Superintendent Pay, Contract Database Updated

109 school district heads paid $200,000+

 … more

More to Charter Special Ed Gap than Meets the Eye

Disability types, local conditions drive disparity … more

An Inspiration for Expanding Detroit’s Educational Choices

The second in a two-part series on Detroit Cristo Rey High School … more

An 'Exclusive' Private School, But Not Like You Think

The first in a two-part series on Detroit Cristo Rey High School … more

Voters’ Support for School Choice Remains Strong

Most Detroit residents want more options … more

New Survey Finds Broad Support For School Choice In Michigan

Survey of likely voters shows broad support … more

Charter School-Prison Comparison Misses the Mark

Analyzing recent attacks on school choice … more

Putting School Funding Inequity in Perspective

Proposal A has not been a dismal failure … more

Michigan Adequacy Study Shows the State Already Spends Plenty on Education

Honest Education Discussion Requires Counting All the Dollars

Michigan should spend smarter before spending more … more

School Choice Benefits All Students

DeGrow debates value of private schools on WalletHub … more

School Choice Withstands Twists and Turns of Detroit Debate

No Easy Answers in Highland Park

Students continue to flee troubled district … more

Private Schools Could Save Michigan $750 Million a Year

Michigan Adequacy Study Shows the State Already Spends Plenty on Education

New study provides few clear-cut answers … more

Mackinac Center Weighs in on State’s Education Adequacy Study

State media covers school funding study … more

Mackinac Center Weighs In On State’s Education Adequacy Study

Spending more money won't help unless it is spent in effective ways … more

MSU Scholar Ignores School Revenue Sources

Says revenue has been cut … more

More School Spending is Still Unlikely to Boost Achievement

A response to a critique of ‘School Spending and Student Achievement in Michigan: What’s the Relationship’ … more

House Refuses to Ration School Choice for Detroit Parents, Children

Hard work, hopeful opportunities lie ahead … more

Lawmakers Must Preserve Choice in DPS Bailout

Op-eds in The Detroit News and Midland Daily News … more

Detroit Bailout's Charter School Restrictions Not About What's Best for Kids

The State of Private Schools in Michigan

Survey provides new information about this unique education sector … more

History Shows Delayed Adequacy Study Will Call for More Money

Michigan already spends more per pupil than the national average … more

A Survey of Michigan's Private Education Sector

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.
According to data collected by the state, Michigan has 601 private schools that enroll about 113,000 students — about 7 percent of all students in the state. All but 14 of Michigan’s 84 counties have at least one private school operating within their boundaries. Despite the fact that private schools in Michigan are widespread, there is very little publicly available information about them. In response to this need, the Mackinac Center, with the help of the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools, conducted a survey of private school administrators from all across the state. … more

Group Hired To Assess Michigan Education Spending Always Recommends More

Op-ed published in Lansing State Journal … more

School Choice Opponents Pick Institutions Over Special Needs Families

Students with special needs should have access to real choices … more

Michigan Parents Deserve a Statewide Report Card for Schools

How Two Similar School Districts Get Such Different Results

Study suggests funding levels have little impact on student growth … more

Education Spending Not Tied To Success

New study featured in state media … more

Detroit Free Press, USA Today Publish Letter Dispelling Charter School Myth

Charter schools may not refuse students selectively … more

New Study: No Correlation Between School Spending and Student Outcomes

Study finds spending more on Michigan schools doesn’t increase achievement … more

School Spending and Student Achievement in Michigan: What's the Relationship?

Click here to view the PDF of the full study.

Does Michigan devote enough money to primary and secondary education? Do school districts receive enough revenue to ensure the vast majority of enrolled students graduate college or career ready? How much does it cost to provide a quality educational experience? These are the types of questions for which the Michigan Legislature recently paid nearly $400,000 to obtain some answers.

These answers would clearly be helpful to policymakers who determine how many tax dollars to allocate to schools. But these concerns about the adequate level of school funding are based in part on the common assumption that spending more on K-12 schools will generate better academic outcomes. A more fundamental question that policymakers might want to answer before determining the appropriate level of funding for schools is: What is the relationship between school spending and student achievement in Michigan?

That is the question this paper attempts to answer.
To read a response to a critique of this study, click here. … more

Trust Parents with Schools of Choice

Don't restrict opportunity for 'historically disadvantaged' student groups … more