On Monday, Sept. 21, I hosted a forum at the Canton Township Hall with a focus on education. The goal of the forum was to give students, parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials the opportunity to jointly discuss the achievements of our education system, and the challenges it faces, both locally and at the state level.

The forum featured several special guests from the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (P-CCS) community: Superintendent Michael Meissen, Board of Education Treasurer Sheila Paton and Discovery Middle School teacher Adrienne Quinn.

The main topic of discussion was how Michigan can become a top-ten education state. Michigan was once highly ranked in both educational quality and student achievement, but has fallen behind in recent years. Michigan can learn a lot from Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, as P-CCS consistently ranks among the top districts in our state (I am also a proud graduate of P-CCS).

Superintendent Meissen noted that 95 percent of P-CCS students go on to some form of post-high school education. That number is truly amazing, and I applaud our district’s efforts to offer high-quality programs that steer K-12 students to look beyond high school towards further learning opportunities and skilled trades.

However, P-CCS continues to be forced to do more with less. We have suffered locally from strained funding levels, and as a result rely heavily upon state funding allocations. The consequences of this have been increased class sizes, privatization of cafeteria, custodial, and bus transportation services, as well as a freeze on teacher salaries.

The quality of our education system is essential to both the future of our children and the success of our economy. I was honored to host solution-driven forum focused on how to improve Michigan’s schools. I will continue to make education my number one priority, and I believe that is what my community is asking of its leaders — to be a strong voice for students, teachers and our education system as a whole.