Governor Addresses Education in State of the State

MEA President Paula Herbart on Wednesday praised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to help Michigan parents and children learn how they can avoid the punitive retention piece of the state’s new third grade reading law.

“Gov. Whitmer should be commended for addressing how to truly help all Michigan children be better readers, without leaving behind our most vulnerable students,” Herbart said.

In her State of the State Address on Wednesday evening, Whitmer announced she would partner with several philanthropic foundations to educate families about exemptions written in the law that can allow students identified for retention to advance to fourth grade.

Whitmer also discussed education funding and her commitment to properly fund schools with weighted funding for students with greater needs – a position that Herbart noted is critical to Michigan’s future.

“For too long, because of inaction and a refusal to invest in our schools, we’ve continued to fall behind – despite the best efforts of frontline educators to do more with less,” Herbart said. “Gov. Whitmer showed again tonight that she understands that – and is committed to taking action that advances public education for all students.”

Some key quotes from Gov. Whitmer’s speech:

On partnering with foundations to help families navigate the third-grade reading law: “This punitive law could be a nightmare for families and this initiative will give parents and students the resources and support they need to get through it.”

On weighted education funding: “All Michigan students should have the opportunity to go to properly funded schools. The one size fits all approach doesn’t work. Any teacher can tell you, every student has potential, but their needs are often different. … Equitable funding is essential to meeting the needs of our at risk students and students with special needs. Ensuring that every child gets the skills to graduate and succeed in our workforce.”

On the governor’s FAFSA Challenge and unlocking financial aid for higher education: “Last year, Michigan students left $100 million in federal financial aid on the table … Filling out this form is important for your future. Everyone deserves a path to postsecondary success.”

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