Statement of MEA President Paula Herbart on Gov. Whitmer’s State of the State Address

EAST LANSING – The following can be attributed to MEA President Paula Herbart regarding tonight’s State of the State address from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:“It is a welcome change for Michigan’s school employees to hear from our governor about the need to respect and listen to educators on the front lines. Michigan teachers and education support professionals work every day, from pre-K through graduate school, to help every student succeed, often in tough situations. Michigan’s public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy and our economy, and I want to thank Gov. Whitmer for recognizing that our system – not our educators or our students – needs to be fixed.

“None of this is going to be easy, especially when it comes to addressing the systematic underfunding of public education.  Whether it’s the School Finance Research Collaborative’s adequacy study or the recent report from MSU about Michigan’s dismal record of education funding increases over the past 25 years, the research is clear that this isn’t a problem that started yesterday – or will be fixed in full tomorrow.  We must start this conversation from a recognition that we are not adequately or equitably funding our students’ educations, then work from there to find real solutions.

“Those solutions must lead us to closing the skills gap and helping students continue their education beyond high school to meet the needs of modern jobs.  Setting a goal of 60 percent of Michigan’s students getting a post-secondary degree or training by 2030 is the kind of high bar we need from leaders like Gov. Whitmer.  Whether students are pursuing 2- or 4-year degrees or other training and apprenticeships, we must help them to afford those opportunities, which is why the governor’s MI Opportunity Scholarship is essential to meeting our goal.

“We can and must work together – across party and ideological divides – to accomplish our goals for our students and our state.  To that end, MEA is proud to be part of Launch Michigan, an alliance working together across the education, business and philanthropic communities to find common ground on education policy. This past week, Launch Michigan fielded a statewide educator survey that garnered over 13,000 responses.  In the spirit of Gov. Whitmer’s call for both bipartisanship and listening to our front-line education experts, I hope every educator answers that survey to make our voices heard in the critical education discussions we must have together.”

Contact:   Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-896-4465

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MEA member Melissa Lambert, a librarian at Allen Park High School, with MEA Vice President Brett Smith (center) and Allen Park Education President Joel Burkey.

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