A generation ago, Michigan led the world in public education. This was the state families packed up and moved to because parents knew their children could get a quality education and the skills they needed to get a good-paying job. As a mom with two daughters in high school, these are the same opportunities I want for my own kids.
But over the past eight years, Republicans in Lansing have sided with Betsy DeVos to push an education agenda that included slashing school funding, expanding unaccountable for-profit managed charter schools, over-emphasizing standardized tests, attacking hard-working educators and adopting a one-size fits all approach to education that has left our kids behind.
This agenda has resulted in Michigan being near the bottom of the country on almost every meaningful metric from student literacy to college preparedness. Our educational crisis affects urban, rural and suburban school systems alike, and it disproportionately affects kids who are at-risk or have special needs.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Michigan needs a governor who knows how to get things done to fix our schools, so every student has the support, tools and skills they need to compete for high-wage jobs and have full and productive lives. Students are preparing for jobs that don’t even exist today, which means we must teach them how to think critically, to problem solve complex issues and to work as a team. That’s what this agenda is all about.
My plan focuses on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. We will prioritize early childhood education funding and get Michigan on a path to universal preschool to ensure that when kids enter kindergarten, they are ready to learn.
When children enter school, they need safe classrooms with high quality teachers to meet them where they are and help them succeed. Michigan will respect our educators and treat them as professionals, instead of attacking them for Lansing’s policy failures. We will expand offerings that give every child – regardless of their zip code – exposure to a full curriculum of classes and opportunities to find the right path for their future.
Lastly, when a child reaches high school, we need to help them develop a plan so they leave prepared for further education – be it with a certificate in the skilled trades, technical apprenticeship or to pursue a college track career. We must provide pathways of equal rigor for all these options. We will expose students to a wider variety of jobs earlier, so they have time to pursue classes that prepare them for life in the workforce. If their path is college, we will help them select the best one for their needs and provide a two-year debt-free talent investment if they work hard.
Making these changes won’t be easy, but I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work with anyone who is serious about finding solutions to improve our schools and help every student build a good life right here in Michigan.
My plan for improving public education focuses on:
Quality Education from Cradle to Career
Paths to Prosperity with a Highly Educated Workforce
Respect for Educators
Stabilizing School Funding and Improving Accountability