GLEP: New Education Department Puts Bigger Bureaucracy Between Students and Success

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GLEP: New Education Department Puts Bigger Bureaucracy Between Students and Success

LANSING – The Great Lakes Education Project today stood up for parents and students after Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of another public school bureaucracy instead of sending more resources and control to local families.

“Nobody knows better what our kids need to succeed than their parents, and another new statewide public school bureaucracy won’t change that,” said GLEP Executive Director Beth DeShone.

“The governor and her allies in Lansing’s bureaucracy spent years locking kids out of their classrooms when parents knew better. Governor Whitmer and public school bureaucrats have spent years vetoing reading scholarships and new tutoring programs when parents knew their students were falling desperately behind after political school shutdowns. Whitmer and bureaucrats have put
Michigan’s kids further and faster behind their peers in other states when parents, pediatricians, and student advocates begged them to let kids learn. Another new bureaucracy controlled by the same governor and the same failed bureaucrats and appointees isn’t going to move the needle for our kids –
empowering parents does.”

Instead of equipping parents with funding and options to meet the specific and unique needs of their very different children, the proposal is expected to simply add funding to an already broken system.

  • Governor Whitmer vetoed $10 million in new funding for tutoring programs in 2021. The funding was designed to reimburse parents who enrolled their children in summer learning programs to combat learning loss after Whitmer locked kids out of the classroom in 2020.
  • Whitmer vetoed $155 million in additional funding for reading scholarships to help struggling readers catch up after school closures. The program would have offered $1,000 in tutoring funding to more than 125,000 students, provided $31.5 million for literacy coaches, and millions for teacher professional development in the science of reading.
  • The Governor vetoed Student Opportunity Scholarships that would have provided up to $500 million in new funding for more than 1 million Michigan K-12 students to use for academic supports including tutoring.
  • She also declined to support legislation introduced last February to provide tutoring grants to address learning loss.
  • Whitmer and bureaucratic allies created predictable and catastrophic learning loss by locking children out of the classroom while pediatricians and parents implored them to keep classrooms open.

The Michigan Department of Education late last year announced that 54 school districts with a total of 112 schools will be forced to enter into partnership agreements with the state of Michigan to help improve academic outcomes. Hundreds of other schools require additional support from the state.

The number of schools and districts in crisis has risen steeply over the last 4 years. According to a report from Gongwer News Service, the number of schools in need of comprehensive support went up from 162 in 2016-2017 to 255. Those in need of additional targeted support are up from 60 to 68, and those targeted for support and improvement is up from 63 to 138.

Test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress identified additional devastating learning loss. The NAEP scores – often referred to as the

“Nation’s Report Card” put Michigan’s 4th grade reading scores at 40th in the nation, with 4th grade math scores little better at 35th . The scores
plummeted over the last 2 years amidst unscientific school closures mandated by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and public school bureaucrats.

NAEP numbers mirror test results reported in September by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) which also indicated our students have fallen faster and farther behind in reading and math than ever imagined.

According to NCES, average scores for age 9 students fell further than at any time in more than 3 decades, while math scores for the same students declined for the first time since the implementation of the testing.

Learning experts attribute our students’ lost learning to decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic to lock children out of their classrooms, despite warnings from pediatricians and public health experts that school closures would do more harm than good.

The Great Lakes Education Project is a bi-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization supporting quality choices in public education for all Michigan students. GLEP strongly supports efforts to improve academic achievement, increase accountability and empower parental choice in our schools.