Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives this week sunk to a new and surprising low. They voted en masse to slash education funding from students in kindergarten and elementary school who are struggling to read after a year of pandemic-related classroom disruptions.
Make no mistake – this was an attack on struggling public school students, and it was a galling flip-flop that reinforces the worst stereotypes about politicians in Lansing. Just days before their vote to slash the reading funds, almost every one of those Democrats had actually voted to give them to struggling students.
This is the worst kind of politics, not because it’s brazenly hypocritical, but because it’s intentionally designed to hurt Michigan’s kids.
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project
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Earlier this month, lawmakers stood together – Republicans and Democrats – and approved a landmark education spending bill that eliminated the gap in foundation allowance payments for every public school student in the state, and they backed a bipartisan scholarship package to help struggling readers get caught up after a year of lost learning and locked classrooms.
The legislation spent $155 million to give parents opportunities to hire tutors, get summer school, reading programs and other supports if their K-5 children weren’t reading at grade level after a pandemic year.
The truth is, Michigan students are struggling. Governor Whitmer and local bureaucrats locked them out of their classrooms for months at a time – sometimes more – with anti-science executive orders and union-promoted shutdown decisions.
These reading scholarships were an additional helping hand for the kids who needed it the most during some of the most critical years in their educational journey. They were given to fund tutoring, reading programs, educational materials and even summer school programs.
Lansing is awash in COVID relief funding from Washington, D.C. The state has billions to spend helping kids catch up, and to meet the unique challenges posed by the pandemic.
Despite it all, House Democrats cut off Lansing’s helping hand just days after they’d voted to extend it. It’s the kind of betrayal parents won’t forget.
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