State of the State focuses on education, reading

In her second State of the State address, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer spoke to the critical needs of ensuring that students are prepared to learn as they enter school, and ready for success as they graduate high school.

This included a focus on early literacy and Michigan’s third-grade reading law. Now in full effect, the law would require third-grade students who are one or more grade level behind in reading to repeat the third grade, unless they qualify for and exemption or waiver from the 2016-passed law.

“Michigan’s third-grade reading rates have been widely recognized by members of both political parties as at a crisis point,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest. “Last year, fewer than half of all students at the end of grade three were reading and writing at grade level. The impact of this crisis falls the hardest on students from low-income families and students of color. While significant investments have been made in this area, we have not yet seen significantly better outcomes for students.

Since late 2018, The Education Trust-Midwest and Detroit Parent Network have worked to help parents better understand their rights under Michigan’s third grade reading law, with the support of the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. The need for this work in communities across the state is undeniable, and we are pleased to see this type of collaboration highlighted in Governor Whitmer’s State of the State address.

Take the Fair Funding Pledge

Budgets reflect priorities, so what does Michigan school funding say about our values? Today, Michigan is one of the bottom five states nationwide for equitable school funding. We are failing to provide equal opportunity for student success.

The impact of this fundamental unfairness falls hardest on students with the greatest needs: those from low-income families, new English speakers, special education students and those attending schools that are isolated, or are in areas with high concentrations of poverty or low property wealth.

Our future as a state rests on the shoulders of our children and our children deserve better.

Join the Education Trust-Midwest in telling legislative leaders that you prioritize fairness in opportunity and equity in education. Add your name to the Fair Funding Pledge today.

Capital Update

HOUSE AND SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEES will meet on Thursday, February 6 at 10:30 a.m. in room 352 of the Capitol for a presentation of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s fiscal year 2021 and 2022 budget recommendations. This will include the School Aid budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2020.

SENATE ECONOMIC AND SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE will meet on Thursday, February 6 at noon in room 1200 of the Binsfeld Office Building. The agenda includes House Bills 5187 (Warren, D) and 5188 (Huizenga, R), which would require the School Aid Fund to be reimbursed for the amount of revenue lost through an extension of tax exemptions for certain data center equipment, which was originally passed in 2015. Funds to reimburse for the lost revenue would come from Michigan’s general funding, which covers the vast majority of spending other than public education.

Tweet of the Week

@edtrustmidwest: All of Michigan's children deserve an equal opportunity to succeed. Today they don't have one -- but that can change. Our latest report features recommendations based on both national research findings and leading states' work. Read the full report at