Press Release

“We are truly encouraged that Gov. Whitmer and state leaders across both sides of the aisle continue to recognize the need to prioritize public education and address the pandemic’s ongoing impact on students, especially Michigan’s most vulnerable students.

“We are particularly encouraged by the Governor’s emphasis on educational recovery from the pandemic. True recovery and improvement must begin with being honest with ourselves as Michiganders about the impact that the pandemic continues to have into its third school year — and is expected to have well beyond 2022.  That means it’s critical for Michigan to maintain the M-STEP and benchmark assessments systems while also working to ensure local districts receive data about student learning in a timely manner.  Michigan parents and educators deserve and need honest information about how each and every student is performing against national college- and career-ready benchmarks for teaching and learning.

“To prepare and plan for our state’s long-term educational recovery, we urge state leaders to invest in research-based strategies so that students not only catch up but accelerate in their learning. These priorities also should include:

  • Improving Michigan’s Early Reading Strategy: In order to raise early reading levels, more must be done to address the root causes of young readers’ challenges.  Today there is important bipartisan legislation (Sen. Bills 380, 381, 382, 383), sponsored by Sens. Jeff Irwin (D), Jim Runestad (R), Dayna Polehanki (D) and Lana Theis (R), that seeks to require ongoing student screening for dyslexia, and provides educator training and student supports to do so.  This is a great step in the right direction.  We support keeping the requirement in the legislation that all universal screening assessments must be capable of screening for the characteristics of dyslexia. We also urge the state to establish automatic screenings for students entering Michigan public schools after 3rd grade.
  • Full funding for low-income students: It’s critical that Michigan does not balance the budget on the backs of students from low-income backgrounds. That means the state should maintain full funding for students with the greatest needs, even in times of budget shortfalls. In recent budget years, the legislature has underfunded students who are considered “at-risk.” While the law intends to allocate 11.5% more funding to low-income students than students with no additional needs, they actually receive about 9% or less.
  • Fair funding: Gov. Whitmer and legislators should also commit to a system of fair funding for all students, including a weighted school funding formula to ensure that students with the greatest needs have the resources they need to succeed. Michigan leaders should start by looking at what’s working in top education states, like Massachusetts, where leaders came together in 2019 to pass The Student Opportunity Act and close opportunity and achievement gaps among their students. Massachusetts’ education funding overhaul includes a significant investment to address longstanding education inequities, including purposefully directing more funds to school districts that serve higher concentrations of lower-income students and English Learners. The landmark bill calls for investing up to two times as much money for low-income students in its highest-poverty school districts than those with students with no additional needs, helping to ensure the neediest students get the support and investment that they need and deserve.

This statement can be attributed to Jennifer Mrozowski, Executive Director of Communications, The Education Trust-Midwest.