Statement by The Education Trust-Midwest on Gov. Whitmer’s 2024 State of the State Address
This statement can be attributed to Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.
“We applaud Gov. Whitmer’s focus in her 2024 State of the State Address today on investing in education by urging legislators to greatly expand opportunities for students to pursue higher education and by advancing her Sixty by 30 goal to increase college attainment in Michigan.
“Gov. Whitmer’s bold vision – to make community college tuition free for all Michigan high school students – has the potential to attract and retain newcomers to the Great Lakes State. Though it will take time to fund such a grand vision, it’s important to set strategic goals for the state to work toward over time.
“We also applaud Gov. Whitmer’s commitment through her Growing Michigan Together Council to hear from stakeholders and experts like The Education Trust-Midwest and our partners in the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity who offered ways to systemically improve education, particularly for students who are underserved.
“Educational recovery is critical. The most recent data shows that Michigan’s students are still behind pre-pandemic outcomes, leaving wide opportunity gaps for Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds. At the same time, school districts face a looming funding cliff as federal pandemic aid runs out and the deadline to spend that money nears.
“And while our state made great strides last year with the passage of the historic Opportunity Index, which for the first time accounts for the concentration of poverty in school districts, it is far from enough to close the tragic opportunity gaps for our students.
“That’s why it makes great sense to enact key equity-centered recommendations by the Council that will be necessary to eliminate those gaps. Those include full funding of the Opportunity Index, as well as far greater funding to support the needs of English Learners and full funding for the needs of students with disabilities, which were championed by Ed Trust-Midwest and our partners in the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity coalition.
“For full educational recovery, Michigan should also follow the country’s top performing education states such as Massachusetts’ notable efforts to invest at levels that close opportunity gaps for students who have additional needs.
“New investment should be paired with greater transparency and accountability for spending and student outcomes; access to rigorous coursework for all students; and deeper work on educator recruitment, retention and support.
“We applaud the Governor’s leadership and for her ongoing focus on improving education in Michigan, especially for students who are the most underserved, and we look forward to working with her and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle in partnership to ensure all students have the opportunity to catch up and accelerate their learning.”