Is Gov. Whitmer’s New Education Department the Best Way to Improve our Schools?

Both the West Michigan Policy Forum and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agree that fundamental reforms need to be made when it comes to our state’s educational system. All of our kids deserve the best chance at success in life, and that means providing students with a first-class K-12 and post-secondary school system.

Last month, the governor created the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Achievement, and Potential – MiLEAP, for short. Established via executive order, the department is charged with improving outcomes from preschool through post-secondary education. To do so, it will create “clear metrics, collaborating with cross-sector leaders at the local, regional, and state level, and developing a shared action plan.”

By creating this department, the governor is attempting to bypass the state school board – a governing body that oversees Michigan’s existing education department. While this may be a laudable goal given the state school board’s inability to improve our schools, the governor unfortunately has missed several opportunities this year to help make our schools more accountable to parents, students, and taxpayers.

In recent months, Gov. Whitmer repealed the state’s A-F scorecard for public schools, ending a proven policy that empowered parents that improved accountability and transparency. She also ended the state’s third-grade reading law, which gave struggling at-risk students the tools they need to succeed. We should concentrate on passing laws that make our schools better, not creating new departments that use more taxpayer resources while our students and schools continue to struggle.

Improving Michigan’s schools is one of the West Michigan Policy Forum’s top three priorities. It’s an essential part of making Michigan a top-10 state. Some believe this new education department just adds another layer of bureaucracy to a system that frankly already has its fair share of bureaucratic plans, programs, and processes.

Please contact Gov. Whitmer and tell her: MiLEAP needs to put students and parents first – and it should never serve special interests. Our children and grandchildren deserve a world-class education. And so do their parents.