Regulatory policy

Whitmer touts education policy she rejected last year – Michigan Capitol Confidential

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Student catch-up initiative similar to the vetoed Republican 2021 plan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer appears to have changed her mind on a plan to alleviate COVID-related learning loss among K-12 students, but with one significant restriction.

Whitmer had vetoed, in July 2021, a bill produced by legislative Republicans to channel $155 million from the state’s $6 billion federal COVID-19 relief dollars to scholarships for reading. The funds would have helped elementary students who are falling behind due to school closures during the pandemic.

The governor tweeted on September 8, however, “Our children always come first. To help get them back on track, I offered to offer tutors to Michigan’s 1.4 million college students. Let’s do it. Whitmer was referring to her own student recovery proposal, called the MI Kids Back on Track Tutoring Plan, released May 23.

Whitmer’s clawback proposal is similar to the Republican plan she vetoed, which would have provided parents with $1,000 grants for elementary school students with low reading test scores. Parents would have had the autonomy to choose which tutoring services were best for their students. They could have used the money for tutoring, after-school programs, books, or educational materials.

Whitmer did not explain his veto, and legislative Democrats did not join in an effort to overturn it. Since then, evidence has mounted that COVID lockdowns are hurting student performance. The National Assessment of Educational Progress recently reported that Michigan has slipped in math and reading.

Republicans reintroduced their proposal in February, this time with a plan to award $1,500 scholarships to students. But House Bill 5859 was defeated in a June vote at the Michigan House, with all Democrats and five Republicans voting against.

The governor, who faces a re-election vote in November, is now promoting his own plan to get students on the right track. The main difference between her plan and the Republican bill she vetoed is that her $280 million proposal does not give parents the leeway to choose what is best for their children.

The governor’s proposal places the responsibility for a student’s recovery on those same schools that closed during COVID-19 — many of which posted consistently low scores and poor academic performance even before the governor’s lockdown orders. . The proposal provides for tutoring for all subjects and all levels. An announcement about this from the Michigan Department of Education links to Volunteermichigan.org. He notes that tutoring would be available during and after the school day.

Whitmer did not respond to a request for comment.