Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Friday to establish the Michigan Parents’ Council.
The council’s responsibility is to meet with parents throughout the state, gather their input on a number of themes, topics, strategies and ideas; then act in an advisory role to the state superintendent and governor when relaying information from those discussions.
The Michigan Department of Education posted a document on its website that encourages people to watch a YouTube video about systemic racism, but it contains inaccurate information about finances in the state’s public school system.
The document was published in July 2020 by an entity called the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council two months after George Floyd was killed in Minnesota by a police officer, and while riots were taking place in many U.S. cities. The document promotes and links to a video titled “Systemic Racism Explained,” telling visitors it “is a good place to start.” But the video suggests that Michigan school districts which service low-income communities get less funding than others. The claim is not accurate; the reverse is true.
The video tells a story of two youths – an African-American child named Jamal and a white child named Kevin – and how their school districts are funded. The fictional students are said to live a few streets from each other.
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) denied Michigan’s request to waive the federal requirement to administer state summative assessments.
In late January, the Michigan Department of Education cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason not to test Michigan’s 1.5 million students. MDE requested waivers to federal requirements for state summative tests,and waivers of associated high-stakes accountability requirements. The accountability waivers were approved on March 26.
The coronavirus has thrown our entire society in disarray, and no less poignant an example exists than our K-12 public schools. The closure of schools across the country has stopped the normal learning process dead in its tracks. In a valiant attempt to continue, many districts have sought to leverage long distance learning. Unfortunately, weaknesses in the law, technological infrastructure, and teacher preparation, as well as inequities among students, are barriers to success. For example, the Michigan Department of Education has announced that under the law, virtual learning will not count for funding purposes as “seat time.”