Child care, federal funding and accountability are the education issues facing Whitmer and GOP leaders

By: | May 28, 2021

Michigan’s education system is approaching a turning point as COVID-19 case numbers drop and more students return to school. Billions in federal relief funds are on the way, and state leaders are turning their focus to helping students address the academic and emotional toll of an exceptionally difficult year.

Key questions for schools remain unanswered, however, amid political battles in Lansing. Most of the federal aid for K-12 schools and the state’s early childhood education system hasn’t been allocated. Educators are calling for teacher evaluations to be canceled this year, and some parents are insisting on a virtual-only learning option for the fall, but both of those changes would require a change in state law. And debate has broken out about whether Michigan’s “read or flunk” law for third graders should go into effect this year or next year, if at all.

Answers could be forthcoming, especially after an agreement between leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, set the stage for budget negotiations in the coming weeks. The shift came as Whitmer announced plans to lift public health orders related to the pandemic, which Republicans have sought to eliminate.

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