News Bite

Whitmer ties tutoring funds to school districts

After shutting down a tutoring scholarship that would have given funds to families, Whitmer relaunches it, but gives the money to school districts

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted Oct. 9 that because “our kids come first,” she has tripled the number of literacy coaches in Michigan schools. The coaches will help students “get ahead,” the governor claimed. 

Whitmer’s announcement comes after declines of more than 30% in student performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, when school buildings closed and students were offered only remote instruction. The same schools that shut their doors to children are now being rewarded with exclusive funds that Michigan’s legislature originally directed toward parents. 

A tutoring scholarship proposal by the Legislature last year, which would have allowed parents to decide where to send their children for tutoring, was vetoed by the governor, who likened the program to school vouchers. 

Whitmer also sparred with the legislature over its plan to require that schools receiving federal pandemic emergency funds provide a minimum of 20 hours of in-person instruction.

Michigan public school students suffered poor academic outcomes during the pandemic. English proficiency dropped by 32% and math proficiency declined by 36% between the 2018/19 school year and the 2020/21 school year, according to MI School Data

Michigan’s children lag far behind their peers in other states. Michigan ranks 38th nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent survey of academic outcomes, just three places above Arkansas and only five ahead of Mississippi.

The governor recommended in Jan. 2021 for schools to return to in-person learning. She did not require the districts to do so.

Detroit Federation of Teachers, a union that endorsed Whitmer for governor, went as far as to threaten an illegal strike if required to return to in-person learning.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.