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Whitmer touts "a major step" in education

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) tours Beecher High School
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) tours Beecher High School.

“Enjoy your day, and you are dismissed,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said as she made the end of day announcements at Beecher High School on Tuesday.

Whitmer is spending part of this week visiting Michigan K-12 schools as the new school year begins.

On her stops at schools this week, the governor is touting her recently passed education budget.

Though the governor concedes more investment is needed, especially in historically underfunded school districts.

“This has been baked in for a long period of time,” Whitmer told reporters after a brief tour of the school, “And that’s why I think the historic investments that we’ve made are a major step in the right direction. But every child in Michigan should have access to a high-quality public education.”

Whitmer acknowledged school districts are still dealing with a teacher shortage, despite efforts to improve teachers’ salaries.

When state lawmakers return to work next week, they will be taking up many proposals to change education in Michigan. One proposal would put a new requirement in place in order to graduate from high school.

Last week, State Senator Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) submitted SB 463, which would make filing a federal student aid form a high school graduation requirement in Michigan.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, is a form to determine if prospective or current college students are eligible for federal student aid.

Chandra Madafferi is the president of the Michigan Education Association. She’s supportive of students filling out the form, but hesitates at supporting it as a graduation requirement.

“At this point I’m not ready to give an opinion on that,” said Madafferi. “What we want to do is give opportunity to our students.”

Governor Whitmer often encourages high school students to file a FAFSA form. She said getting more high school students to sign up is a goal.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.