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Whitmer launches new state education agency, MiLEAP

Backs of schoolkids with colorful rucksacks moving in the street
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Backs of schoolkids with colorful rucksacks moving in the street

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the official launch of the new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP) on Friday.

MiLEAP will take over certain roles from the Michigan Department of Education, and some other state agencies. The state says those roles range from promoting early childhood and post-secondary programs, to fostering partnerships with schools and communities.

Robert McCann heads the K-12 Alliance of Michigan. He said many educators were skeptical when Whitmer first established the department via executive order in July, because it seemed like additional levels of state bureaucracy.

“So when we hear the announcement of another state department being created, the immediate concern that comes to mind is, is this going to be even more bureaucracy? Is this going to be duplicative bureaucracy that now we're reporting the same information to two different agencies?” McCann said.

McCann said that for now, it appears “we’ll be learning in real time” exactly how MiLEAP will function. But he’s hopeful it will focus on streamlining bureaucracy, and collaborating with district leaders and administrators instead.

“How can the state more helpful? How can the state be more responsive to the needs of our schools? Then that would be a massive improvement,” he said.

Whitmer’s former senior education advisor, Michelle Richard, will be the department’s first acting director, the Governor’s office announced in a statement on Friday.

“I am excited to get started with the talented team at MiLEAP to continue delivering for kids and families across Michigan,” Richard said. “Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, we’ve made child care easier to find, expanded access to free pre-K, lowered the cost of college, and helped thousands of Michiganders earn a skill certificate or college degree. But we know there’s so much more to do. As a Michigander and a mom, I am excited to work with partners inside and outside of state government to build on this momentum and make Michigan the best place to raise a family. Let’s get to work!”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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