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Gelineau: Michigan's education system needs to focus on individual students

head shot of Bill Gelineau
Bill Gelineau
Bill Gelineau's plan to increase the state's education budget hinges on the legalization of marijuana.

Bill Gelineau, Michigan’s Libertarian nominee for governor, says Michigan's education system needs to start focusing on the individual needs of students.

Michigan is currently ranked 35 out of 50 states when it comes to 4th grade students’ reading skills and other performance metrics. Only 44% of Michigan’s third graders passed the English Language Arts portion of the M-STEP standardized test this year.

Gelineau’s approach to fixing the state’s literacy issues centers around increasing school funds and guidance counselors. He wants to give teachers the resources to pay attention to students’ unique needs in the classroom.  

He’s also hoping to give parents more choices when it comes to their children’s education. He’s seen a lot of dissatisfaction among parents with how schools are treating their kids, and wants to make parents aware of all the options available to their students.

“Parents need to be empowered to find those options,” he told Stateside on Wednesday. “And so what I envision is trying to create the kind of paradigm where the resources are available to those who need them.”

Gelineau wants to add $750 million to the state’s education budget to pay for these additional resources. His plan to find the money hinges on the legalization of marijuana, which will be on Michigan ballots this November. If the measure is legalized, Gelineau hopes to retroactively release people who are currently in jail for pot possession and funnel the resulting extra funds into education.

”Being able to just cull that population back with reasonable resentencing and alternative sentencing guidelines, we could free up a lot of money so that our schools can have the resources they need,” Gelineau said.

Maya Goldman is a newsroom intern for Michigan Radio. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, where she studies anthropology and writing. During the school year, Maya also works as a senior news editor and podcast producer for The Michigan Daily.
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