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Whitmer creates another education agency

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order establishing the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential, or MiLEAP.

MiLEAP is meant to improve education outcomes from preschool through postsecondary by establishing clear metrics, collaborating with cross-sector leaders at the local, regional, and state level, and developing a shared action plan.

“Every Michigander deserves a path to ‘make it in Michigan’ with strong, lifelong learning support,” Whitmer said in a statement. “For too long, we have thought of education as K-12, but we know that’s not good enough. I’m establishing MiLEAP today because we need to get every kid started early, in pre-K, so they succeed in kindergarten, have paths after graduation to get higher education tuition-free, and forge strong partnerships with our employers so they can get a good-paying, high-skill, and in-demand job.”

The Detroit News reported the story. The new agency is meant to help Michiganders receive an education, whether two years old or 22 years old.

This is at least the fourth new agency Whitmer has created since 2020, counting the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, the High-Speed Internet Office, and the Office of Rural Development.

The added agency follows as Whitmer increased The Michigan Department of Education’s funding by 54% in the 2024 budget, which totals a record $82 billion- a $26 billion spending increase compared to fiscal year 2017. It adds roughly 1,000 new government employees.

Whitmer is also trying to expand free kindergarten for all 4-year-olds and provide free lunches to schoolchildren via the budget.

It’s unclear how the agency will be funded since it’s missing from the 2024 budget.

MiLEAP has three goals: to add capacity in the early learning team, so every child is ready for kindergarten; to accelerate progress toward our Sixty by 30 goal, so everyone can earn a skill certificate or degree after high school, tuition-free; and to prioritize community, regional, and state partnerships that help our students succeed.

MiLEAP will be led by a director, appointed by the governor. The director will join the governor’s Cabinet. MiLEAP will be comprised of three offices:

Office of Early Childhood Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that all young children meet their developmental milestones and enter kindergarten with the tools to succeed. Oversee statewide programs and policies related to early learning and care, family engagement and education, pre-K, and child care.Office of Higher Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure every Michigander has the skill certificate or degree they need to prosper, and help employers hire the talent they need to succeed. The Office will lead administration of state student financial aid to lower the cost of college and assist prospective students in making decisions about postsecondary education. Also work to increase college enrollment, graduation, and attainment rates.Office of Education Partnerships: lead statewide efforts to build and sustain partnerships that enhance educational opportunities and outcomes throughout the state from preschool through postsecondary education. Broaden perspectives represented in decision-making, including by providing staffing and support to commissions appointed by the Governor. Expand access to programs that extend learning beyond the classroom.

As Michiganders are fleeing the state, Whitmer and Democrats holding a political trifecta for the first time in 40 years are scrambling to give residents a reason to stay.

A May report estimates another 270,000 residents will leave the state by 2050.

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