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Marquette educator named to Michigan’s student recovery Council

According to the Governor’s Office, this order creates a student recovery council, which will provide guidance and recommendations to give Michigan students that tools and resources they need to get back on track.
 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Whitmer's office)
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Whitmer's office) (WLUC)
Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:47 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - A Marquette educator is one of several people selected for a new council aimed at addressing student and teacher struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic response. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2021-02 on Thursday. According to the Governor’s Office, this order creates a student recovery council, which will provide guidance and recommendations to give Michigan students that tools and resources they need to get back on track.

The board is made up of several Michigan residents with a diverse range of backgrounds related to public health, pediatrics, mental health, and school leadership. This includes Marquette resident Dr. Travis Smith, who is an elementary school principal in Marquette Area Public Schools. Dr. Smith is appointed to represent school leaders.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Michigan hard, and our students, families, teachers, and school staff have all felt the strain. Still, our educators have worked tirelessly to teach our children during this pandemic under the most stressful conditions, and for that our state is forever indebted to them for their service,” said Governor Whitmer. “It is important to remember that schools also provide other services that students need to succeed including reliable access to the internet, nutritious meals, and mental health supports. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in our education system, and we know more work is needed to address the significant impact this pandemic has had on our children. This Council will be integral to ensuring our students and educators are equipped with everything they need to thrive.”

According to the Governor’s Office, this executive order is one of many orders aimed at supporting students and faculty through the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, the governor launched the Return to School Advisory Council which developed framework to inform K-12 districts planning for the 2020-2021 school year. In January, the governor’s administration prioritized educators in Michigan’s vaccine distribution strategy.

“It is an honor to serve as the chairperson of the Student Recovery Advisory Council,” said Kevin Polston, chair of the Student Recovery Advisory Council. “Last summer, this collaborative group of engaged citizens developed the MI Safe School Roadmap, which was vital to supporting in-person learning.  We look forward to ‘fixing the road ahead’ for the state of Michigan through a safe, equitable, and high-performance educational system that provides access and opportunity for each child to reach their full potential.”

“While the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of face-to-face learning for our society, it also has spotlighted vast differences in the challenges that students, families, and communities face,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint and a philanthropic representative to the Advisory Council. “Instead of thinking of going back to school, I hope we can focus on moving education forward in Michigan and ensuring that educators have the resources they need to meet all students where they are.”

Housed within the Department of Technology Management and Budget, the council will be composed of 29 members from diverse backgrounds who are appointed by the governor. The Council is tasked with:

  • Developing and submitting recommendations to the governor, state superintendent, and state budget director regarding student recovery.
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for academic support for students who experienced learning loss due to COVID-19.
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for mental and physical health for students impacted by COVID-19.
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems to support high school students transitioning into postsecondary education.
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve out-of-school time supports, including, but not limited to, summer school, before and after school programs, and extended school years.
  • Assembling critical voices from the education and public health communities to assist in identifying key challenges students face due to the pandemic.
  • Providing other information or advice or take other actions as requested by the governor.
  • Reporting regularly to the governor on its activities and make recommendations on an ongoing basis.

Click here to view the order.

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