Gwinn woman becomes member of first-ever Michigan Parents’ Council

On Monday, Gov. Whitmer announced members of the Michigan Parents’ Council
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Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 9:33 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Jennifer L. Figler, of Gwinn, is now a member of the first-ever Michigan Parents’ Council.

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the members of a new Michigan Parents’ Council. It’s an advisory group the governor established to more formally bring parents into the education budget process for the first time in state history.

The council will build on Governor Whitmer’s inclusion of the parent perspective in the most recent education budget she signed for the current 2022-2023 school year. The council represents parents from across Michigan, as well as parents of students with a variety of educational needs. The council will convene a series of regional parent roundtables to gather input.

“Parents are their children’s first and most important teacher, and we need their input to help our kids thrive in school,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today, I am proud to announce the members of the Michigan Parents’ Council who will represent the parent perspective and ensure that parents have an empowered seat at the table in Michigan. We need parents’ perspectives to help our kids learn in person, tackle unfinished learning, and get on track for long-term success. The bipartisan education budget I just signed delivers record resources to our schools, and with the input of Michigan parents, we can help schools implement this historic funding.”

Meaningful parent engagement directly impacts the educational success and well-being of all students in Michigan,” said Tracey Troy, president of the Michigan PTA.This council is the opportunity to empower Michigan parents and caregivers to work collaboratively with Governor Whitmer and [the] Michigan Department of Education to help students reach their full potential. Governor Whitmer thoughtfully structured the council to include diverse perspectives while recognizing the uniqueness of each child and the essential partners families are in education.”

Michigan Parents’ Council

Due to a significant response from parents all over Michigan, the governor is announcing 11 appointments to the Council, an increase from the original seven appointments. The Council includes appointees who represent various communities and reflect the wide range of experiences and perspectives from across the state. Appointees include parents of children in public, private, and home school learning environments, children in early childhood learning programs, and elementary, middle, and high school students. They also include parents of children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), children who speak English as a second language (ESL) and children who are in foster or kinship care.

Appointees

· Blanca J. Astua, of Holland, is a health promoter for Strangers No Longer.

· LaQuitta Brown, of Detroit, is a certified nursing assistant at Boulevard Temple Care Center in Detroit and as a COVID-19 health screener for Great Lakes Wined and Spirits.

· Jennifer L. Figler, of Gwinn, is an active volunteer in her community and a former breastfeeding peer helper.

· Cindy E. Gamboa, of Detroit, is the director of community organizing and advocacy for the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation.

· Sarah Kucher, of Birch Run, is a senior commodity buyer for ValuePoint Solutions.

· Yazeed Moore, of Grand Rapids, is a senior programs officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

· Bailey Nuss, of Traverse City, is the Northwest region impact director for the United Way of Northwest Michigan.

· Ranya Shbeib, of Bloomfield Hills, is a co-founder and board member of the Muslim Foster Care Association and a member of the Michigan Foster Care Review Board.

· Tracey Troy, of DeWitt, is a project manager for Dart Container Corporation and president of the Michigan PTA. The Governor has designated Ms. Troy to serve as the Chair of the Council.

· Rafael Turner, of Grand Blanc, is the manager of community affairs for Consumers Energy.

· Monique Zantop, of Jackson, is a co-founder of Birthbrite.

In addition to the 11 appointees on the Council, the following parents will participate on behalf of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and Executive Office of the Governor:

· Stacy Ann Sipes, of Potterville, is a departmental specialist for MDE and the president of the Potterville Board of Education. Ms. Sipes will represent MDE as the designee of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

· Stephanie O’Dea is the K-12 education policy advisor for the Executive Office of the Governor. She will serve as the representative of the governor’s office and facilitate the operations of the council.

Structure

Appointees will lead the council and convene regional roundtables with families across Michigan to bring in as many voices as possible. The council includes the governor’s K-12 policy advisor and a designated representative of the Superintendent of Public Instruction from the Michigan Department of Education.

Responsibilities

The first meeting of the Michigan Parents’ Council will be held virtually tomorrow, September 20.

In the following weeks, the council will convene roundtables of parents and family members across Michigan to strengthen partnerships between parents and schools. They will share input from the roundtables directly with the governor’s team and state superintendent. The council will submit a report to the governor highlighting major themes from the roundtables and summarizing proposals for inclusion in the governor’s 2023 budget recommendation by December 9, 2022.

The executive order establishing the council can be viewed here.

FY 2023 Education Budget Investments

The recently signed bipartisan education budget can be divided into six key sections: students, mental health, learning supports, student safety, school infrastructure, and teacher recruitment.

1) Students

For students, this is the highest state per-pupil funding in Michigan history – $9,150 for every kid, in every public school district. This gives additional support for the nearly 200,000 special education students and 710,000 at-risk students in Michigan. Expanding funding for career and technical education programs by 27%.

2) Mental Health

Dedicated mental health dollars for every student in every school. Increasing funding for teen centers, district mental health grants, and TRAILS, which offers training to school mental health professionals so they can better serve students with evidence-based services.

3) Teacher Recruitment

Funding MI Future Educator Fellowships, which pay up to $10,000 in tuition for 2,500 future Michigan educators a year, $9,600 stipends a semester for student teachers, and Grow-Your-Own programs that help districts put support staff on no-cost paths to become educators.

4) School Infrastructure

$250 million for school construction and renovations, helping them build or refurbish classrooms, labs, and libraries.

5) Learning Supports

An expansion of before and after-school programs to keep kids engaged. The budget offers every kid in Michigan tutoring to help catch up and get on track for long-term success, and resources for districts to develop learning pods for academically at-risk and economically disadvantaged students.

6) Student Safety

Dedicated school safety dollars for every student in every school. Funds to hire more on-campus school resources officers, create an intervention system for at-risk students that brings together law enforcement, schools, and mental health professionals, and establish a school safety commission.

Governor Whitmer’s Education Investments

For four years in a row, Governor Whitmer has worked across the aisle to make the largest education investments in Michigan history – without raising taxes. Since taking office, the governor has tripled the number of literacy coaches, closed the funding gap between schools, boosted state per-student investment to an all-time high, and helped districts hire thousands of teachers and on-campus mental health professionals.

The Whitmer-Gilchrist administration’s educational accomplishments can be found here.