From school for 4 year olds, to homes for immigrants, Gov. Rick Snyder used his State of the State address Thursday night to advocate for issues tackled by Bridge Magazine.
In his annual address, Snyder told legislators he wanted $65 million more for free pre-K for the children of low- and moderate-income families. Snyder asked for and got $65 million for the program last year, on the heels of a Bridge report that chronicled funding problems in the Great Start Readiness Program.
That report found that 29,000 Michigan 4-year-olds who qualified for free, high-quality preschool weren’t in class because of lack of funding.
“That wasn’t right,” Snyder said last night. “We shouldn’t have a wait for preschool.
“I said last year, ‘Let’s do $65 million in investment,’ and it got tremendous support. We created 18,000 openings for those preschool kids. That’s fabulous.”
He asked the Legislature to come up with another $65 million to finish the job.
“We’re going to make it a no-wait state for preschool education in the state of Michigan,” Snyder declared.
Snyder told legislators that educator effectiveness was an important issue. Bridge exposed shortcomings in the state’s teacher preparation system, and explored Michigan’s efforts to build a new teacher evaluation system. The governor urged legislators to complete that task this term.
Snyder also urged school truancy reform, and expressed dismay at the state’s poor school truancy data, an issue Bridge explored in October. School truancy data is part of a school safety records that were so full of errors, the state pulled the data from public view until the reporting system could be fixed, Bridge reporting revealed.
“If we can’t know what the truancy rate is, how can we address it?” Snyder asked last night. “We’re not doing a good job on our data. Let’s try to get something done in 2014.”
Snyder also called for a pilot program to create year-round programs in some struggling schools to battle the loss of knowledge that can occur during the long summer break. Bridge wrote about an innovative year-round program in the Croswell-Lexington Community Schools in August.
The governor also pitched the creation of a “Michigan Office for New Americans,” to encourage immigrants to make the state their home – an effort that has been advocated by Center for Michigan founder Phil Power in Bridge.
“If someone has the opportunity to come to our country legally,” Snyder said, “let’s hold our arms open and say, ‘Come to Michigan, this is the place to be.’”