During her State of the State speech Jan. 25, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed several proposals, including the MI Kids Back on Track Tutoring Plan and her goal to offer free preschool to 4-year-old children.

During her State of the State speech Jan. 25, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed several proposals, including the MI Kids Back on Track Tutoring Plan and her goal to offer free preschool to 4-year-old children.

Photo provided by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office

Governor addresses tutoring, preschool in State of the State

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published February 8, 2023


LANSING — During her State of the State address Jan. 25, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed several issues, including education.

While speaking at the State Capitol building, the governor touched on the MI Kids Back on Track Tutoring Plan she unveiled last spring and also her quest for schools statewide to offer free preschool to 4-year-old students.

According to the governor’s speech, data shows that children who attend preschool are more likely to graduate, earn a certificate or degree, and get a good-paying job.

“Let’s expand our bipartisan preschool effort — the Great Start Readiness Program — so every 4-year-old in Michigan can access a free, public preschool education by the end of my second term,” Whitmer said. “This investment will ensure children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and saves their families upwards of $10,000 a year. It helps parents, especially moms, go back to work. And it will launch hundreds more preschool classrooms across Michigan, supporting thousands of jobs.”

The state of Michigan currently offers free preschool for 4-year-old children whose families qualify for the Great Start Readiness Program. The state-funded program accepts children based on their family income. The governor wants to expand the program for all families in Michigan.

“It puts all the students on a level playing field when they come into kindergarten,” Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois said. “The challenge for a teacher is dealing with two different levels of preparedness.”

The free preschool would not be mandatory and not every day. Livernois also realizes that some parents might not feel their children are ready for preschool.

“The mechanics of it are still being worked out,” Livernois said. “I believe the governor’s program is to provide it for those who want it.”

MI Kids Back on Track is a plan to expand tutoring and other learning support across the state for students at all grade levels. According to the governor’s office, the proposal would invest $280 million of Michigan’s $3 billion in additional revenue to offer tutoring and other forms of personalized instruction before, after or during school.

“In a tutoring setting, students get help from a caring, qualified adult who is focused on their specific learning challenges. I am calling on my fellow Michiganders who want to see our kids succeed to join the effort to get our kids back on track,” Whitmer said.

Back on Track would provide extra personalized instruction, including tutoring, to help students get caught up with their studies after losing so much academic time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It can allow a tutor to work with the student on a one-on-one basis with any learning need they have,” Livernois said. “The goal is to get every child what they need to meet their academic goals and help kids to specify learning challenges. Getting that individual attention is much more refined and powerful in addressing the students’ needs.”

Livernois added the objective is to get MI Kids Back on Track operational by spring break of this year. The Warren Consolidated Schools spring break is scheduled for April 3-7.

District 11 state Sen. Veronica Klinefelt, D-Eastpointe, is in favor of both programs.

“I’m a huge advocate of investing in this area,” Klinefelt said, adding that staying on top of education will give students a brighter future and more opportunities. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Senate to produce legislation that supports the plans Governor Whitmer has laid out.”

During her remarks, the governor didn’t specify how the free preschool will be funded.

“How it flows from the budget and what mechanisms are used will be much clearer when (the governor) drops her budget Feb. 8,” Klinefelt said. “I do not see this as being an issue for the taxpayers. Down the road it will save the taxpayers money if our kids have graduated and are ready and prepared to go to work.”