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Midterm elections 2022: Education a major issue as Michiganders head to the polls

Education is a key issue as Michigan residents choose between an incumbent Democrat who boasts a record of increase school funding and a Republican challenger who wants parents to have more control over where, what and how children are taught.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon have very different points of view on school safety, private school choice, curriculum, Michigan’s third-grade reading retention law, and more.

Dixon, 45, from Norton Shores, is a political newcomer who left her family’s steel business to become a Conservative commentator. This is his first candidacy for public office.

Whitmer, 51, is a longtime politician who previously served as State Representative, State Senate Minority Leader and Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She briefly served as the Ingham County District Attorney.

Whoever is elected will shape the education of 1.4 million public school children over the next four years.

Yet the victor’s power over education will be limited. In Michigan, the top education official is chosen by an elected school board, not the governor. The governor can influence education through messaging and by negotiating school programs in or out of the state school aid budget.

“Education is very much on the minds of voters,” said Jenna Bednar, professor of political science and public policy at the University of Michigan. “I won’t say it trumps the economic issues, but I hear a lot of voices from voters, especially parents. As frustrated as they have been during the pandemic, they have also come to realize that it is very difficult work for teachers, and teachers are in a very difficult position.

Dixon and Whitmer also seem to be aware of this, as they campaigned on the need for more funding for schools and more individual tutors.

The election comes at a crucial time as the state recovers from a pandemic that has reduced learning opportunities for students, reduced test scores and increased the need for mental health services in schools.

Many other local, state and federal offices are on the ballot. Eight candidates are vying for two seats on the state board of education.

The Pthe clubs are open until 8 p.m..

Tracie Mauriello covers state education policy for Chalkbeat Detroit and Bridge Michigan. Contact her at [email protected]



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