Published in the Detroit News on Dec. 20, 2023
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Growing Michigan Together Council recently issued recommendations to revitalize the state’s stagnant population. While many of its unpopular proposals would raise taxes and grow the size of government, there’s one standout recommendation that deserves our immediate attention: the elimination of the partisan State Board of Education.
For years, I have championed this cause, recognizing the need for a fundamental shift in how we approach education in Michigan. In June, I introduced House Joint Resolution D, which would eliminate the State Board of Education and make the head of the Department of Education a direct appointment by the governor, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
The State Board of Education being elected in partisan elections between political parties has muddled its core purpose. Education should not be a political playing field; it should be a platform for nurturing the minds and futures of our youth. By eliminating this partisan nature, we can move toward an education system that is insulated from radical political ideologies, ensuring that parental input and engagement is encouraged, and that decisions are made in the best interest of students.
The State Board of Education, as it stands, has discouraged public input. Its meetings are shrouded by poor accessibility and a lack of meaningful engagement. To put it plainly, its partisan members operate like politicians. Such a setup impedes progress and stifles the voices of those who matter most: students, parents, and educators.
Michigan faces an urgent educational crisis, consistently ranking poorly when compared to other states, despite investing in education at historic levels year after year. This demands decisive action. The State Board of Education, unfortunately, has failed in its duty, becoming a symbol of dysfunction rather than progress.
HJR D presents an opportunity to break free from the status quo. It aligns with the bipartisan intent of the population commission, emphasizing that education should transcend political divides for the betterment of our state.
The path ahead is clear, but it requires collective will and a commitment to prioritizing our children’s future. Adopting my HJR D, which is currently awaiting consideration by the House Government Operations Committee, is the first step we need to take. If approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, this proposal will reach Michigan voters during the next statewide general election—a chance for every citizen to shape and improve the future of education in our state.
For too long, the State Board of Education has been weighed down under the mass of partisan politics, rendering it ineffective and disconnected from the urgent needs of our educational system. The recent report from the Growing Michigan Together Council underscores the necessity for a fundamental shift in how we approach education. We owe it to our children and the future of Michigan to dismantle the barriers obstructing progress. Let’s get this done.
Rep. Ann Bollin represents the Michigan’s 49th House District, which spans portions of Livingston and western Oakland counties.
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