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Gov. Whitmer Launches Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential 

Abigail Nobel
Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 484
Topic starter  

Today's press release begs the question, "What does education have to do with healthcare?"

Quite a lot, actually.

Healthcare careers are in serious trouble with rising education costs, the bottom of the career ladder cut off, and the system chewing up professionals and spitting them out, contributing to the instructor shortage.

All of which is leveraged by expanding state spending and regulation. 

So, of course, what Michigan needs is another department in state government. Not freedom or limited government - no. Never that.

One is tempted to become snarky.

Gov. Whitmer Launches Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential 
New department focused on developing talent to fill in-demand jobs, early learning and higher education, improving long-term student outcomes, and growing economy 

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer officially launched operation of the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential, or MiLEAP. The new department, established by executive order in July, is tasked with improving outcomes from preschool through postsecondary so anyone can ‘make it in Michigan’ with a solid education and a path to a good-paying job. The new department will take over several early learning, higher education, and education partnership responsibilities from other state departments. Over 300 staff members will join MiLEAP, playing the same roles they did in their previous department. The Governor also announced Michelle Richard as MiLEAP’s acting director.

“Today, I am so excited to kick-off MiLEAP and look forward to how they will begin delivering on their mission to improve long-term education outcomes with a focus on early learning and higher education,” said Governor Whitmer. “Every Michigander deserves a path to ‘make it in Michigan’ with strong, lifelong learning support and a path to a good job, but for too long, we have thought of education as just K-12. We know that’s not good enough, which is why MiLEAP will tackle bold goals like expanding access to pre-K for all 4-year-olds, offering more affordable paths after graduation to get a higher education or skills training, and forging strong partnerships with our employers so they can get a good-paying, family-sustaining job. With Michelle Richard at the helm, I know that MiLEAP will take our learning ecosystem to the next level and help us all build a brighter future for Michigan.” 

“Every kid deserves a great start before they head to kindergarten, and every graduating senior needs a pathway to a good-paying job,” said Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City). “MiLEAP is good for our students, families, communities and economy.”

"Governor Whitmer's MiLEAP implementation and her administration's ongoing dedication to fostering opportunities for all students, irrespective of their ZIP code, age, or income level, fill us with enthusiasm," said Terrence Martin, President of AFT Michigan. "Education is a lifelong journey, and it is crucial that we offer the necessary support to guide students and parents at every stage. MiLEAP will play a vital role in establishing robust pathways to success for students, enabling them to achieve their utmost potential."

"We know how critical early childhood education is to the long-term prosperity and development of every person,” said Benjamin Mainka, Superintendent of Novi Community School District. I am so excited about the opportunity we have through MiLEAP to create efficiencies and coordination to get support and resources delivered to our staff and families quickly. The more we continue to move away from the silos that are often created in our systems and focus on strategic coordination, the more "red tape" we can remove and get the support that is needed."

“Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, and with bipartisan support, Michigan has witnessed a generational renaissance in its focus on and investment in boosting the state’s most vital economic metrics: educational attainment, college affordability, workforce talent, and business attraction and retention,” said Daniel J. Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “The state’s 15 public universities are eager to collaborate with MiLEAP and the Office of Higher Education housed within it to further build upon and execute an agenda that will ensure increased economic prosperity for all Michiganders.”

“Michigan’s community colleges stand ready to work alongside MiLEAP and the Office of Higher Education to grow opportunities for students to enroll, persist, and attain certificates or degrees that lead to good paying jobs right here in our state,” said Brandy Johnson, President of the Michigan Community College Association. “Together, we look forward to strengthening pathways for students of all ages to earn a post-secondary credential such as through dual enrollment, transfer pathways and Michigan Reconnect.”

“The brilliance of MiLEAP is that it’s chalked full of innovative strategies like PreK 4 All and Tri-Share, and focused on clear end games: kindergarten readiness, career preparation, connections to employers and Michigan jobs. It represents a roadmap to maximizing the state’s potential and accelerating change with all Michiganders in mind,” said Chana Edmond-Verley, CEO of Vibrant Futures. “It seems to me that Mi LEAP is a true ‘innovation engine’ for the state with clear end games cradle-to-career to maximize potential and accelerate change in the education and preparation space with shared prosperity for all in mind. This refresh represents the mindsets of top-tiers states.”

MiLEAP Kick-Off

Effective today, over 300 staff members from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), Education (MDE), and Treasury will be transferred to MiLEAP. The staff will continue in their same roles with the same pay and benefits.

Effective today, MiLEAP will take over administration and leadership of several programs from state departments within its purview. Constituents will not experience an interruption in service:

MiLEAP’s Office of Early Childhood Education:
Child care licensing from LARA
Tri-share from LEO
Office of Great Start from MDE
MiLEAP’s Office of Higher Education:
Office of Sixty by 30 from LEO
Scholarship administration from Treasury
MiLEAP’s Office of Education Partnerships
Out-of-school time from MDE
Governor’s Educator Advisory Council from MDE
PreK-12 Literacy Council from MDE
MiLEAP’s new website is now live at:

What does MiLEAP mean for Michiganders?

2-year-olds: MiLEAP will help families with young children access quality, affordable child care by coordinating resources for Michigan’s youngest learners and helping more Michiganders open child care programs. 
12-year-olds: MiLEAP will ensure public school students in Michigan have the community-support they need to reach their full potential, including before and after school programs that are affordable and connected to their interests—including career exploration.
22-year-olds: MiLEAP will create more paths for college students in Michigan to pursue an affordable education in an in-demand field. The department will connect students with financial aid and partner with colleges to strengthen the support they get on campus to graduate on-time and pursue a fulfilling career in Michigan. 
Employers: Employers value investments in education from preschool to postsecondary because they need workers who are prepared when they’re hired. Companies can also more easily retain talent when their employees know their children are receiving a good education in Michigan. MiLEAP will partner with employers, state departments, community colleges, and universities to respond to talent needs that require skill certificates and degrees.
Educators: At every level of learning, educators will continue to be valued and supported. Their perspectives will be included in boards and commissions—like the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council—and their work in the classroom will be supported by high quality programs outside of the classroom, including early learning and out-of-school time programs.
MiLEAP Goals & Structure

Add capacity in our early learning team, so every child is ready for kindergarten.  
Accelerate progress toward our Sixty by 30 goal, so everyone can earn a skill certificate or degree after high school, tuition-free.  
Prioritize community, regional, and state partnerships that help our students succeed.   
To focus on these three topline goals above, MiLEAP will be comprised of three offices: 

Office of Early Childhood Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that all young children meet their developmental milestones and enter kindergarten with the tools and ability to succeed in school. Oversee programs and policies statewide related to early learning and care, family engagement and education, pre-K, and child care.  
Office of Higher Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that every Michigander has the skill certificate or degree they need to prosper, and help employers hire the talent they need to succeed. The Office will lead administration of state student financial aid to lower the cost of college and assist prospective students in making decisions about postsecondary education. Also work to increase college enrollment, graduation, and attainment rates.  
Office of Education Partnerships: lead statewide efforts to build and sustain partnerships that enhance educational opportunities and outcomes throughout the state from preschool through postsecondary education. Broaden perspectives represented in decision-making, including by providing staffing and support to commissions appointed by the Governor. Expand access to programs that extend learning beyond the classroom (before school, after school, summer programming, employer-partnerships). 
All three Offices will collaborate with other State of Michigan departments and entities, as needed, to achieve their goals.

Acting Director Michelle Richard

Michelle will serve as MiLEAP’s acting director. She will start December 1, transitioning from her role as the Governor’s senior education advisor. In the executive office, she worked on successive bipartisan school aid budgets making record investments in students, staff, and schools, and supported the implementation and expansion of programs to lower the cost of higher education and skills training. Michelle brings years of experience to MiLEAP, including stints at the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity where she helped launch Sixty by 30 and Michigan Reconnect, Public Sector Consultants, and in the classroom as a kindergarten and 1st grade teacher.

A proud mom of 2 residing with her family in DeWitt, Michelle earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education at Saginaw Valley State University and a masters in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“I am excited to get started with the talented team at MiLEAP to continue delivering for kids and families across Michigan.” said Acting Director Michelle Richard. “Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, we’ve made child care easier to find, expanded access to free preK, lowered the cost of college, and helped thousands of Michiganders earn a skill certificate or college degree. But we know there’s so much more to do. As a Michigander and a mom, I am excited to work with partners inside and outside of state government to build on this momentum and make Michigan the best place to raise a family. Let’s get to work!”



The original Executive Order 2023-6 text is here.

Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
Posts: 8

Reducing red tape by creating another government bureaucracy.  Interesting strategy.


As far as employers needing prepared workers, whatever happened to on-the-job training?  Some jobs are best learned by experience and employers used to provide that training.

Abigail Nobel
Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 484
Topic starter  

@pattie I agree!

Clearly, the State of Michigan likes having its finger in every pie, and with Lansing afloat in COVID dollars, they have the slush fund to make that happen.

Case in point: the market distortion of COVID funds in education is now winding down. Will public schools ever actually face decreased demand, or do we just keep paying for underutilized services?

The article is behind paywall, but the lede captures the facts. Apologies for the ugly link.

End to COVID aid may lead to staff reductions  

DETROIT – As one-time COVID funds dry up, some schools may have to reduce staff, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Many Michigan schools used federal COVID aid to add employees and raise salaries and benefits. The hiring occurred even though statewide enrollment declined 5% since the 2018-19 school year, according to state data. Districts are concerned that “they can’t afford all the staff they just hired,” said Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.  

A recent study showed that teachers left the profession at a higher rate than usual during the pandemic, but some individuals looking for a teaching position may find that schools are not hiring, said Roza.

Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
Posts: 8

Yep...the Covid funds created the illusion of need by allowing schools to implement new programs they didn't have to pay for.  Now the funds are drying up and the schools have become addicted to these services, whether they really need them or not.  I expect it won't be long before some of these districts will be trying to get more out of taxpayers to maintain these services.



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