Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has taken action to enhance access to education and support lifelong learning opportunities in the state. She recently issued an executive order to create a new agency called the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP), which will focus on providing educational resources to individuals of all ages.
The executive order, released on Wednesday, outlines the restructuring of the Michigan Department of Education to establish MiLEAP as a separate entity. The aim of this new department is to expand educational opportunities beyond the traditional K-12 system, ensuring that every individual has access to quality education from early childhood to adulthood.
Governor Whitmer expressed her motivation behind establishing MiLEAP, stating, “For too long, we have thought of education as K-12, but we know that’s not good enough. I’m establishing MiLEAP today because we need to get every kid started early, in pre-K, so they succeed in kindergarten, have paths after graduation to get higher education tuition-free, and forge strong partnerships with our employers so they can get a good-paying, high-skill, and in-demand job.”
The newly formed MiLEAP will collaborate with the Michigan Department of Education and the State Board of Education to strengthen the state’s educational system. By developing clear metrics and creating a shared action plan, MiLEAP aims to improve the quality of education from preschool to post-secondary levels. This collaborative effort will involve local, regional, and state leaders to ensure the success of these initiatives.
MiLEAP will have a significant impact on education across various age groups. For children as young as two, the department will coordinate resources to provide affordable and high-quality childcare. It will also ensure that all four-year-olds have access to free pre-K programs, setting them up for success in kindergarten. At age 12, MiLEAP will focus on implementing affordable and engaging before- and after-school programs tailored to students’ interests. Finally, at age 22, MiLEAP will create pathways for students to pursue affordable education in high-demand fields, offering on-campus support and facilitating career opportunities within Michigan.
The core mission of MiLEAP is to address existing disparities in educational opportunities among Michiganders. The governor’s office aims to ensure that access to education is not limited by social connections, financial status, or geographic location. To achieve this, MiLEAP will consist of three offices: the Office of Early Childhood Education, the Office of Higher Education, and the Office of Education Partnerships.
The Office of Early Childhood Education will focus on preparing children for kindergarten, overseeing early learning programs, and implementing policies statewide. The Office of Higher Education will concentrate on improving access to education, supporting employers, and increasing college success rates. The Office of Education Partnerships will work towards enhancing educational opportunities through partnerships and extended learning programs throughout the state.
While the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has endorsed the plan, some Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about the expansion of bureaucracy. GOP state Sen. Aric Nesbitt criticized Governor Whitmer, calling for a greater emphasis on student outcomes and education accountability.
MEA President-elect Chandra Madafferi, a long-time teacher, welcomed the governor’s announcement, emphasizing the importance of providing support for students and parents throughout their educational journey. She believes that MiLEAP will create stronger pathways to success for students from preschool through higher education, enabling them to realize their full potential.
Governor Whitmer’s executive order to establish MiLEAP demonstrates her commitment to ensuring accessible and quality education for all individuals in Michigan. By focusing on lifelong learning and bridging educational gaps, the state aims to build a brighter future and strengthen its educational system.