By Susan J. Demas, Michigan Advance
Members of the newly formed Michigan Parents’ Council were announced Monday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The advisory group was established by the Democratic governor to allow parents for the first time in Michigan history a more formal role in the education budget process. The council, which Whitmer’s office says represents parents from across Michigan and from a variety of educational needs, will convene a series of regional parent roundtables to gather input.
“Parents are their children’s first and most important teacher, and we need their input to help our kids thrive in school,” said Whitmer. “Today, I am proud to announce the members of the Michigan Parents’ Council who will represent the parent perspective and ensure that parents have an empowered seat at the table in Michigan. We need parents’ perspectives to help our kids learn in-person, tackle unfinished learning, and get on track for long-term success. The bipartisan education budget I just signed delivers record resources to our schools, and with the input of Michigan parents, we can help schools implement this historic funding.”
Citing a significant response from parents across Michigan, Whitmer announced 11 appointments instead of the original seven that had been planned:
- Blanca J. Astua, of Holland, a health promoter for Strangers No Longer.
- LaQuitta Brown, of Detroit, a certified nursing assistant at Boulevard Temple Care Center in Detroit and as a COVID-19 health screener for Great Lakes Wined and Spirits.
- Jennifer L. Figler, of Gwinn, an active volunteer in her community and a former breastfeeding peer helper.
- Cindy E. Gamboa, of Detroit, director of community organizing and advocacy for the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation.
- Sarah Kucher, of Birch Run, senior commodity buyer for ValuePoint Solutions.
- Yazeed Moore, of Grand Rapids, senior programs officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
- Bailey Nuss, of Traverse City, Northwest region impact director for the United Way of Northwest Michigan.
- Ranya Shbeib, of Bloomfield Hills, co-founder and board member of the Muslim Foster Care Association and a member of the Michigan Foster Care Review Board.
- Tracey Troy, of DeWitt, project manager for Dart Container Corporation and president of the Michigan PTA. The Governor has designated Ms. Troy to serve as the Chair of the Council.
- Rafael Turner, of Grand Blanc, manager of community affairs for Consumers Energy.
- Monique Zantop, of Jackson, co-founder of Birthbrite.
In addition to the 11 appointees on the Council, two parents will participate on behalf of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and Executive Office of the Governor: Stacy Ann Sipes, of Potterville, departmental specialist for MDE and the president of the Potterville Board of Education. Ms. Sipes will represent MDE as the designee of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Stephanie O’Dea is the K-12 education policy advisor for the Executive Office of the Governor. She will serve as the representative of the governor’s office and facilitate the operations of the council.
The first meeting of the Michigan Parents’ Council will be held virtually on Tuesday, followed by roundtables of parents and family members across Michigan to gather input that can be shared directly with the governor’s team and state superintendent.
It’s expected that the council will submit a report to the governor highlighting major themes from the roundtables and summarizing proposals for inclusion in her budget recommendation by Dec. 9.
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