To ensure that our children have an opportunity to be competitive with their peers, I have spent the past four years looking at the way we educate our children, the mechanisms we use to fund that education and working to create a leaner, stronger system that provides a world-class education at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
Accomplishing these goals required making some hard choices. I have supported reform policies that focus on student achievement, administrative efficiency and spending transparency. I have also supported policies that increase the number of high school and college graduates and expand affordable post-high school educational opportunities for our children.
I supported investments in Early Childhood Education by adding $65 million more to early childhood education programs, the largest one year increase of any state. This allowed 16,000 more four-year olds to enroll in preschool.
Since 2011, a large portion of time as your state senator has been spent with school officials, educators and students. I have seen first-hand the educational opportunities and challenges that exist for students in Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties.
I secured legislative planning authorization approval to allow Muskegon Community College to begin the first phase of their new expansion project. I am a member of the Muskegon Community College Foundation Board as well as a member of the Baker College Entrepreneurial Advisory Board.
I authored legislation, now signed into law, which streamlined the State Promise Zone education scholarship program and specifically allows the Muskegon Promise Zone to expand their offerings. (PA 210 of 2013) This is another tool that will help create a better educated work force and can be used as important economic development vehicle to attract new residents.
I’ve participated on the Muskegon Heights Edgewood Elementary Task Force to create a safer and stable environment for students; Muskegon Opportunity Committee; and Muskegon Opportunity Advisory Committee – Business Engagement Subcommittee which supports the Local College Access Network.
I’ve toured the Grant Teen Health Center and Muskegon High School Teen Health Center and seen how children are receiving critical access to health care services.
Over the past three years, I’ve visited over 30 schools as part of March is Reading Month.
I’ve participated in Financial Literacy Month events at area schools; participated in a Farm to Pizza event w/ MSU Extension at an elementary school in Fruitport; coordinated the Hansen Handoff Recycling Awareness Competition for area schools; participated in various school assemblies (Be Nice; Drug Free Muskegon; Underage Drinking Presentation); and Michigan Works! Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG)
I have conducted a “technology tour” of school districts to learn how they’re using innovative technology within the classroom and the resources they’re using to enhance the learning environment to prepare students to compete in a global environment.
I’ve also had the fortune to visit the Muskegon County Career Tech Center and NCRESA Career Tech Center to see how they are exposing students to exciting programs and career offerings.
Muskegon County’s Early College Program is another shining beacon that is giving area students access to accelerated higher education opportunities.