On the second day of school, the second graders at Meadowlawn Elementary School met the person their teacher called the “boss of the state,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who spoke to them about using courage and perseverance to do the job.
“Sometimes that can be a very overwhelming job,” Whitmer, the state’s 49th governor, told students in teacher Julie Brill’s class, after explaining that she was responsible for making sure people have good schools, clean water and decent roads. “You feel like there is so much to do, there is a lot of pressure and you don’t have enough time to do it all.”
She said she had to move beyond criticism when deciding to run for governor and ignore naysayers. “There were people who said, ‘We’re not ready for another governor girl,” said Whitmer, Michigan’s second female governor, after Governor Jennifer Granholm. “It kind of hurt my feelings.”
“I decided instead of listening to the people who weren’t supportive… I was going to listen to the people who said, ‘Yes, you can do that. “”
Whitmer told the students that the hardest part of his job is facing adversity.
“The work we have to do is far more important than anything else,” she said. “I have to make sure I have a passed budget that will pay for things like your school, and support your teacher and support your education. And it’s not yet done. It’s getting late. I think it’s hard to keep being optimistic and showing people that we have the capacity to do it. We have to be courageous and get the job done.
Whitmer said she rose through the ranks to become governor after growing up in Grand Rapids, graduating from Forest Hills Central High School and attending Michigan State University. She then worked as a lawyer and was a state representative and state senator. She is the mother of two teenage daughters.
“Even on the Governor’s tough days when I might need an extra cup of coffee, there’s nothing quite like not showing up for work for me,” she said. “I always have to show up for work, just like you have to show up ready to learn. “
About this budget …
After speaking to students, Whitmer told media that the current standoff in finalizing a state budget is putting unfair pressure on schools.
Lawmakers are still negotiating the $ 60 billion budget, bickering over funding for roads and schools. Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent gas hike to generate $ 2.5 billion in annual transportation revenue has not been well received by Republicans. Its budget also proposes an increase from $ 120 to $ 180 per student for funding schools, including a weighted formula in which students more expensive to educate, such as special education students, low-income students, and students. English speaking, receive higher rates. The current budget expires on October 1.
“I always need to show up for work, just like you need to show up ready to learn. “ – Governor Gretchen Whitmer
School districts, which had to meet a June 30 deadline to finalize their budgets, operate on the estimated number of foundation grants per student.
“They make decisions; they start the class, based on certain assumptions about what the legislature can and cannot put on my desk and what I can and cannot sign, ”Whitmer said. “It’s a terrible way to do business. This is one of the obvious problems with the legislature taking a summer break without signing a budget.
“This is the pressure that we put on every school district in the state of Michigan,” she added.
Kentwood teachers told Whitmer they would like to have the technological resources to work with English learners, as well as more counselors.
“We go into schools and we have a wide variety of children with a wide variety of backgrounds, and we need a lot of different programs that need financial support in order to help us better meet the needs of our people. students, ”Brill said. .
Brill also wants lawmakers to know that standardized testing shouldn’t be the only measure of success. “This is not the only determining factor for a child, and it is very frustrating as a teacher when a child is reduced to a test result that is just a snapshot in time. … There are so many things that we don’t know what they’re happening with on a daily basis.
Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff and the students said they were delighted to welcome the governor.
“It’s always nice when our elected senior official can come to our schools, show his support for the schools and meet our children,” Zoerhoff said.
Second-grader Daniya Harris said she had learned that being a governor was important work. “It’s difficult to be a governor. I think she helps children to believe in themselves.