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Whitmer budget would triple literacy coaches to help Michigan students read

Mar 13, 2019

Bridge Magazine March 5, 2019

"The number of literacy coaches working in Michigan schools would triple under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed budget, a change that could yield huge benefits for Michigan school children, school officials said.

Whitmer’s budget plan, unveiled Tuesday, proposes a $24 million increase in spending for literacy experts to work with classroom teachers to improve reading methods.

That money would increase the number of literacy coaches in the state from 93 to 279. Under the proposed budget, the state would pick up the full tab for those coaches, instead of the current system in which local districts pay half the cost.

Analysis: Whitmer's budget banks on Michigan GOP backing one historic tax hike

The proposal is just that - a proposal. What happens to the Democratic governor’s budget when it reaches Michigan’s Republican-controlled Legislature is yet to be seen.

But efforts to improve early literacy have been a bipartisan priority in recent years. Former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder began the literacy coach program. And both Whitmer and her Republican opponent in the gubernatorial campaign, Bill Schuette, pitched additional support for early reading efforts.

“This is great news,” said Naomi Norman, assistant superintendent of achievement and system support at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and a member of the Michigan PreK-12 Literacy Commission.

“It’s really valuable because it’s going to ensure every corner of the state has access to high-quality support for literacy.”

Early literacy is seen as a key to turning around Michigan’s flailing public schools. Only 44 percent of third-graders are reading at a proficient level. Next school year, third graders whose reading level is more than one grade behind state standards face the possibility of being held back a grade" Bridge Magizine