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Safer Schools, Dignity for Children, and Training for Educators and Local Boards
March 17, 2023
LANSING – The State Board of Education this week adopted language to urge the Michigan legislature to promote safer school environments, protect a child’s dignity and promote the training and mentoring of educators and local board members.
In the wake of mass shootings at Oxford High School in November 2021 and at Michigan State University in February 2023, the board adopted a resolution to strongly urge the legislature pass Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s budget recommendations for additional funding for children’s mental health and school safety and pass safer gun laws which do not promote the hardening of schools, and which include the aforementioned commonsense gun measures on which Michiganders largely agree to make students and staff safer in Michigan schools.
In that resolution, the board extended its appreciation to the state legislature for holding hearings on commonsense gun safety legislation and absorbing the heartbreaking testimony from families and young people whose lives have been devastated by the use of firearms.
"We want to show our support for the commonsense gun safety laws currently being considered in the Michigan legislature,” said State Board of Education member Dr. Judy Pritchett. “We are grateful to the governor and the legislature for their recognition of the importance of this legislation and want to ensure that schools in Michigan have safe learning environments for all students."
The board also adopted a resolution supporting the passage of Senate Bill 90, a bill introduced by state Senator Sarah Anthony known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. If made law, this bill would add language to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists as traits historically associated with race.
“Michigan must continue supporting our students' success and ensuring they are empowered to learn freely without fear of discrimination or bias because of who they are or how they wear their hair — regardless of race, creed, or identity,” said State Board of Education President Dr. Pamela Pugh. “Passing this bill is a step in the right direction, so our public schools can continue serving every student with dignity.”
There are 20 states that have passed the CROWN Act to provide legal protections against race-based hair discrimination in schools and workplaces.
A statement that supports the mandatory and funded mentoring of new teachers, new principals, and new local superintendents, and the mandatory and funded training of new school board and local library board members was also adopted by the state board of education.
“The State Board believes that the work done across the state by school boards and library boards is an important and valuable form of public service and deserves to be supported by mandated and funded training,” said State Board of Education member Dr. Mitchell Robinson. “We look forward to seeing our colleagues on these boards continue in their service to these institutions prepared with even more knowledge and strategies.”
State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said, “These resolutions and statement, along with Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan, reflect the values of our State Board of Education and the need for children to be and feel safe; to feel that they belong; and to feel supported by educators and policymakers who themselves are mentored and trained.”