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President’s Youth Council reacts to State of The State Address

We support Detroit youth in understanding and exercising their power to create change in education systems and policies. On the approach of Michigan’s State of the State (SOTS) address just last week we invited our President’s Youth Council to get in on the conversation. We asked them to watch the SOTS closely and listen for key issues that they care about personally. Here’s what they had to say.

Expanding free public education to include pre-K and postsecondary is huge for Michigan families

Our youth council members overwhelmingly remarked on the governor naming education as a priority for the state, and seeing the education system as spanning from prekindergarten to postsecondary.

Ian Robinson stated that he was “intrigued by the fact that Governor Whitmer is advocating for improvements in education for students at all levels, from pre-K to college.”

Perriel Pace reflected, “as someone who has a lot of younger siblings, I think free preschool is very beneficial for my family.”

Rielly Rudolph noted, “lowering the cost barrier of obtaining higher education for Detroit communities where there is lack of resources and support will help lower the overall academic insecurities and self-doubt caused within families when college is not affordable to them.”

Ryan Mallory-Williams said, “by giving free community college tuition to high school students, this will take the burden off of the students so they can better concentrate on their future.”

Leaders should keep an eye on how policies impact young people

Khyiana Tate applauded the mention of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of dependent health insurance. “Young people being able to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 years old will help Michigan’s youth focus on education and self-discovery,” she said.

Eva Burch noted, “one thing that struck me was Michigan working to provide an equitable education for all children by educators who are well rounded and who have a passion for what they are doing. Free lunches for each student also stood out to me; this will save parents hundreds of dollars each year on groceries.”

“I love the fact that [Governor Whitmer] is not just thinking about current generations,” shared King Bethel. “She spoke about how to assist future generations, kindergarteners, to figure out what they desire to be and ways to prepare them for that.”

Youth council members want to hear about policies tailored for Detroit and Black communities

With so much change and investment happening in Michigan and in Detroit, youth council members said they watched the SOTS with a keen eye for how race plays into policy.

Some remarked they were proud to hear mention of investments in mental health but wondered how Black students in Detroit’s neighborhoods would be reached. King stated, “I do understand that she’s the governor of the state, however, I feel that Detroit, specifically the Black neighborhoods of the city, is struggling in terms of businesses that provide health to communities of color.”

Though the youth council members understand the need for statewide and regional strategies, they also called out the need for targeted, community-specific strategies. Kady Robinson-Larsosa said, “it is essential to recognize and prioritize the needs of Detroit’s citizens to address issues such as education, neighborhood development, and local businesses within the city itself.”

Learn more about our President’s Youth Council.

Watch the 2024 State of The State address and let us know in the comments below if you hear anything about education policy that excites or challenges you.

Tyler Parlor

Tyler Parlor is a storyteller and community builder who is dedicated to amplifying community voice and promoting belonging in civic engagement for America’s historically marginalized communities.

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  • Gary Bennett

    This platform is certainly needed as references and indicators, of these chosen youths’ awareness and concerns, that might evolve to produce normalization of effective consistent dedication, to build new usable and needed agency to ensure, sensitive and enriched conscious maintenance and growth of our present and future communities

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