Achieving Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s aim of universal Pre-K, made in her State of the State address in January 2023, will require building upon its established programs and making some adjustments to the state’s education system.
A policy report compiled by education researchers at the University of Michigan, who examined evidence-based pathways to achieve that important goal, notes that Michigan is already a national leader in providing state-funded Pre-K to children from families with low incomes and those with other qualifying factors. Yet they warn that too many families are shut out of high-quality Pre-K due to costs and limited supply. In Michigan, 40 percent of 4-year-olds do not attend any kind of formal Pre-K program.
Christina Weiland, faculty co-director of U-M’s Education Policy Initiative (EPI) at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and an associate professor in the Marsal Family School of Education, led the team in writing, “holding the line on quality is essential if Pre-K investments are to close early opportunity gaps. Access without high quality is not true access.”
“We know that it will take time to achieve high-quality universal Pre-K for all 4-year-olds in Michigan. We applaud the Governor’s goal and efforts, and hope that our evidence can help in the policy-making process,” Weiland added.
Weiland and her co-authors – Ajay Chaudry (NYU), EPI alum Anna Shapiro (RAND), and EPI’s Jordan Berne, Katie Hyland (Ford School MPP ‘24), Nicole Hamp (Ford School MPA ‘23), and Annie Taylor – set out specific findings for the state of Michigan as it sets its implementation policies.
The full brief can be seen here.