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Christina Weiland speaks with the Detroit Free Press and Chalkbeat about Governor Whitmer’s proposed free pre-K for all

January 30, 2023

Weiland believes such a policy could play a role in addressing the industry’s pay and staffing issues.  

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The Detroit Free Press reports that in her 2023 State of the State address, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she was proposing free pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the state of Michigan. She noted that the measure should be cause for celebration, as it stands to save families an average of $10,000 a year.

Although some private childcare providers have expressed fear that such a measure would put them out of business, many experts say this is a step in the right direction.

“Hopefully, what this will help do is ease the burden on families and also help them to access the kind of high-quality care that they want,” said Christina Weiland, a professor in the University of Michigan schools of Education and Public Policy, and Co-director of the Education Policy Initiative.

Weiland went on to note that public investments such as the one Whitmer is proposing can address market failures, like being able to pay early educators a fair wage. However, Weiland says strong federal action would also be necessary to fully solve 0-5 early childhood education problems. “No state has managed to solve them all on its own,” she said.

Weiland also spoke with Chalkbeat, again citing the success of free pre-K programs in other states. She says an increase in funding could improve access to care and improve teacher pay at the same time. With enough funding, Michigan could pump more money into each classroom, supporting higher wages, while also paying to open new classrooms.

Despite the state’s teacher shortage, Weiland says “It’s a problem that’s highly solvable if you put the resources to it.” 

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Associate Professor, Marsal Family School of Education