Gov. Whitmer launching effort to undercut Michigan’s third-grade reading law

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Undercutting Michigan’s controversial third-grade reading law, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will unveil in her State of the State address Wednesday an initiative to help struggling readers avoid flunking and advance to fourth grade.

The administration will partner with several philanthropic foundations to help educate parents about the exemptions to retention available to third-graders, particularly in urban and low-income communities that are expected to bear the brunt of the state’s new retention policy.

The intent, according to Whitmer, is to lower the number of kids who flunk because they are struggling readers.

“That’s the goal,” Whitmer told Bridge Tuesday in an interview previewing her second State of the State address. “The law is ill-informed and could have incredibly harmful impacts on children. What we’re trying to do is empower parents so that they can make informed choices on behalf of their kids.”

Whitmer’s actions will likely be popular among education leaders, who in general oppose the law, but struck a sour note for one Michigan business leader and longtime proponent of K-12 reform.

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