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Educators See Possible Speedbumps in Governor Whitmer’s “Pre-K For All” Plan

During the State of the State address Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed universal preschool, free for all 4-year-olds in the state. The state would cover the costs of Pre-K, saving families money while getting kids in an educational setting sooner.

“We were fortunate because we had access, and we could afford preschool. Every parent and every child in Michigan deserve the same,” said Whitmer.

The superintendent of Forest Area Community Schools, Josh Rothwell, said he heard rumors about Whitmer’s plans to address early education in the State of the State Address before it happened.


“It’s great. The idea is wonderful to bring kids in around the state of Michigan as four-year-olds for free and not having to put that burden of paying to the parents is great,” said Rothwell.

He said he’s happy to have the governor looking at ways to expand Pre-K in the state. Rothwell agrees with Whitmer’s assessment that early education helps lay that educational foundation. Rothwell said they usually have a jump on kids that didn’t attend preschool.

“We have our preschool kids here. Then move into kindergarten and then we have other students obviously that have had no schooling. There is a significant, significant difference with the discipline in their daily routines and their academic development as well. So, in theory this is a wonderful thing,” said Rothwell.

What Rothwell struggles with is implementing that proposal.


“The thought of trying to find, number one, the space to open up another classroom, but number two is to find the staff. If you have to get a full-time qualified preschool teacher and a qualified assistant, it’s going to be pretty challenging in these times,” said Rothwell.

Pam Haley works at Joyful Hearts Early Learning Center in Cadillac. The center has 11 kids enrolled in their Pre-K program.

Haley said she also welcomes the idea of universal preschool for every four-year-old in Michigan. Haley said early education is vital to a child’s schooling but feels the governor needs to understand how hard it is to find the bodies needed to properly follow the mandates required for preschool.

“Licensee limits everyone to 14 with one teacher, and I think it’s up to 16 with two teachers. But we you know, most places around here, I know everybody in the daycare system now that as soon as a group or, you know, something are trying to hire and there are there’s no help,” said Haley.