UPDATE 8/28/2023 7:05 p.m.
State Attorney General Dana Nessel has responded to a request from the state superintendent on whether Governor Gretchen Whitmer executive order to create the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Protentional, or MiLEAP, is constitutional.
Nessel said she can’t rule on anything yet because it is still too early in the process.
The MiLEAP program was created last month and goes into effect this December. The Education Department is concerned over possible overlap between their department and MiLEAP.
Nessel said the board acknowledges those concerns, and at the moment there is only potential for overlap in the future.
The president of the State Board of Education responded and said, “I believe that the actions and possible encroachment of the new department will be closely monitored. The state board will not stand by and watch its authority be threatened or stripped away at the expense of our children’s future.”
7/25/2023 10:45 a.m.
With the stroke of a pen, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has created a department in the state government, one focused on lifelong education.
It’s called the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential, or MiLEAP.
It will partner with the existing Department of Education but expand further, covering early childhood learning and post secondary learning.
“The governor has really focused on helping Michiganders advance through employment,” said Lisa Schut, regional director of policy and resource management for Northwest Michigan Works.
Since her first term, Governor Whitmer has made a point to stress post secondary and college education.
“Now, more than ever, we need to invest in our workforce,” said Whitmer in a February 2021 press conference. “Because to succeed, Michigan must be a state with successful people.”
And has worked to get kids into school even earlier.
“That is the goal, to ensure that every young child has an opportunity at an early childhood education,” said Whitmer at a June 2021 press conference. “That’s our ultimate goal and that’s where we’re moving, in that direction.”
That push for earlier education and later learning has led to this new department. MiLEAP will be its own standalone department and transfer offices and programs like the Office of Sixty by 30, the Tri-Share Child Care Program and the state’s scholarship administration; those will come from other departments to this new entity.
MiLEAP will also create three new offices, the Office of Early Childhood Education, the Office of Higher Education and the Office of Education Partnerships. The idea of creating a more educated workforce that is more attractive to employers.
“Employers are very enthusiastic to see talent that is getting those skills and are qualified to meet the vacancies that they have posted,” said Schut. “To do the work that needs to be done.”
The new department was not included in the recently passed budget so supplemental funding will have to be allocated in the near future. It is also not supposed to step on the current Department of Education but partner with it to offer as many options as possible.
“We know that the higher level of education someone has is directly related to the earnings,” said Schut. “The real earnings and the potential earnings for an individual.”