Whitmer creates new department with focus on education potential and outcomes

A new department focusing on education attainment and higher ed has been created by the Michigan governor, placing more emphasis on a combination of child care and pre-k enrollment, after-school programming, and access to learning opportunities after students graduate high school.

The Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential or MiLEAP will work in conjunction with the education department and the state board of education but focus on outcomes of students.

The new department is part of a shift in how the state is approaching education. "for too long, we have thought of education as K-12, but we know that's not good enough," said Whitmer in a statement. 

"I’m establishing MiLEAP today because we need to get every kid started early, in pre-K, so they succeed in kindergarten, have paths after graduation to get higher education tuition-free, and forge strong partnerships with our employers so they can get a good-paying, high-skill, and in-demand job."

The announcement follows several reports revealing several long term issues facing Michigan, including a persistent loss in population and trouble attracting talent to the state. The news release for MiLEAP said it would also work with the state's new Growing Michigan Together Council to "strengthen preschool and postsecondary learning."

The chair of a subcommittee on higher education applauded the new department.

"Through MiLEAP, we will be able to better attract, educate, and retain the skilled workforce needed for Michigan to lead throughout this century and beyond," said Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills).

MiLEAP will have three offices:

  1. Office of Early Childhood Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that all young children meet their developmental milestones and enter kindergarten with the tools and ability to succeed in school. Oversee programs and policies statewide related to early learning and care, family engagement and education, pre-K, and child care. 
  2. Office of Higher Education: lead statewide efforts to ensure that every Michigander has the skill certificate or degree they need to prosper, and help employers hire the talent they need to succeed. The Office will lead administration of state student financial aid to lower the cost of college and assist prospective students in making decisions about postsecondary education. Also work to increase college enrollment, graduation, and attainment rates. 
  3. Office of Education Partnerships: lead statewide efforts to build and sustain partnerships that enhance educational opportunities and outcomes throughout the state from preschool through postsecondary education. Broaden perspectives represented in decision-making, including by providing staffing and support to commissions appointed by the Governor. Expand access to programs that extend learning beyond the classroom (before school, after school, summer programming, employer-partnerships).