GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WXMI) — Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist is the second-highest executive in the state of Michigan, under the governor. He's also a parent.
With twin fourth graders in public schools, Gilchrist says that he knows firsthand how important it is for parents to be involved in their children's education.
On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the Michigan Parent's Council, tasked with representing parents from various communities in Michigan and gathering input on educational needs through regional roundtables.
The governor also has kids who attended Michigan schools, Gilchrist said.
"We want our kids to be successful," Gilchrist said in an interview with FOX 17, WXYZ's Grand Rapids sister station. "And we think every parent wants that in Michigan."
Gilchrist described the newly formed council as an opportunity for parents to be involved in their children's education at the state level as the administration discusses budgets and policies.
"Parents are the first and most important teachers in their children's lives," said Gilchrist, who went on to say that the council aims to improve education policy and outcomes by collecting a diversity of perspectives.
Eleven members make up the council, and Gilchrist emphasized that the group is geographically and ethnically diverse and represents an array of experiences.
"We have parents from every corner of the state, we have parents who have children of different ages, we have parents who send their kids to private school, public school or homeschool their children," said Gilchrist, adding that, "All those perspectives will help make sure that we're making choices and setting priorities that are responsive to the needs of parents from all walks of life."
Over the next few weeks, the council will lead a series of roundtables across the state to listen to as many families and parents as possible. The first one happens on Thursday in a virtual session.
The council will compile the information gathered at these roundtables into a report sent directly to the governor, accompanied by proposals for inclusion in the governor's 2023 budget recommendation.
Gilchrist expects that some of the issues shared at these roundtables will relate to school safety and mental health, as well as equitable funding for rural school districts and districts combating persistent poverty.
"These are the things that parents have prioritized and are talking about, and I expect this council to dive into those issues and others," Gilchrist said.