Within the Senate Majority, these former teachers are taking on prominent leadership roles 

A few years ago, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) was teaching high school social studies in southwest Detroit. This legislative session, he led the historic education budget as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee in charge of school aid funding for Pre-K-12. 

For the first time in decades, this budget addressed various issues in education — such as teacher compensation, school investments, transportation and infrastructure — through the lens of students, teachers, staff and their families. 

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks and Assistant Majority Leader Darrin Camilleri at the signing of the education budget on Thursday, July 20, 2023.  

Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) currently leads both the Majority Caucus and the Senate Education Committee as Chair, after a decade of being the only K-12 educator on that committee. 

They and legislators like them truly understand the importance of investing in Michigan schools because they were educators too. Their push for change is a significant step forward in achieving the Majority Democratic Caucus’ vision to enhance Michigan’s education system. 

With a focus on providing equitable opportunities, Michigan Senate Democrats are determined now more than ever to create an even brighter future for Michigan youth. Having legislators with teaching backgrounds at the forefront only strengthens these efforts, and has assisted in the creation of student-focused resources such as those listed below. 

Growing Michigan Together Council

On Julu 13, Sen. Camilleri was appointed to the Growing Michigan Together Council by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Through lending his expertise cultivated in the classroom, he will help develop a comprehensive strategy to grow our education sector as well as Michigan’s population. 

“I have always called Michigan home and will be proud to raise my family here one day, but that’s not the case for too many people. Over the past few decades, we’ve been seeing a lot of young people leave our state and take their resources with them for various reasons,” said Sen. Camilleri, one of the youngest members of the Council at age 31. 

Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Camilleri, Rep. Phil Skaggs, and Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks discuss education funding and school operations in March with Kentwood students and educators. 

The Growing Michigan Together Council is an advisory body within the Labor and Economic Opportunity(LEO)or their designee from within the department. The Council is set up to include 28 council members with 21 voting members and seven non-voting members.  

For more information on the Growing Michigan Together Council, visit https://growingmichigan.org/ 

MiLEAP: The Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential 

On July 11, Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order to officially establish the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential — which will partner with the Growing Michigan Together Council, Michigan Department of Education and State Board of Education to encourage long-term planning efforts and strengthen all learning preschool to postsecondary. 

“The more eyes and the more resources we have on Pre-K to postsecondary education, the better,” said Sen. Polehanki, a former New Haven Community Schools educator. “I am excited about the creation of the MiLEAP department, which will ensure ‘Pre-K for All’ and ‘Sixty by 30’ are achieved.” 

More specifically, MiLEAP will align all available resources, data and funds around a single vision — building an education system from early learning through postsecondary to add capacity in early learning, accelerate progress towards the state’s Sixty by 30 higher education goal and prioritize community, regional and state partnerships. These goals will be pursued by MiLEAP’s Office of Early Childhood Education, Office of Higher Education and Office of Education Partnerships.  

For more information on MiLEAP, click here 

Additional Senator Quotes 

“As the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, I am thrilled with the establishment of the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential in Michigan. It is important that students across Michigan have equal access to education at the earliest age possible. Children should not be limited to education based on their age or ZIP code,” said Sen. Erika Geiss.  

“Since I first came to Lansing, I have been dedicated to investing and improving education in Michigan beyond K-12,” said Sen. Rosemary Bayer. “As Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations for the Michigan Department of Education, I have had the opportunity to work further in this field this year. During that time, I have seen the need to expand our view of education beyond something that starts with kindergarten and ends with high school. I look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer and MiLEAP to better expand education access in Michigan.” 

Read more from the Michigan Senate Democrats at SenateDems.com/press.