LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 12, 2023) — Today, in a historic move, House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) have appointed four former educators to chair House and Senate education policy and budget committees:
On the policy side, Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) has been named the chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth) will chair of the House Education Committee. Sen. Polehanki is a former high school English teacher and two-time teacher of the year in her school district. Rep. Koleszar taught secondary social studies and English.
“It’s about time that the Education policy and K-12 Appropriations committees in the Michigan legislature were chaired by former classroom teachers. Each of us knows firsthand the challenges facing teachers, students, and their families, and we are uniquely prepared to tackle these challenges head-on,” said Sen. Polehanki. “The voices of educators have been ignored for too long when it comes to education policy and funding, and I am happy to say that those days are over. It’s a point of personal pride that I am part of this history-making group of former teachers-turned legislators, and I look forward to working closely with this talented group to make positive changes where they are needed.”
“As a teacher, I worked through an ever-changing and increasingly challenging landscape that the Legislature created for our public schools, and it ultimately led me to run for State Representative,” said Rep. Koleszar, “It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with this great responsibility and I look forward to working with our partners in education in every corner of this state and in every corner of every school to once again return Michigan to its position as a top 10 state for education and destination for educators.”
For Appropriations Subcommittees and vital school funding decisions, Sen. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) will chair the Senate Pre-K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) will chair the House K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. Sen. Camilleri is a former high school social studies teacher. Rep. Weiss is a former high school English and social studies teacher.
“When we’re making decisions about the future of Michigan’s education system, we want as many teachers in the room as possible,” said Sen. Camilleri. “This year, I’m thrilled at the announcement that all four chairs of education committees in the House and Senate are former teachers. Together, we have an incredible opportunity to create transformational change and rebalance the scales to invest in equitable solutions and funding for our state’s students, teachers, and schools.”
“I am thrilled that teachers in the House and the Senate are now leading the charge to improve education in Michigan,” said Rep. Weiss. “I cannot wait to get to work on making meaningful investments in education and crafting policy that prioritizes kids, respects teachers, and keeps partisan politics out of the classroom.”