As your state senator and a proud parent, there are few things more important to me than making sure Michigan’s children receive the best education possible. Getting a great start or having access to early college credit programs opens the doors of opportunity and sets our children up for future success. I am fighting every day to make sure we are prioritizing school funding so our children — and our state — will have a promising tomorrow.
In this newsletter, you will find important information about upcoming bills affecting education, financial aid programs offered through state and federal government, and some great tips on how to foster kids’ love of reading.
If there’s anything I can do to help you and your family, please let me know. There is no wrong reason to reach out to me and my office. If we cannot help you, we will direct you to the person and place that can provide any help you need along the way. You can contact me toll-free at (855) DIST003 (855-847-8003), by email at SenSSantana@michigan.senate.gov or through my website online at SenatorSantana.com.
I look forward to hearing from you! Working for you,
Sylvia A. Santana
Toll-free: (855) DIST003 or (855) 347-8003
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Education bills to watch
Largest Investment in K-12 Education in Michigan’s History
On Wednesday, June 30, the Senate passed a K-12 budget containing $17.1 billion — a combination of state and federal funds that will surely help our students and their districts who’ve struggled dearly through the pandemic. The Senate kept a per-pupil minimum foundation allowance of $8,700 passed by the House, bringing all districts to the same basic per pupil foundation grant for the first time in decades.
Our students and teachers have suffered for far too long under an unequitable funding formula. This legislation finally places the much-needed emphasis on funding education the way it always should have been. I look forward to continuing our work to once again make Michigan a top state in the nation for its dedicated dollars toward education.
Other bills to note include:
Senate Bill 102 would put an end to harmful “lunch shaming” policies and allows students to get a nutritional lunch even if the student doesn’t have an ability to pay.
Senate Bill 321 would allow the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to create professional development standards for teachers on recognizing and addressing the mental health needs of students.
Senate Bill 414 would require history classes to include African American history — otherwise known as American history — when teaching about colonial America or the founding of our great nation.
The “Santana Six”
HOW TO HELP — AND KEEP — YOUR CHILDREN READING
Our children’s success in school and in life depends on their reading. It’s on all of us to foster their love of books so that we can set them up for a lifetime of success in whatever they choose to pursue. Here’s how you can help a young reader:
Make Reading Part of Their Daily Routine
Find time in the daily schedule for children to read. It doesn’t matter whether it’s before bed, before they eat dessert, or after a meal. Sticking to a regular schedule will keep reading consistent, and it will naturally make reading a part of their daily habit that they can enjoy, instead of looking at it as a chore.
Be the Example
Our children learn from us. When they see us reading magazines, newspapers, or books, it shows them that reading is important. And, when they see that reading is important to their parents, it encourages them to read as well.
Listen to Your Child Read
Have your child read aloud to you and listen to them. If they struggle with pronouncing words, or if their reading is choppy and they make mistakes, have them read it again while you help them. This will improve their reading skills and show your children you care about their reading.
Talk to Your Children
When your child finishes a book, talk to them about it. Ask them what their favorite part was, who their favorite character was, and ask them about what happened in the story. It’s a great way to be involved in their reading, and it will enhance their reading comprehension.
Reading Should Be a Choice
It’s good for parents to make suggestions, but you should never force your child to read a certain book. There’s no quicker way to make them uninterested and unenthused about reading than by telling them what to read. So, when you go to a library or bookstore with your child, let them explore and pick out books that they like. It will keep them interested and, most importantly, keep them reading.
Find Reading Programs
Many libraries and schools offer reading programs during the summer that will keep your children in the habit of reading every day. They also have the benefit of having your children be around other children their own age who are usually reading the same book, and that will help your child to talk about what they are reading with their peers.
MI Student Aid
MI Student Aid is a public financial aid resource for college loans and grants. Last year, students in our district received $3.5 million in financial aid, grants, loans, and scholarships. If you’re going to be a senior in high school and want to attend college, check your eligibility, and apply to as many financial aid programs and scholarships are you can! There are never too many scholarships or grants to apply to. Every amount of money can help keep you in school — and keep you from acquiring large amounts of student debt when you graduate.
Below are some of the financial aid programs offered through our federal and state government:
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): FAFSA.gov MI Student Aid Student Portal: Michigan.gov/missg
In addition to the general MI Student Aid program, there are many grants and scholarships you can apply for directly through MI Student Aid’s website, including:
Tuition Incentive Program | Michigan Tuition Grant Children of Veterans Tuition Grant | Fostering Futures Scholarship Michigan Competitive Scholarship
Preparing for the Next Stage
Every stage of your children’s education is important and requires preparation. Below are a few tips for each stage that I hope will help you — and them — prepare and succeed in the coming academic year.
Read to your child
As parents, we are our child’s first educator. Spending time reading to, and with, your child is priceless. Reading a book with them also helps to build their language comprehension and makes learning to read easier.
When preparing for middle school, the number one mission is to be organized. Going from one teacher to several can be tricky but having a system in place that keeps school materials organized is the best place to start. Color coding, or even using a different folder and notebook for every class, will help keep homework organized too.
High school is a time to sharpen both academic and social skills. Take time to try new clubs, sports, or other activities so that you can learn about yourself. College will be far easier if you know how to relax, and balance school with outside activities.
Have a daily routine
Establish a schedule with your child, because when they go to school, there will be one there that they will need to follow. If they are used to a schedule at home, the transition will be much easier for them.
There is no right, or wrong, way to take notes. The key is making sure to understand them and being able to use them to complete homework assignments and to study for tests. Everyone has their own style of notes — whether using pictures, graphs or just writing everything down — but just double-check to make sure the information is recorded correctly.
Get smart about money
It is never too early to learn the value of a dollar and how to manage your money. Set up an account at a credit union or a bank and, when you do, ask a parent, guardian, or bank employee to teach you the basics of money management. This is a valuable skill that you will use for the rest of your life, and it is much easier to learn early on when the stakes are low.
Great Books to Read with Children
The Library of Michigan recently published a list of recommended books for kindergarteners through second graders. My staff and I sat down and read many of the books on this list, and our top picks for you are listed!
These books will push your children to learn new vocabulary and help with their pronunciation. I hope you have as much fun reading them with your children as we did!
And Then It’s Spring
A lovely story about a child and his dog planting a garden. Their anticipation builds after a long winter and they can’t wait to see that spring is finally on its way.
Bear has a Story to Tell
Philip C. Stead
This cute story is about a bear trying to tell his friends a story, while helping them get ready for winter. It’s a heartwarming tale about friendship and patience.
Dozens of Cousins
A lively book about a great family reunion. The funny stories and colorful pictures are wonderful!
It’s a bit of a tongue-twister at times, but this wonderful adventure about Sammy Sanders trying to uncover the truth about what is in the sewers is well worth the read.
Great Lakes Rhythm & Rhyme
This is a wonderful book full of poems and poetry about our Great Lakes. It covers everything — history, people, the lakes, lighthouses, cities, and more!