BOARD AND GOVERNANCE
As the traditional school year comes to a close and summer vacations are eagerly awaited, Michigan legislators will also be on a summer break. This doesn’t mean work in Lansing won’t be done or top issues ignored, but it does mean that constituents will have a greater opportunity to meet with their elected officials to discuss matters important to them.
Because of current term limits, legislators often do not have the opportunity to become knowledgeable on all issues. It’s imperative that we, as educators, take time to inform House and Senate members about issues that impact education. We must also have dialogue that is respectful and provide information that is rooted in fact, not emotion.
Here are some guidelines that can help you have a productive meeting with your legislator:
New or proposed legislation shouldn’t be the sole reason for contacting your legislator. Get to know them, what they stand for and against, and begin to build a relationship. While you may not always share the same viewpoint, you can begin to build the foundation for civil discourse.
Yours in Literacy,
Grace B. Velchansky, PhD
MRA Legislative Chair
Recently, the Michigan Reading Association created the Advocacy Award to recognize a current sitting legislator (state or federal), or someone who advocates for Michigan children or adults to legislators, in the area of literacy. While advocacy is not often recognized, MRA understands that it is critical to be a voice at multiple levels to ensure that students across Michigan benefit from sound literacy instruction. The recipient of the 2017 MRA Advocacy Award has been a tireless advocate for improving education for the students of Michigan.
Representative Zemke has served the 55th house district since his election in 2012. In 2013, Representative Zemke was appointed to serve on the House Appropriations Committee which included being a member of the Department of Education subcommittee and the Democratic vice-chairman of the Joint Capital Outlay and Community Colleges subcommittee. He is the current Minority Vice-Chair for the House Committee on Education Reform and also serves on the Elections and Ethics and Financial Services committees.
Since his election to the House, Representative Zemke has fought for legislation to promote equitable school funding, effective educational services, and safe, high quality school environments conducive to providing an outstanding education for all Michigan students. As the lone dissenting committee vote against the Third Grade Reading Bill, Rep. Zemke understood that students from disadvantaged backgrounds may not have a parent or guardian to apply for an exemption from being retained. On March 2 of this year, Representative Zemke co-sponsored House Joint Resolution H which calls to amend the state constitution recognizing education and access to literacy as fundamental human rights.
In his address to the Women’s League of Voters this past October, Rep. Zemke explained that he went to Lansing nearly four years ago, with a mission to improve Michigan's educational system, among other things. It is with great pleasure that the Michigan Reading Association honors Rep. Adam Zemke as the recipient of the 2017 Advocacy Award.
Elimination of Current State Standards Legislation Introduced on 2.9.17
Improving Education in Michigan
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Awards and Recognition
Detroit Public Schools Community District
Read the 1984 Michigan Reading Association Position Paper "Reading Redefined"
As a worldwide advocate for excellence in literacy instruction, the International Literacy Association actively participates in advancing thought leadership for the literacy profession and shaping sound public policy on education.