Legislative and Policy News

Dear Members,

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:

  1. Legislators want to hear from their constituents. Some will meet at local establishments in a larger group setting while others prefer a one-on-one conversation. Every state representative and senator has a webpage (house.michigan.gov and senate.michigan.gov). If the webpage does not indicate local meeting dates or times, email your legislator to ask when they will be holding their next meet and greet. Also, don’t forget to register to receive their email updates.
  2. Be respectful of their time; you can’t address every issue in a short period. Let them know what you would like to discuss so they can be prepared to ask you questions and engage thoughtfully.
  3. Meet with the intent to provide helpful information they can use to become more knowledgeable about a specific topic. Find common ground and help dispel misconceptions and/or confusions.
  4. Share concrete examples or real-life stories from your school community that emphasize your point. This helps to humanize the topic and can highlight areas that may have not been previously considered.
  5. Create a short brochure or document that highlights salient points. Avoid using confusing graphs or statistics. Include websites or resources that are user-friendly and helpful. Remember, your legislator may be passing this information along to their aide or a committee member so summarizing your talking points is a benefit.
  6. Regardless of the outcome of your meeting, always follow-up with a short email or note thanking them for the opportunity to meet. They’re more likely to remember you and be responsive in future correspondence.

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

2017 Advocacy Award Recipient

Representative Adam Zemke

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

HB 4192

HB 4192 Fiscal Analysis

History of Content and Learning Standards in MRA

Improving Education in Michigan

Top 10 in 10 years 

Michigan PreK-12 Literacy Commission

ESSA: Michigan's Plan

The Education Trust

How Your Legislators Vote



Awards and Recognition

Advocacy Award Application

Detroit Public Schools Community District

Michigan Literacy Case Q&A Brief

Class Action Lawsuit on behalf of Detroit students

Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Gary B v Snyder Response to Motion to Dismiss

MRA Position Papers

Read the 1984 Michigan Reading Association Position Paper "Reading Redefined"

Read the Michigan Reading Association response to the Change in MEAP Writing Administration.

MRA's Statement in Support of School Libraries and School Librarians

ILA Position Papers

Position Statements and Information Guides

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.

Position Statement Summaries