FACT CHECK: Perry Johnson’s New Ad Misleads on Governor Whitmer’s Record of Improving Education and Empowering Michigan Students, Parents, and Educators

Today odd-quality “guru” Perry Johnson launched yet another misleading attack ad against Governor Whitmer, this time in the hopes it will distract Michiganders from his dangerous agenda to decimate public education by enacting a voucher-style scheme and shutting down struggling schools. More than $3.5 million has been spent leveling false attacks on Whitmer’s leadership since the start of the 2022 cycle. 

The 30-second spot blatantly mischaracterizes the ways in which Governor Whitmer has been critical to putting the needs of students, parents, and educators first since day one. Here’s the truth:

Governor Whitmer Worked with Republicans to Get Kids Safely Back to School and Urged School Districts to Return to In-Person Learning

Knowing that every school district in Michigan has returned to in-person learning, Johnson opens his ad with the lie that that isn’t the case. Governor Whitmer has been a strong and vocal advocate for getting our schools back to normal, using her most recent State of the State to reaffirm her “crystal clear” belief that students “belong in schools” because remote learning is “not as fulfilling or conducive to a child’s growth.” 

To facilitate a smooth and safe transition back to the classroom, Whitmer called on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in January to “send 300,000 COVID-19 tests to schools…to combat the spread of the omicron variant.” And this month, she signed a bipartisan supplemental funding bill that included $150 million for testing in schools, “deliver[ing] on Democrats’ and Republicans’ shared goals of keeping students learning in school.” These investments came on top of the $580 million previously authorized by Whitmer in 2020 to “increase safety when students do return to classes and provide hazard pay to teachers.”

Governor Whitmer Has Repeatedly Affirmed Parents’ Right to be Involved in Their Student’s Education

As a member of the legislature and parent of children that went to public schools, Governor Whitmer voted multiple times in favor of legislation aimed at implementing systems for public schools and school districts to implement plans “designed to increase parental involvement in schools and instructional programs.

Governor Whitmer Has Made Historic Investments in Public Education and Educators, Closed Funding Gaps Between School Districts Across Michigan

Governor Whitmer has proposed a multibillion dollar investment in public education that includes a significant increase in the per-student grant each individual school districts receive along with pay raises for educators and school personnel.

Last year, she secured a bipartisan $17.1 billion dollar public education budget that completely closed a decades-long state funding gap between school districts, and made the “largest investment in PreK-12 schools in state history” — all without raising taxes.

Working with the legislature, Whitmer also successfully secured a $73 million ‘Classroom Heroes Grant’ that provided hazard pay to teachers and educational support staff, rewarding them for staying on the frontlines of the pandemic. 

And for the upcoming budget, Governor Whitmer has proposed providing teachers with annual retention bonuses up to $4,000 and allocating $600 million for educator recruitment in the form of training and “expanded programs to attract and keep teachers in their own communities.”

Perry Johnson Supports a DeVos-Style School Voucher Agenda That Would Decimate Public Education

Johnson has already communicated to Michiganders that he’s “not interested in the same things” as them – such as a robust public education system that keeps students, parents, and educators first. That’s why his ad predictably fails to point out the disastrous impacts his education agenda would have across Michigan.

Johnson’s extreme education agenda – implementing a voucher-style funding scheme and pledging to shut down struggling schools – would dismantle public education as we know it.

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