July 24, 2021

Michigan Education Dept. announces inaugural director of diversity, equity and inclusion

2 min read

Michigan’s Department of Education has announced a new position to lead the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

State Education Superintendent Michael Rice announced Wednesday he has named Rané Garcia DEI director. The position “will be responsible for developing and supporting internal and external efforts and strategies that foster greater fairness and inclusion in the state’s public schools.”

Garcia, currently the superintendent of the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System, will begin her new role Aug. 23.

Ben DeGrow, Mackinac Center for Public Policy director of education policy, questioned the need and added expense for another agency within the Department of Education.

“Funding this growth to the education bureaucracy is not a priority in either the governor’s or Legislature’s proposals, nor should it be,” DeGrow told The Center Square. “State officials should be giving more power to parents and local school leaders, not unelected bureaucrats.”

Rice’s office did not respond to a request from The Center Square for further information regarding the new position, including if public money would be appropriated for additional DEI staffing, Garcia’s salary, or what tasks precisely will Garcia’s office perform that aren’t already being performed by similar departments at each of the state’s universities.

The office of Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, declined a request from The Center Square for a comment.

Based on proposals from Whitmer and the state Senate, the MDE is currently looking at a 17% to 18% budget increase for fiscal 2021-22, which is mostly tied to federal dollars.

The greatest percentage of this increase is earmarked for a one-time appropriation to reimburse child care providers for parents can’t afford it, rather than for growing MDE staffing, noted DeGrow.

Additionally, as reported in April by The Detroit News, the House is giving serious consideration to changing the MDE budget to quarterly rather than annual.

Furthermore, DeGrow said, the timing of Rice’s announcement, immediately before the legislature adjourns for summer break and late in negotiations in the 2021-22 budget process, will likely increase attempts by the GOP-led House to provide more budget oversight and control.

Garcia has served as superintendent for the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System since 2017, following a year as its assistant superintendent. Her 31-year career in public education includes experience as a teacher, principal, and district administrator.

This article was originally posted on Michigan Education Dept. announces inaugural director of diversity, equity and inclusion

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