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Articles from MIRS - July 7, 2002


MDE Receives $677 Million Grant

Watkins: Is He or Isn't He?

MDE Receives $677 Million Grant

Michigan Department of Education officials announced today that it has received full approval from the U.S. Department of Education for its $677 million Consolidated Grant Application.

Michigan was one of the first states to have its application approved by the federal government. The competitive Consolidated State application is an expression of the key principles of President George W. BUSH's education reform plan for stronger accountability, increased state and local flexibility, expanded choices for parents and an emphasis on teaching methods that work in the classroom.

“Our staff, with input from key business and educational stakeholders, put countless hours of work into this application, and more than a million Michigan children will now receive the benefit of their tireless effort,” said Superintendent Tom WATKINS.

Michigan used the Consolidated Grant Application process to reduce “red tape” and create collaboration between state and local educational programming in several areas, including Title 1, Even Start, Education of Migrant Children, Title II – Teacher Quality, and Safe and Drug-Free Schools programming.

“Once again, Michigan is leading the nation in its efforts to truly lift up our schools, teachers and students,” said Kathleen STRAUS, State Board of Education president.

As part of the federal requirement, the state will now begin full-fledged collaboration with key education stakeholders, the business community and local units of government to formulate an action plan for the grant money.

Watkins: Is He or Isn't He?

State Superintendent Tom Watkins is not taking himself off the list of potential Democratic lieutenant governor candidates.

Cornered by reporters after standing next to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Jennifer Granholm during a Lansing news conference, Watkins complained that “Other than you guys, no one else has even talked to me about it so it is purely speculative and not an issue I want to get into.”

Did that mean he was not interested? What would he do if someone offered him the second spot on the ticket?

Watkins wanted no part of the Q and A and continually referred to “his focus” being on helping kids get a good education adding, “It's not an issue that is in front of me or anyone else.”

Chuckling while reporters refused to toss in the towel, Watkins finally gave his most direct answer, “I would say that I am flattered and it goes to show the importance of public education.”

He repeated the same answer twice applying the age old media training advice of “staying on message” no matter what they ask you.

Fueling the speculation is Watkins' stepped up statewide travel schedule on behalf of the State Board of Education, which regularly takes him into the major media markets around the state.

On another subject, Watkins added to his comments of last week concerning the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on legalized vouchers. Watkins figures the pro voucher folks in this state will try again.

“I anticipate that they will,” he said.

And if it does get on the ballot he believes it will again be turned down.

“I believe that it will.”

(Contributed by Senior Capitol Correspondent Tim SKUBICK)

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