Education Advocates of West Michigan

DeVos Place (1)

Legislative Priorities for 2023-24 Session

The Education Advocates of West Michigan advocate for a student-centered budget and policy agenda. Our positions are based upon that foundational principle.

As we continue in the recovery phase of the pandemic, it is important for policymakers to understand schools are doing their best to meet the academic and behavioral health needs of our students with a strained labor market. 

By partnering together, we can advance policies that remove barriers to our work and also make investments in our future.

State Agenda

Continue implementation of a student-centered funding formula as outlined by the School Finance Research Collaborative.

Why? A student-centered funding formula ensures schools receive the necessary resources to provide each student with the individualized support and resources they need to succeed. When each student has the necessary support they can fulfill their full potential.

What needs to be done?

  • Increasing the foundation grant to $10,421
  • Fully funding special education
  • Additional 35% funding for at-risk students
  • Increased support for English learner students
  • Provide categorical support for transportation
  • Provide additional support for Career Technical Education
  • Create categorical equalization support for school facilities

Other considerations
For years our state has taken the approach to allocate funding outside of the student-centered funding formula in additional categoricals. This approach is cumbersome and reduces district flexibility to meet the needs of their students.

Enact student-centered policies that support the work of school districts working to serve the needs of students.

Why? State education policy serves an important role in setting expectations for our schools. Frequently in policy development, we see laws being too prescriptive. By streamlining laws, schools can focus on their primary goal of providing students with a high-quality education.

We would ask legislators to consider the opportunity cost of the passage of new laws. When our state passes laws that are too prescriptive or include additional mandates it diverts time and resources away from districts implementing their own unique initiatives to improve student achievement.

What needs to be done?

  • Streamline teacher and administrator evaluation
  • Amend the “Read by Grade 3” law
  • Transition to a single transparent school accountability system
  • Provide flexibility in the Michigan Merit Curriculum
  • Expand opportunities for Career Technical Education and work-study
  • Continue efforts to develop our educator workforce

Federal Agenda

  • Extend timeline to spend ESSER funds
  • Fully fund the Individual with Disabilities Education Act
  • Provide additional assessment flexibility under ESSA


Develop a world-class workforce in West Michigan by ensuring students are college and career ready.

The Education Advocates of West Michigan believes that cooperation amongst the talent community is critical to meeting the needs of our communities and economy. The talent community is comprised of all actors and agents that provide or receive educational services.


Proactively advocate for student- centered, evidence-based policies that ensure students are college and career ready.

This work will be accomplished through collaboration with the talent community to meet the needs of our regional economy.

Key Strategic Operating Principles

  • Legislative and community advocacy efforts are driven by a mutually beneficial need to develop a world-class work force in West Michigan.
  • The work is pro-active in that it will intentionally engage the ideas and understanding of diverse stakeholders committed to the common goal of world-class talent development. The EAWM will work to author and influence legislative proposals.
  • The work is student-centered and collaborative; sensitive to the rich educational diversity in the region.

Key Benchmarks

The EAWM will align its advocacy work with established benchmarks that ensure students are meeting key educational targets on their way to becoming college and career ready. The proposed benchmarks include:

  • Kindergarten Readiness (metric: Michigan Model for School Readiness)
  • 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency (metrics: MEAP and/or other national, state and local assessments)
  • 8th Grade Math Scores (metrics: MEAP and/or other national, state and local assessments)
  • College and Career Ready (metrics: ACT, NCRC, remedial coursework, median income, unemployment)

Kent ISD

Muskegon Area ISD

Ottawa Area ISD


Dan Behm

Executive Director Education Advocates of West Michigan