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Governor Whitmer Addresses Forest Hills Educators

From the Co-Editors-in-Chief:

Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited Forest Hills Public Schools on Wednesday to address Forest Hills’ staff members. It was a homecoming for the governor, who is a Forest Hills Central graduate of the class of 1989. She was received by a large group of FHPS staff members at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center and spoke on issues like the 2020 Fiscal Budget, vaping, and education. 

During her days at Forest Hills Central, Governor Whitmer intended to pursue a career in sports broadcasting. Once she reached Michigan State University, however, Whitmer went on to get a bachelors degree in communication. She then attended law school at Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University. She was a State Representative from 2000-2006, State Senator from 2006-2014, Senate Minority Leader from 2010-2014, Ingham County Prosecutor in 2016, and elected Governor of Michigan in 2018. 

Governor Whitmer entering the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport
Ms. Behm and Governor Whitmer, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport
Mr. Thomas and Governor Whitmer, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport

The Whitmer team briefly conducted a meet and greet between the governor and attendees. Staff members were able to go up, shake her hand, ask a question or two, and share their thoughts with her. 

Governor Whitmer speaking to a crowd of FHPS staff members, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport
Superintendent Dan Behm introducing Governor Whitmer, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport

In her speech to Forest Hills staff members, Whitmer was able to speak about growing up in FHPS and the importance of schooling. “I recognize the hard work that not just our teachers, but the support staff, the bus drivers… the work that is done every day in our schools, and of course great administrators like Dr. Behm, and how important that is.” Governor Whitmer continued on to speak about her personal connection to teachers and educators. Her mother was a public school teacher in Lansing Schools, her grandmother a teacher in Waterford Schools, and her grandfather the Superintendent of Pontiac Schools. “I know that nobody pursues a career in education because they think they’re going to see their name in lights or because they are becoming millionaires, they do it because it is a passion.” “It’s been many years since we have had true gratitude shown to our educators in our state,” she says, “but, I’m here to say it’s a new day in Lansing.” This was followed by a wave of applause.

Governor Whitmer speaking to a crowd of FHPS staff members, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport

Whitmer moved on to the main topic of the night: Michigan’s 2020 Fiscal Budget. The fiscal budget is the bill passed every year that allocates funds around the state government and government programs. “I was hopeful [the legislature] would get serious about negotiating and passing a budget,” Whitmer said, but a bill has yet to reach her desk. For the first time in nine years, the Michigan House and Senate took a summer recess without getting a fiscal budget passed.

Nathan La Huis and Josephine Ness ask questions to Governor Whitmer, Photo Credit: Anna Rapaport

In response to the issue of vaping among minors, Governor Whitmer announced a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in the state of Michigan on September 4th. She cited concerns for kids’ safety and a national health crisis as her reasoning behind the ban. The Trump administration followed suit on Wednesday, proposing a nation-wide ban on flavored nicotine products as well. 

Whitmer received mixed reactions about the new regulation. Some predicted that it would allow for a massive black market of flavored nicotine products to surface in Michigan. However, the governor insisted that, while “a black market concern certainly is something that I have, we are going to have all of the enforcement that we need to ensure that we get these dangerous products out of the marketplace.”  

Whitmer is confident that she made the right decision in banning flavored vape products. She believes that this is a positive step to protect the health of our youth and hopes that people “take the moment to get educated about the dangers of flavored vaping.” 

Whitmer promised to pass a state budget. “I want to assure you that I am working day and night to make sure that we avoid [a shutdown]… I am also working day and night to ensure that we protect education [in the budget].” She expressed her disappointment with the way that Michigan’s legislature has handled the budgeting conflict and their refusal to “get serious about a real plan for the roads.” She accused them of “running the clock out and putting everything else that we need to do in Michigan in jeopardy, from the education of our young people to cleaning up our drinking water to taking care of our veterans.” While the Republican legislature’s goal is to reduce government spending, Whitmer assured the attendees that she would continue to work hard to pass a budget that supports Michigan schools and the people of Michigan as a whole.