Gov. Whitmer Proclaims Nov. 27 Small Business Saturday, Encourages Michiganders to Support Local Businesses this Holiday Season and Year-Round

Proclamation intended to celebrate resiliency, contributions of small businesses and entrepreneurs to the state 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today declared Nov. 27 as Small Business Saturday in Michigan and urges Michiganders to buy locally this Saturday and throughout the year to support Michigan’s small businesses.

“Small businesses are the backbones of our communities, and we want to remind Michiganders that supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs creates jobs, leads to more vibrant communities, and builds a stronger economy for everyone,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Our small businesses demonstrated incredible resiliency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we should celebrate them and their invaluable contributions to our state by shopping local this holiday season. I will continue working to ensure that small businesses have the resources they need to succeed as we usher in a new era of prosperity together.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses comprise more than 98 percent of Michigan businesses and employ half of Michigan workers. For every $100 spent at a local business, roughly $68 stays in the local economy, allowing business and job growth.

In addition, according to the Michigan Retailers Association, one in five Michigan jobs are in the retail industry. In 2020, Michigan residents sent $23.7 billion to out-of-state retailers. If only one in 10 out-of-state purchases were switched to local stores, Michigan would gain $1.9 billion in increased economic activity, creating 14,000 new jobs.

“While every day is a good day to shop small and buy nearby, we hope Michiganders will make a concentrated effort this Saturday and throughout the holiday season to shop at local retailers and businesses. Not only will you find gifts on store shelves and avoid possible shipping delays by buying nearby, but you’ll be supporting the local businesses who make our communities great places to live and work. With so many challenges facing business owners this year and last, they need the community’s support more than ever,” William J. Hallan, president and chief executive officer, Michigan Retailers Association.

In 2020, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) launched the “Support Local” campaign to remind Michiganders of the importance of supporting local businesses during the holidays and throughout the winter season. The Support Local landing page at michigan.org/supportlocal offers resources that help residents shop and eat local, including links to vibrant downtowns that are filled with local shops specializing in décor, fashion, pet toys, hardware, and more. For the craft beverage lover, Michigan’s beer, wine , and spirits can be found throughout the state at brick-and-mortar shops and local grocery stores. Around Michigan, independent bookstores overflow with page-turning stories and gifts. To refuel, shoppers can visit one of Michigan’s coffee shops and get a bag of beans to brew at home. Or give the gift of travel, creating memories at destinations throughout the state.

“As we look at ways to grow an equitable and resilient economy in Michigan, we remain committed to supporting our small businesses, their workers, and the local communities in all corners of the state,” said MEDC Chief Executive Officer Quentin L. Messer, Jr. “The Saturday after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest days of the holiday season, and by shopping local, we can help Michigan workers, businesses, and communities thrive this season and beyond.”

“Small businesses play a vital role in their local communities and have been through unprecedented challenges during this pandemic,” said Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity to celebrate them and show our support during the busy holiday season.”

Meet LTU’s new President

Dr. Tarek M. Sobh has been appointed as the eighth president of Lawrence Technological University and will assume office January 1, 2022, announced Douglas Ebert, chairman of LTU’s Board of Trustees.

“Lawrence Tech is the creative and innovative university of the future,” said Sobh. “We are the preeminent technological university that prepares students for job titles that do not even exist yet! LTU makes a difference in the lives of our students and our community. I look forward to continuing this important work in my new role.”

Sobh, a licensed professional engineer, has served as vice president of academic affairs and provost at Lawrence Tech since 2020. Previously, he was the interim provost; and the university executive vice president, research and economic development and founding dean of the College of Engineering, Business and Education at the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut). He received a Bachelor of Science in engineering with honors in computer science and automatic control from Alexandria University, Egypt, and Master of Science and PhD degrees in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania. He began his academic career as a research assistant professor of computer science at the University of Utah.

Sobh succeeds Dr. Virinder Moudgil, who has led LTU with distinction as president for nearly 10 years. “Dr. Moudgil has been an exemplary leader and tireless advocate for Lawrence Tech,” Ebert said. ”During his tenure, LTU has seen exponential growth in partnerships and programs along with the development of more residence halls and state-of-the-art buildings and laboratories.”

GM VP of global cyber Kevin Tierney presents ‘Building Cyber Leaders and Leadership’ at Walsh College’s Conversation With Leaders

TROY, Mich., Nov. 22, 2021 — Kevin Tierney, vice president, global cybersecurity for General Motors, will present Building Cyber Leaders and Leadership Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021 from 12-1 p.m. as part of Walsh College’s Conversation With Leaders series. This free, live virtual event will be moderated by Leon Nash, partner, Deloitte. This event, the first in a series of three discussions that will run through 2022, is open to all. Those who work in CFO and CIO offices will benefit significantly from the session. Reservations are required.

Tierney oversees all aspects of cybersecurity risk across the General Motors enterprise. In his previous role as chief product cybersecurity officer he built one of the industry’s first internal red team penetration testing lab and launched the first security vulnerability disclosure program of any major automaker.

“Cyber vulnerability is one of the most significant challenges facing businesses today. Organizations must develop cybersecurity leaders within their own ranks to mitigate complex, ever-evolving cybersecurity risks. Walsh College incorporates this principle into our cybersecurity curriculum and we are fortunate to have Kevin Tierney share his expertise in this area with the Walsh community,” said Michael Levens, Ph.D., president and CEO of Walsh College.

For more information or to register for Building Cyber Leaders and Leadership, visit foundation.walshcollege.edu/conversations-with-leaders

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ABOUT WALSH
Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of Southeast Michigan’s largest graduate business schools, offering classes in several locations and online. Our internationally and nationally-ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, data analytics, finance, information technology, human resources, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

Dearborn Symphony Orchestra – Holiday Pops

Join the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra with Rich Ridenour and vocalist Stacey Mason at 8 p.m. on December 17 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. The Holiday Pops concert will include a musical jubilee of your favorite holiday tunes. For tickets, call (313) 943-2354 or go to http://www.dearborntheater.com/events/10004478-dearborn-symphony-orchestra-holiday-pops

Moana Jr. Class Registration

Disney’s Moana Jr., directed by Rashid Baydoun with Music Director Vanessa El-Zein, will begin Dearborn Youth Theater classes for ages 12 and older on December 4. Proof of age is required for this program. Classes will be held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Principal roles will require weekends. No classes will take place from December 20, 2021-January 3, 2022.

This production will culminate with performances on February 4 at 7 p.m., February 5 at 2 and 7 p.m., and February 6 at 1 and 5 p.m. Class registration is $150 (service fees not included).

For more information, call the theater box office at (313) 943-2354. Box office hours are Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Register by going to http://www.dearborntheater.com/events/10004484-moana-jr-class-registration

Walsh College grants up to $10K merit awards to all undergraduate students with 3.75 GPA

TROY, Mich., Nov. 18, 2021 — Walsh College is awarding up to $10,000 academic excellence merit awards to all new undergraduate students with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.75 or higher. Graduate students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher will qualify for a limited number of $6,000 academic excellence awards. Numerous scholarship opportunities for student who do not meet the GPA requirement are available as well.

“Many students are facing new financial challenges and we never want those to be a barrier to education. Walsh is proud to provide these funds to remove some financial burden and allow students to focus on their studies and prepare for successful careers,” said Heide Wisby, director of financial aid.

Expanding the scholarship program to increase access to education is a primary focus of Walsh’s centennial campaign, which was recently launched ahead of the 100th anniversary of the school’s founding in 2022. Walsh provided more than $500K in grants, awards and scholarships to incoming students in the fall 2021 semester.

Applications are still being accepted for Walsh’s winter semester beginning Jan.3, 2022. For more information or to apply, visit www.walshcollege.edu.

# # #

ABOUT WALSH
Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of Southeast Michigan’s largest graduate business schools, offering classes in several locations and online. Our internationally and nationally-ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, data analytics, finance, information technology, human resources, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit www.walshcollege.edu.

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission.org) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (www.acbsp.org).

Butzel attorney Lynn McGuire named Co-Chair of the firm’s Education Industry Team

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Butzel attorney and shareholder Lynn McGuire has been named Co-Chair of the firm’s Education Industry Team. She joins Butzel attorney and shareholder Carey A. DeWitt in this leadership role.

Notably, Butzel’s Education Industry Team helps clients navigate the unique legal, operational and economic issues and relationships inherent to the industry. Butzel’s education clients include nationally renowned public and private universities, colleges, independent schools, public school academies, public school districts, vocational and for-profit institutions, foundations, and education technology companies.

McGuire concentrates her practice in the area of employee benefits law. She regularly works with defined benefit pension plans, 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) and (f) retirement plans, insured and self-insured group health plans, cafeteria plans, health reimbursement arrangements, flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, qualified transportation fringe benefits, on-site clinics, wellness programs, employee assistance programs, group life insurance, STD, LTD, opt-out cash benefits, pre-tax premiums, tuition assistance benefits, vacation trusts, and non-qualified deferred compensation plans.

She frequently advises employers and plan service providers on the Affordable Care Act (Health Care Reform). She has a wealth of experience in advising employers and other fiduciaries on fiduciary “best practices,” as well as ERISA and tax compliance. McGuire negotiates all types of plan service provider contracts, including investment agreements for separate segregated funds and pooled investment vehicles. She regularly drafts a variety of benefit plan-related documents, including plans, summary plan descriptions, policies and procedures, plan amendments, required notices, IRS determination letter applications, QDRO determinations, and QMCSO determinations.

McGuire has significant experience representing clients in Department of Labor audits and investigations. Over the years, she has represented a countless number of clients in IRS employee plan compliance resolution system filings and IRS determination letter applications. She provides strategic counsel on mergers, plant closings, benefit plan termination, and withdrawal liability associated with multiemployer fringe benefit funds.

Before joining Butzel, McGuire was a partner in a private practice, providing services to various fiduciaries including fringe benefit fund sponsors and Boards. She managed complex civil litigation matters, including ERISA-based fiduciary liability claims, prohibited transactions, and pension investment litigation.

McGuire has been named to the 2014 and 2017-2022 list of peer-voted “Top Lawyers” by DBusiness magazine. Notably, she is ranked in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, in the category of Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, 2018-2021. She also has earned a Certificate in Global Benefits Management and a Certificate of Achievement in Canadian Benefit Plans from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

She is admitted to practice in the States of Ohio and Michigan. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bars of Michigan and Ohio, the Greater Ann Arbor Society for Human Resource Managers, and previously served on the Board of the Washtenaw Area Council for Children.

McGuire graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School (J.D., 1997), where she was a Student Note Editor for the Journal of College and University Law, and earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn (B.A., with Distinction, 1993).

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Small Business Saturday returns at pivotal time for retailers

Crain’s Detroit Business
Nov. 22, 2021
Jay Davis

Small Business Saturday returns this week for the 12th time and this year’s event is a pivotal one.

“Small businesses are still recovering from the pandemic, when many were forced to endure closures or restrictions,” said Sarah Miller, vice president of marketing and communications for the Small Business Association of Michigan. “We know that, for retail stores in particular, the holiday season represents a large portion of yearly sales. Choosing to shop at a small business makes a big impact on local economies, with about 67 cents of every dollar spent staying in that community.”

Small Business Saturday, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is billed as a day to celebrate and support small businesses. The event, established in 2010 by American Express and co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Association, has become big for small businesses. The 2020 event saw shoppers spend about $19.8 billion, up slightly from 2019.

Thousands of businesses in metro Detroit and throughout the state are set to participate this year, offering discounts, giveaways and more. For example:

  • The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is compiling listings of brick-and-mortar and online small businesses and what they are offering. Local businesses can submit their own events, too.
  • Downtown Rochester is offering visitors a chance to win a $500 shopping spree and a list of participating businesses.
  • Oakland County as a whole has created an online hub that allows prospective shoppers in 23 communities to find participating businesses and a list of activities.
  • Macomb County is running its Shop Local Macomb campaign through Dec. 5.

Miller understands the importance of the focus on the day, but believes consumers shouldn’t wait until the holiday season to shop small. “While Small Business Saturday is just one day, we encourage everyone to support their local small businesses all year long when doing holiday shopping, dining out, or even choosing a service provider,” she said.

View the original article.

Nov. 19 | This Week in Government: Biden Touts Electric Vehicles During Detroit GM Factory Visit; September Unemployment Rate Revised Upward 1.7 Points

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Biden Touts Electric Vehicles During Detroit GM Factory Visit
  2. September Unemployment Rate Revised Upward 1.7 Points
  3. GOP U.S. Reps Call Infrastructure Law ‘Build Back Broke Plan’
  4. Theis Urges School Boards To Adopt Strict COVID Vaccine Policies
  5. Broadband Tax Exemption Bills Reintroduced

Biden Touts Electric Vehicles During Detroit GM Factory Visit

President Joe Biden hailed the expansion of electric vehicles during his visit Wednesday to General Motors’ Factory ZERO after signing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law earlier in the week, saying for the first time in 20 years the United States is investing more in its infrastructure than China.

Biden also showered praise on the Michigan Democratic congressional delegation, thanking U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) extensively for her efforts to get the infrastructure bill passed.

The historic investment is anticipated to create thousands of jobs. Biden said union members will install roughly 500,000 charging stations for electric vehicles across the country and GM promised to install 40,000 public charging stations. GM CEO Mary Barra announced at the beginning of the year that by 2035, the company would be 100 percent electric.

The president promised to replace cars in the federal fleet with union-made electric vehicles, saying the process to build the cars would start in Michigan.

“We’re going to make sure the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not half-way around the world,” Biden says. “That means here in Detroit, you’re going to set a new pace for electric vehicles. This is not hyperbole. This is a fact.”

The infrastructure law and the Build Back Better Plan, Biden said, will kickstart new batteries, materials and parts production and recycling. Federal agencies also plan to boost the manufacturing of electric vehicles with new loans and tax credits, hoping to create consumer incentives for purchasing new cleaner vehicles.

Estimating 10 million lead pipes in homes and 400,000 lead pipes servicing public schools, Biden also said the funding would help hire tens of thousands of plumbers to begin service line replacement. About $10 billion is dedicated to eliminating PFAS in contaminated regions across the country.

Biden also touched on expanding broadband, saying nearly 400,000 people in the state lack access to high-speed wireless internet.

“Look, this law is going to make high-speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America,” Biden said. “Create jobs laying down that broadband line. Today, 14 percent of Michigan households don’t have an internet subscription.”

Earlier in the day, members of the Michigan GOP congressional delegation said many Michiganders in rural areas did not have access to broadband, thus making it harder to place electric vehicle charging stations in those areas. U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Township) said the president was being unrealistic to push for electric vehicles in rural areas without access to broadband (see related story).

At the GM Factory, Biden again promised that Americans making less than $400,000 would not see their federal taxes increase. He repeatedly said, “it’s all paid for” and promised to tax corporations more. According to the president, at least 55 corporations last year did not pay anything in federal taxes.

Throughout his speech, Biden commended the middle class, at one point calling the infrastructure law the “Blue Collar Blueprint.” He finished the night by saying he has no problem with people on Wall Street, but they did not build America.

“The middle-class built America and unions built the middle class,” Biden said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was noticeably absent from the president’s visit. Bobby Leddy, Whitmer’s press secretary, said the governor was meeting with the Semiconductor Industry Association Board of Directors to discuss ongoing efforts to increase domestic chip production and innovation. A shortage of chips over the past year has been an ongoing concern in the auto industry.

“These conversations follow the governor’s action last week to join a bipartisan coalition of governors calling on Congress to pass the CHIPS Act to support Michigan’s automotive and manufacturing industry amidst the ongoing chip shortage,” Leddy said. “And it highlights the state’s ongoing commitment to landing historic investments in the automotive sector, like the KLA and SK Siltron investments, which will create more than one thousand good-paying, high-tech jobs and bring hundreds of millions of dollars to our state’s economy.”


September Unemployment Rate Revised Upward 1.7 Points

Seasonally adjusted unemployment in Michigan was revised upward for the month of September from 4.6 percent to 6.3 percent, the state announced Wednesday, because of inaccuracies in federal estimates.

The Department of Technology, Management and Budget also announced the state unemployment rate for October was 6.1 percent.

A release from DTMB said the upward revision was the result of a distortion in statistical estimates found by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the adjustment to September, DTMB said further adjustments to the state’s unemployment figures for January through August will also need to be made during the traditional review process done at the end of the calendar year. All months for 2021 should be revised in March 2022.

For some time, Michigan’s unemployment rate has appeared low considering that total employment remains well below where it was prior to the pandemic.

Total employment in the state increased slightly in October, by 6,000. Unemployment fell by about 7,000, making the workforce largely unchanged for the month.

“Despite the upward revision in September’s unemployment rate, the new data shows that Michigan’s jobless rate has fallen substantially over the past year from 8.1 percent to 6.1 percent,” Scott Powell, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “The unemployment rate revisions by the BLS are a necessary part of the statistical estimation process to ensure accuracy.”

Michigan’s unemployment rate for October was above the national rate of 4.6 percent.

Wednesday’s report stated payroll jobs rose by 38,000 during October, an increase of 0.9 percent and the largest recorded growth since February.

The state’s workforce level had reportedly shrunk by 96,000, or 2 percent, since October 2020.

Michigan unemployment levels were still about 276,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels from February 2020. The October 2021 unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was above the 3.7 percent levels recorded in February 2020.

The largest jobs gains in October were in the leisure and hospitality sector, seeing growth of 1.8 percent. Manufacturing was close behind with growth of 1.7 percent from the previous month, followed by information (1.6 percent) and professional and business services (1.5 percent).

For the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metropolitan statistical area, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent in October, a drop of 0.2 percentage point. This followed a large upward revision of the September numbers for the region from 3.9 percent to 6 percent. Total employment in the region increased by about 5,000, while unemployment fell by 4,000.


GOP U.S. Reps Call Infrastructure Law ‘Build Back Broke Plan’

U.S. Rep Tim Walberg and U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga coined the infrastructure bill the “Build Back Broke Plan” and the “Buy Back Voters Act,” respectively, during a press conference on Wednesday, vocalizing their frustration over the bipartisan law ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to a General Motors plant in Detroit.

The Republican National Committee hosted a virtual call where four Michigan GOP congressional delegation members highlighted their concerns over nationwide inflation, rising gas prices and the fight to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

Speaking on inflation, Huizenga (R-Zeeland) said current costs did not reflect transitory inflation, which is the expectation inflation will not remain high permanently. He also called the country energy dependent, saying the country is asking the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for more help.

“At the end of the day, this is not transitory inflation,” Huizenga said. “Many of us have been saying that for a very long time. According to AAA, the national average increase in gas prices is $1.33. In Michigan, it’s just shy of $2 per gallon, just from 18 months ago, and our energy independence has gone out the window.”

Walberg (R-Tipton) said the infrastructure bill would add further burdens to Michigan. He referenced a letter he and other Republican U.S. House members signed that called for Biden to stop attempts to close Line 5, saying the oil pipeline has had no spills or damage over its 70-year lifetime.

“Stop even giving an indication that there’s ever an idea that would come to fruition of closing down Line 5 in Michigan, a line that has been there supplying fuel, propane and all sorts… for Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Canada,” Walberg said.

Walberg said the disruption of the pipeline is causing concern for his constituents, particularly farmers, over rising natural gas and propane prices.

U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Township) asked what the Biden Administration’s solution would be to replace Line 5, saying she wants less talk and more action. She said Line 5 should stay open until an alternative was found.

McClain also questioned whether electric vehicle chargers could be built without widespread broadband.

McClain said while it’s great Biden is visiting Detroit, he should perhaps visit her district which is home to more rural areas, especially as he is pushing expansion of electric vehicle charging stations.

“We don’t even have broadband in some of the rural areas,” McClain said. “How are we going to get the charging stations, let’s be realistic… I think you need to spend some time in these rural areas… they do have different needs and problems.”

The four expressed disappointment over the president’s and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s actions over the past year, asking why the president is inflicting extra burdens on Michiganders.

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) said the two leaders are essentially penalizing Michigan residents with the infrastructure law, saying his constituents were struggling prior to the law and working at least two jobs and can’t afford the proposed taxes.

“This bill penalizes hard working and low-income families and individuals,” Bergman said. “When you think about adding value, you look to where is the value. There’s a lot of talk, electric vehicles, all different things, but the bottom line is, when you add costs to a fixed income… coal heating bills, natural gas tax, all of those things that add to the operating expenses to that individual or family, they can’t afford what this bill brings to the table.”

Among the three Republican U.S. House members from Michigan not on the call was U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), who voted for the infrastructure bill.


Theis Urges School Boards To Adopt Strict COVID Vaccine Policies

Sen. Lana Theis on Monday issued a call for local school boards to approve resolutions regarding coronavirus vaccines at schools, her latest move to push back against mandates for the vaccine.

In a statement, Theis (R-Brighton) repeated statements she has made in recent months against vaccine mandates in schools, saying she believes it would be unfair to treat the unvaccinated differently than those who have had their shots.

“No student should ever be denied an education because of some arbitrary government vaccine policy,” Theis said, adding that children should be guaranteed an in-person education regardless of their vaccination status and that school boards should affirm this on a local level. “I also urge school boards to adopt a policy that requires a parent to either be physically present or give express written consent before any vaccines are administered on school property.”

The push for local action comes after recent party-line votes in the Senate by the Republican majority regarding COVID-19 policy that are expected to be vetoed by the governor or are nonbinding.

Last month, the Senate passed four bills along party lines that would ban schools from requiring mask use or vaccines lacking full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. Theis sponsored two of the bills in the package, which have not yet seen movement in the House and would almost certainly be vetoed if they reach the governor’s desk.

Earlier this month, she sponsored a nonbinding resolution that was adopted in the Senate along party lines condemning the U.S. Department of Justice for a memo instructing staff to coordinate a response to threats made against public school officials. Theis characterized her stance as that the FBI was being weaponized against parents who are worried about their children’s education as it relates to mask mandates and alleged teaching of critical race theory.


Broadband Tax Exemption Bills Reintroduced

Sen. Aric Nesbitt is pushing another attempt at legislation that would exempt broadband internet equipment in underserved areas of the state from property taxes, saying it should be part of the larger conversation about broadband as the state considers using federal funding.

Before the Legislature left for its recess on November 10, Nesbitt (R-Lawton) introduced SB 729 and SB 730 that would exempt eligible broadband equipment of a qualified business from property taxes beginning December 31 and provide exemptions for companies delivering broadband access underserved areas with speeds of at 100 megabits per second downstream and 10 megabits per second upstream.

“My hope is to continue the conversation,” Nesbitt said Wednesday.

Similar legislation, HB 4210 and SB 46, the latter also sponsored by Nesbitt, were vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in April and May, respectively.

Nesbitt said the conversation should be continued given that the state is now set to receive federal funding to expand broadband services in the state. Of the roughly $10 billion the state is slated to receive as part of the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package, $100 million is set aside for high-speed internet access to underserved areas.

“If we do do something with broadband, I’d like to see this in the mix,” Nesbitt said.

He explained that with the federal monies coming, he believed, as he did while pushing the previous versions of the bills, that something should be done to spur private sector investment to connect underserved areas.

The bills were referred to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee. Nesbitt said he had good conversations in recent months with chairs of the committees that have heard the bills in both chambers as well as with the lieutenant governor and is hopeful the conversation can continue.

In her veto of SB 46, Whitmer said the bill provided no mechanism for assessors or the Department of Treasury to determine whether the equipment claimed is eligible under the requirement that it resolve a lack of broadband service. She also said the bill failed to include National Telecommunications Infrastructure Administration grantees that primarily focus on services to tribal communities and minority-serving institutions.

Panel: How Teaching Critical Race Theory in Schools Prepares Youth to Create an Equitable Future

Key Takeaways:

  • Critical race theory (CRT) is the exploration of how history has shaped today’s American social institutions, but it has become a catchall for anything related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Everyone has a moral responsibility to learn about how race, gender, and religion have, and continues to, impact lives today, and policies to prevent that prevent equitable democracy. Educators encourage opposers of CRT to learn what it is before opposing it at school board meetings and with legislators.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, New Detroit, Inc. partnered with Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance to hold a virtual townhall addressing the controversy around critical race theory. The town hall was moderated by award-winning journalist Stephen Henderson and included:

  • Rashawn Ray, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Professor of Sociology and Executive Director, Lab for Applied Social Science Research, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Truman Hudson Jr., Social Economist; Outreach Coordinator, Instructor, and Multiculturalism Teacher, College of Education, Wayne State University
  • Mary Jane Evink, Executive Director, Instructional Services, Grand Haven Public Schools; Chairperson, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee
  • Hailey Beatty Barton, Special Education Teacher, Grand Haven High School; Liaison, Calling All Colors, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance

View the webinar recording here.


What is and What is Not Critical Race Theory?

CRT has been a prominent topic in the American news cycle recently, with both supporters and opposers of teaching it in K-12 schools weighing in on it. In the New Detroit press release, critical race theory was defined as a body of legal scholarship and academic movement developed in the 1970s to demonstrate that racism is a systemic issue that continues to be ingrained in American systems, including health care, criminal justice, and education.

This definition is often not what’s being talked about in the discourse between opposers and supporters of teaching it in schools. According to Ray, the term “critical race theory” has simply become a catchall phrase for anything related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

“It’s important to put it in a proper context for what’s happening today. We know that over the summer that Fox News mentioned critical race theory nearly one thousand times for a series of months. We actually tracked this in a Brookings report, and what we found in our analysis is that critical race theory became quite removed from the actual definition and conceptualization of it,” Ray said. “What’s important to note is that critical race theory became a flashpoint, and what we called a boogeyman, for anything related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The reason Ray cites for this catchall occurring is that a lot of opponents of CRT believe that it’s “admonishing all white people for being oppressors, and all Black people as hopelessly oppressed victims,” which is inaccurate. Nevertheless, this false narrative has led many school boards and legislators across the U.S. to preemptively ban teachings of CRT, as well as teachings about sexism and homophobia.

“Our analysis of legislations across the country shows that critical race theory and the way that critical race theory has captured diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives has extended well beyond how we might think about race and racism in the classroom,” Ray said. “There’s one fundamental problem: these narratives about critical race theory are gross exaggerations of theoretical framework. The broad brush that is being applied to critical race theory is puzzling to academics like myself, including some of the scholars who actually coined and originally started the term. Critical race theory does not attribute racism to white people as individuals or even to entire races of people. Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions – the criminal justice system, the education system, the labor market, housing, health care – that these social institutions are laced with racism that is embedded in our laws, our rules, our regulations, and procedures, and lead to differential outcomes by race.”

The bottom-line issue, according to Ray, is that many people are not taking the time to understand there is a difference between American people and American social institutions and that the definition and exploration of CRT are focusing on the latter.

“Sociologists and other scholars have long noted that racism can’t exist without racists. However, many Americans are not able to separate their individual identity as an American from the social institutions that govern us,” Ray said. “These people perceive themselves as the system; consequently, they interpret calling social institutions racist as calling them racist personally. It speaks to how normative racial ideology is to American identity, as some people can’t simply separate these two things: their individual identity and social institutions. They’re simply unwilling to remove the blind spots that oftentimes obscures the fact that America is not great for everyone.”

Outside of CRT being an inaccurate catchall for DEI, which ultimately creates many arguments against it, one argument against talking about race, in general, has been that it doesn’t explain everything in America. While that is true, Ray cautions that ignoring it – because racism isn’t the cause for everything – would be a misstep. He compared it to talking about sexism, using the example of women finally getting paid the same as men in 2050. Waiting 29 years until the issue rectifies itself doesn’t seem like the wisest thing to do when the problem can be rectified today.

“Part of the problem there is that anytime a form of difference – race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability – is used as a hindrance for someone, additional hurdles for people to step over, those are things we should operate to address,” Ray said. “A lot of people think that progress is linear. In other words, that if we made progress in the past, it should simply continue. And that’s not how equality works. Instead, we actually have to double down on it. We have to ensure our policies are equitable because, or else, the same way that things move forward, they can reverse back.”

Why Critical Race Theory is Not a Threat to Education

According to Hudson Jr., CRT is important to teach in school because it’s simply looking back at the framework of how we operate in the U.S.; specifically, how U.S. social institutions have evolved since Columbus and the Spaniards first came to the Americas 529 years ago, and eventually when the nation and Constitution were created. During these times, Black and other minority people were not the only groups exploited. Poor white men and women also were. This is the framework for which CRT is explored in education, Hudson Jr. said.

“Establishing this framework of critical race theory, it’s important to understand that if you were a poor white male, you didn’t have a voice, you did not have access to voting. If you were enslaved in this country, you did not have a voice. If you were a woman, you did not have a voice. This country was grown and developed based on this framework that comes out of the Constitution,” Hudson Jr. said. “The laws that frame how we operate in this country are all guided by the Constitution of the United States.”

Another reason Hudson Jr. cited as a reason why CRT should be taught in K-12 schools is that the books youth are reading do not reflect the diversity of the U.S. If students were to only learn about U.S. history based on those books, the perspectives of non-white men would never be explored and used to frame one’s understanding of history.

“It took us 232 years to get our first Black male president, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime. We have our first Black female vice president. In our nation’s history, we’ve only had three people of color to ascend to the judicial branch of the Supreme Court in our country. Those are key for young people to understand when we start to unpack legislation and how legislation informs who they are,” Hudson Jr. said.

This dissection of history, or CRT, would easy fit within the already established sixth to 12th grade history and social studies common core standards, or goals and expectations that are put in place to help young people learn and create their own understanding of history.

“They are empowered to gather evidence from primary documents and construct their own knowledge of the past based on their findings,” Hudson Jr. said. “We’re not in a space in America where we’re fully embracing that young people have a voice, and they’re in a position where they can articulate through research that’s guided by an instructor or an educator to help them better understand how these laws, how these people, places, and historical events have truly informed the type of education they’re receiving.”

Youth are already finding the information CRT discusses on their own, outside of the classroom. Hudson Jr. believes they’re being pigeonholed into the old method of learning, as if information is not readily available. Now, youth simply go onto YouTube or TikTok to find the information they want. They also attend protests, such as the ones in Summer 2020 following the death of George Floyd. Teaching CRT in school where their learning can be guided would serve to ensure the accuracy of the information they’re learning.

“They’re in a new space where they’re challenging the narrative because they have access to so much information. But what we’re doing is, we’re pigeonholing them to this old ideology, this deficit framework, that they don’t know what it takes to in order to advance this economic and educational agenda that’s supposed to lead us into this space where we can so-called equalize the system,” Hudson Jr. said.

An example of this pigeonholing occurred amid the pandemic, when the federal, state, and local government and schoolboards all had conversations about how students learn the best, but “nobody asked the young people ‘how do you learn best?’”

Critical Race Theory in Grand Haven Schools

In Grand Haven schools, Evink and Beatty Barton shared there is both support and opposition against teaching CRT in schools, although they do not currently teach it. Evink shared it is very complex and takes a lot of resources to implement correctly, which Grand Haven doesn’t have the capacity for right now. Nevertheless, the district still prioritizes DEI initiatives through education and an anti-racism task force.

As for those who oppose CRT being taught in schools, Beatty Barton shared that many opposers do not try to learn what it is and how it’s being taught in the classrooms. Instead, they go straight to opposing it in the curriculum.

“Many people are not willing to have the conversation directly with the person that probably can have the most influence with their children. They’re going to school board meetings and speaking. They’re not reaching out directly to teachers and asking them,” Beatty Barton said. “I am primarily seeing people going to our school board and mentioning much of what Mary Jane said, where they are accusing us of dividing our students and ashaming our students, and they’re just simply not accurate. I really wish that they could take the time to learn a little bit more about what we are truly doing without just listening to this fearmongering that is happening on the internet or in other forms of media where they’re talking about just CRT is that big label of anything related to race rather than digging in and finding out what we truly are doing in the classroom.”

Parents are not the only ones who are split about CRT in schools. Beatty Barton said there are three types of teachers as well:

  1. Teachers who make a lot of effort to become more educated about the subject and teach it.
  2. Teachers who are interested but are hesitant and scared to teach it, either because they do not have enough knowledge, or they do not want to jeopardize their career.
  3. eachers who are resistant because they see CRT to be racist and something that causes issues.

“History is hard. When we teach history, when we teach the truth, it’s just the teaching. It’s not meant to cause division, it’s not meant to make us dislike each other, or make a child feel like they are less because of whatever their background is,” Beatty Barton said. “We need to work together to come up with ways that we can become more united and learn our true purpose in how we can make this better for all students. We have to talk about race…gender, we have to talk about these things in order to make that change and make things more fair, more equitable for everyone, and help our kids get that better education.”

Resources

In order to get the conversation about CRT back to a point where only the truth and facts are being discussed, Ray suggested four things:

  1. Have conversations with people who have different views than you do. Ray recommends starting with those you are close to because people are more apt to listen to people they care about.
  2. Rebuild trust in science by elevating academic research and writing. This does not mean force articles on them, but simply ask them their thoughts on it. According to Ray, over time, they will begin saying things that align with what they read.
  3. Help people identify truth in the media. One way to do this is refer to the media bias chart, which will show the polarizing ways media outlets operate. The most neutral, objective sources will be in green.
  4. Be a racial equity learner, advocate, and broker. According to Ray, a learner does things like research and attend webinars, an advocate engages with others, and a broker contacts state legislators about what they think.

Evink also recommended watching documentaries such as 13th to have a good background before you start conversations about CRT.

“Here’s the big pitch to people who have heard a narrative that is different from what we know about critical race theory: if you truly want America to be racially equitable, then actually looking deeply into the history of our country to ensure that we don’t repeat the past is what we all should agree to commit to. And we only do that by educating our children about what happened in the past, so they can be better prepared to create an equitable future,” Ray said.