Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) reportedly allocated $1.4 million in federal pandemic relief funds to creating virtual Critical Race Theory and social justice courses for schools.

During the pandemic, Michigan was granted emergency funding by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in 2020. Funds were available to Gov. Whitmer to give to education-related entities through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund.

Whitmer allotted $1.4 million of these funds to Michigan State University’s College of Education, University of Michigan’s School of Education, and Michigan Virtual for them to create CRT and social justice programs for K-12 teachers.

A report from the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated how this federal aid money was spent by the state.

“The purpose of the program was to train teachers on how to implement the teacher professional learning standards developed by the Governor’s Education Advisory Council,” pointed out the OIG.

The report said that the state could not support the process it used to select Michigan Virtual, MSU, and UoFM to develop the CRT and social justice courses, which include “Anti-Racism and Social Justice Teaching and Leadership,” “Anti-Racist Trauma-Informed Practice in PreK-12 Education,” “Social-Emotional Learning: Equity Elaborations,” and “Social-Emotional Learning: Assessment Mechanisms.”

One of the courses developed with MSU, “Anti-Racism and Social Justice Teaching and Leadership,” is intended to “teach educators about how to see racism and privilege and how they play out in school and society, analyze theoretical frameworks for anti-racist and social justice teaching, recognize system oppression and apply strategies to dismantle it and examine how to connect with staff and communities.”

The OIG report criticized the way the federal funds were spent by Whitmer, saying, “Congress intended the GEER grant to be an emergency appropriation to address coronavirus-related disruptions and support a state’s ability to continue to provide educational services to students and to support the ongoing functionality of [local educational agencies and institutions of higher education].”

“Michigan did not maintain sufficient documentation related to its decision to award funds to any of the education-related entities selected and not to award funds to other entities that submitted requests for GEER grant funds,” the report added.

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