Why I'm Voting for Abdul El-Sayed for Governor


As a private citizen and public school educator, I am extremely proud to endorse Abdul El-Sayed for Governor of the State of Michigan. El-Sayed is a 33-year-old unapologetically progressive Detroit-area native whose platform is simple: fight inequality in all forms. Included in his platform are incredibly important initiatives: raising the minimum wage to $15, getting corporate money out of politics, and statewide single-payer healthcare. But his education policy specifically, Schools for Our Future, is the reason I will be voting for him.

At its fundamental level, public education should be about equity. Equity means giving all students what they need in order to be successful. Currently in Michigan, this is not always the case. Not all schools are created equal and not all students are getting the resources they need to thrive. El-Sayed’s plan is aggressive in making strides toward real equity in our public education system, something that Michigan is in dire need of. Here is how he’ll do it:

1) De-Devos Public Education – Because there is no regulating body that determines the criteria that charter schools must meet in Michigan, charter schools vary wildly in quality. “School Choice” is a misnomer, because many working class families don’t have the resources to send their kids across town to a quality charter school. The result is an even greater gap between rich and poor families. In addition, many of these charter schools are run by for-profit corporations. Profits become more important than learning, causing students and teachers to suffer. This is not ok. Working in Detroit as the Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department, El-Sayed knows this story all too well. His platform includes creating an independent, statewide charter authorizing council and banning for-profit charter management, something which Michigan desperately needs.

2) Educating the Whole Child – Currently, Michigan funds its schools by collecting taxes at the state level and then redistributing this money to districts based on a headcount of students at that school. Giving each district a set amount of money per student is not equitable: No two districts are the same and every student has their own individual needs. El-Sayed proposes a new, more comprehensive funding formula that will take into account the diversity of the student populations at each school based on poverty status, English Language Learner status, disabilities, district size, and student age. 

3) College for All – Education shouldn’t stop when you finish high school, but for many middle and working class families, the cost of college can be a deterrent for continuing education. With most entry-level jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree, a lot of students feel like they have limited options. El-Sayed’s agenda includes a proposal for Michigan’s first College for All program, the MIScholar Grant. The goal of this last-dollar grant proposal is that all students can finish a four-year degree or a certificate program debt free. This program will provide financial assistance for all families earning less than $150,000 in annual income. The amount of support is based on income level and middle-income families of four would see their out-of-pocket college costs reduced by as much as 80%.

During my tenure as Teacher of the Year, I was able to visit dozens of schools across the state. On this journey, I learned two very important things. First, our state is full of dedicated and inspiring teachers and administrators who care deeply about the success of all students. Second, there are systems in place in public education that are preventing many students from fully realizing academic success.

On August 7, 2018, Michiganders will go to the polls to make a choice about who they think should compete in the Governor’s race in November. Changes need to happen and they need to happen now. That’s why I’m supporting Abdul El-Sayed in his bid to become the next Governor of the State of Michigan. I hope you do too.

Luke Wilcox