Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used federal pandemic relief funds to create virtual courses for teachers about anti-racism and social justice, which encouraged teachers to engage with sources espousing critical race theory.
The CARES Act in 2020 included funds for governors to award to education-related entities via the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund. Whitmer and state officials allotted $1.4 million to Michigan State University College of Education, the University of Michigan’s School of Education and Michigan Virtual to create professional learning modules for K-12 teachers.
According to an email from MSU’s Office of K-12 Outreach sent out Monday, educators are able to take a “newly relaunched” course developed in partnership with MSU’s educator school for free.
Republican lawmakers have previously introduced legislation to the Michigan Legislature that would ban the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms. Other states have passed laws that prohibit its teaching.
The way the program was funded has come under scrutiny from federal oversight agencies. The Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General said in a report released in September that the state could not support the process it used to select Michigan Virtual, MSU and UM to develop the modules.
“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,” said a report from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, which investigated how federal money was spent by the state.