LANSING – Governor Whitmer has appointed Zeinab Chami and other Michigan educators to sit on her Educator Advisory Council. The announcement was made on May 9.
The council was created by Whitmer to review and make recommendations regarding legislation that will directly impact the state’s public education system.
It will also identify and analyze issues that impact the effectiveness of Michigan’s public education system, identify best practices in public education and recommend corresponding changes and improvements to the state’s public education system.
The council is expected to provide other advice and information relevant to public education.
Chami teaches English, AP composition, AP literature and social justice at Fordson High School. She is also chair of the English Language Arts Department at the school. She earned her master’s degree in teaching and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Chami told The Arab American News that she was surprised and elated that the governor’s office chose her for this appointment. Members of her local school union suggested she apply for the position.
“I did not think I had much of shot,” Chami said. “I was actually in the middle of teaching when I got the call from the governor’s director of appointments, Ghida Dagher.
“I’ve only been teaching for eight years and there are superintendents and people with a lot of experience on that list of appointees, which makes this an even greater honor.”
In her capacity as one of many regional educational advisers to the governor, Chami said she wants to help shape a more just and equal educational policy in Michigan.
“What excites me about this opportunity is the chance to understand how policy effects our everyday interactions in the classroom,” she said. “I am also excited to have a voice and literal seat at the table and represent my community in Lansing’s educational policy framework.”
Chami said she believes it may be easy for teachers to lose sight of the impact policy makes on their teaching practices when they are on the front lines of public education in the state.
“The reason I wanted to be a public educator is because education is supposed to even the playing field,” she said. “For me education policy should be about equity. It should be about giving kids what they need to be successful, which may or may not be the same thing across the board.
“Education funding exists in a complex web and all too often this kind of equity may seem like a pipe dream. I want to contribute to a policy framework whereby the quality of a child’s education is not determined by their parent’s tax bracket.”
“Dearborn has a wonderful school district,” she added. “We also have a lot of economically disadvantaged students in our district and quite a few English language learners that need attention. The state in general is in drastic need of special education funding.”
Her hope is that this council can begin the healing process after years of neglectful policies crippled public education in the region.
“Far more important than having a vision for change, I want to ground my work in principles of justice in the public education system,” she said.
Her term expires on May 9, 2023.