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Michigan's new diversity and inclusion director receives $130,800 salary

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is paying Rane Garcia above the top end of the posted salary range ($88,807-$129,506 per year) for the new position.

Updated: July 30, 2021 - 10:48pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is paying Rane Garcia $130,801 per year for a new position to lead the agency's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

MDE reported Garcia's salary in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Center Square.

in her new position, Garcia "will be responsible for developing and supporting internal and external efforts and strategies that foster greater fairness and inclusion in the state's public schools."

The job posting salary range was between $88,807 and $129,506.

The state justified her salary on the range's high end, citing her decades of experience as an educator in multiple leadership roles, states, districts, and her support of marginalized students.

Garcia served as superintendent for the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System since 2016, according to her LinkedIn profile. Garcia beat out 136 candidates for the position, five of whom reached the interview stage.

In June 2020, the State Board of Education resolved to "stand against any and all acts of racism, disrespect, violence, and inequitable treatment of any person," and cited the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The board's "anti-racism" initiative is expected to create an "Anti-Racism Steering Committee." MDE will execute a four-pronged approach of harnessing diverse student and educator groups to continually review and revise "curriculum, resources, training, policies, practices, and structures for inclusivity, equity, and help eradicate racism."

MDE employees will have to cultivate their "critical consciousness," receive implicit bias training, and facilitate "safe spaces" learning sessions for employees to converse about bias.

The hiring follows Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing a landmark $17 billion education package but line-item vetoing $155 million for struggling K-5 students who couldn't read. The new "anti-racism" initiative will be included in boosted spending that isn't necessarily aimed to recover learning loss after a year during which some students never saw the inside of a classroom, according to Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) Executive Director Beth DeShone.

"It is unfortunate that the Michigan Department of Education is adding to the education bureaucracy with a new position solely focused on the political topic of Critical Race Theory," DeShone wrote in an email to The Center Square.

"What Dr. Rice and the Department ought to spend their money and time on," she continued, "is directing resources to students and teachers that were academically and emotionally devastated during pandemic learning; those students that are struggling to read and do math; those students that were impacted by the decision of Governor Whitmer and school bureaucrats to lockdown schools for the last school year. Every Michigan student deserves the attention and support they need to help with their learning loss."

A new McKinsey report quantifies possible learning loss inflicted in just one year, and predicts that without "immediate and sustained interventions" the lost learning could slash average lifetime earnings by $49,000 to $61,000.

McKinsey notes that "students who move on to the next grade unprepared are missing key building blocks of knowledge that are necessary for success" and "students who repeat a year are much less likely to complete high school."

The analysis estimates the pandemic left K–12 students with significant learning loss, leaving students on average five months behind in math and four months behind in reading.

"High schoolers have become more likely to drop out of school, and high school seniors, especially those from low-income families, are less likely to go on to postsecondary education," McKinsey reported.

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