89.1 WEMU

Michigan Superintendent Stepping Down To Focus On Cancer Battle

Mar 15, 2018

Michigan Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston
Credit State of Michigan / michigan.gov

State schools superintendent Brian Whiston is stepping down to concentrate on his battle with cancer.


Whiston was named superintendent in 2015 and set a goal of making Michigan one of the nation’s top 10 states when it comes to the quality of schools within 10 years.  He says plans that have been put in place to turn around struggling schools make that possible.

“They’re just now in progress,” he said, “and it’s just very sad to me that I won’t be part of seeing whether they all worked or not.”

Whiston says one of the most promising plans creates local consortiums of educators, businesses, foundations, and parents to help turn around 72 low-performing schools.

“You can’t just come up with a reform, implement it to 1.4 million kids, a thousand teachers, and expect it to happen overnight,” he said.  “These things take two, three, four years to implement and for us to see the change.”  

Whiston made the announcement at a meeting of the Michigan State Board of Education.  The board met in a closed session to review Whiston’s job performance.  The board gave Whiston a review of “outstanding,” and extended his contract by a year.

Whiston will take the next month or two to wrap up some projects, and then will go an an extended medical leave. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org