Dr. Pamela Pugh is a champion for kids and I was proud to see her sworn in as the second Black president of the Michigan State Board of Education – a position she said she doesn’t take lightly.
“It is an honor to serve the people of Michigan and especially in this capacity when we’re thinking about our most precious beings, our children across this state,” said Pugh.
She takes office at a significant moment: Her party now controls the state House, Senate, and executive branch for the first time in nearly four decades. She said the first thing on her agenda as President will be sitting down with her board members to discuss priorities for school success across the state.
"We have before us a great opportunity to fund our schools." - Dr. Pamela L. Pugh
“Making sure that our schools are adequately funded, that funding is going to the classroom, that funding is going into the paychecks of educators so that they don’t have to worry about how they eat themselves, making sure that our children have books, have the resources to succeed is my priority,” said Pugh.
Pugh, of Saginaw, MI, is a public health expert and an environmental health consultant who works with urban communities. She was first elected to the board in 2014 and most recently served as vice president.
She comes from a family of educators. er mother was a paraprofessional, ssor and administrator at Delta College, and her grandfather Millage Pugh built a one-room schoolhouse so Black children in Shubuta, Mississippi, could get an education.
Yvette White, president of the Michigan NAACP and a longtime friend, said Pugh will be a good advocate for children who need help the most.
“She’s always reaching out and speaking up on equity issues,” White said. “It’s important to always have someone at the table, to have a voice at the table, who is focused on the issues that are important to the community as a whole.”
Dr. Pugh has hit the ground running in her new position as President and has already made good on a campaign promise of making sure the third-grade reading retention rule is repealed. Over the years she has fought for kids to have clean water in Flint, a right to literacy in Detroit, and adequate ventilation systems in schools before returning to the classroom from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In addition to Michigan being victim to the politicization of education as seen across the country, the state has long been ranked at the bottom of all 50 states in terms of equitable funding, impacting children most in need and their educators. We are grateful for Gov. Whitmer’s historical budget passed just in July but there is still much work to do to close the learning gaps caused by the decades of dismantling of our public education system," said Pugh. "Now, we have before us a great opportunity to adequately fund our schools, repeal harmful policies especially those shown to most impact Black children, and ensure that teachers have the freedom to teach, and to make sure that all children regardless of race, religion, or gender identity have safe and welcoming learning environments. This is a new day and I look forward to working with our governor and Democratically led legislature."