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EXCLUSIVE – Republican Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon said Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is responsible for a decline in the state’s education system, due in large part to her strict COVID policies, and for vetoing a number of bills that Dixon said would have helped improve literacy.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, Dixon detailed what she believed led to the “decline” in how the state was teaching its children, blamed Whitmer’s administration for causing the downturn, and outlined her plans to make Michigan’s education system one of the best in the country.
“I think it’s important that we talk about [Whitmer’s] record and what she has done to the state, and first and foremost our children – what’s happened in education,” Dixon said.
“Our kids were kept out of school for longer than most other states. In fact, if you talk to Republican governors, they would say blue states stayed out of school for twice as long as red states,” she added, referring to the extended shutdown of in-person learning statewide due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon speaks with Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie in an interview on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. (Brandon Gillespie)
Whitmer has faced sharp criticism for her approach to school closures throughout the pandemic, including for multiple shutdowns of in-person learning for students, and for encouraging schools to close again last year after the state experienced a spike in coronavirus cases.
Dixon claimed Whitmer’s actions dropped Michigan’s education quality to one of the worst in the nation, and argued it was time to get kids “back on track.”
“Overall, education has been in a steady decline in the state of Michigan. So now we’re down to 38th in the nation. But all the data shows that if we continue on the same path, that by 2030 we’ll be in the bottom five states in the nation,” she said.
“We have kids that are severely behind … Our literacy exams came back and this year we had a 50% failure rate of our third-graders,” she added, while also criticizing Whitmer for vetoing a number of bills from the state legislature that she argued would have helped raise Michigan’s literacy rate.
Dixon stressed the importance of parent involvement in the education of their children, and took a sharp tone on the teaching of controversial subjects like critical race theory (CRT).
Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visits the Ford Bronco off-road track during the Motor Bella 2021 auto show in Pontiac, Michigan, Sept. 21, 2021. (Reuters/Rebecca Cook)
“Our Detroit superintendent came out and said, ‘We’re deeply using CRT,’ and you’ll hear Democrats across the state saying it’s not being used, but we do have evidence from this article where the Detroit superintendent was quoted saying they’re deeply using CRT,” Dixon said.
Dixon was referencing a report from last year in which the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, Nikolai Vitti, said during a school board meeting that schools in his district were “deeply using critical race theory,” and that students must learn about historical injustice in the United States “to better understand who they are.”
“I think it’s important to bring some of those teachers out and talk to them and sit down with them and our legislature and say this is what they’re seeing in the classroom, because Detroit Public Schools just had a nearly 90% failure in literacy rates,” Dixon said.
She cited a conversation with a teacher who expressed concerned to her that there was so much effort going into teaching CRT that kids weren’t “getting to the basics of reading, writing and math.”
“Let’s sit down and have that conversation with people who are in the classroom saying, ‘This is how I think we give our kids the best possible future,’” Dixon said.
“Right now, we’re failing our kids. This is what we see as the root cause, and this is what we see as the corrective action and hear from the people on the ground talking to the kids every day and teaching them. I think we can come together from that standpoint and talk about it that way,” she added.
Tudor Dixon, Republican gubernatorial candidate for Michigan, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 25, 2022. (Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg)
Dixon faces a crowded field of Republican candidates, including businessman and chiropractor Garrett Soldano, businessman Kevin Rinke, real estate broker Ryan Kelley, and church pastor Ralph Rebandt.
She was endorsed by former President Donald Trump on Friday.
Primary elections in Michigan will be held Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.
Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_cg.