State Funding for Lower Income Students, Fudge and Pasties in the UP, NMU Changes Masking Policy, K-12 Mask Debate, and NMU Faculty Calls for Strike Authorization Vote

Rural Voices (8)

This Week in Rural Insights

On Wednesday we will be releasing a new episode of the Rural Insights Podcast, featuring Don Wotruba, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, one of Lansing’s biggest educational associations and one of the most powerful in the state.

Don grew up in the Upper Peninsula–Carney-Nadeau to be exact. You can read about Don’s upbringing in his Rural Voices piece if you haven’t yet.

In the podcast, Don discusses the educational policy work he is currently involved in–including managing the difficulties with mask mandates and other COVID-related policies that are controversial within communities and the tough decisions school districts are having to make.

Make sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel, and to “The Rural Insights Podcast” on your preferred podcast platform!

Please note: there will be no Whispers Column on Labor Day (Monday, September 6th).

State Funding for Lower Income Students as Students Return to Campuses

Concerned by a decline in college enrollment among low-income students, a broad coalition of Michigan business leaders, foundations and college advocacy groups is recommending changes to the state’s college financial aid programs.

“The proposals include a new $3,000 annual scholarship for low-income students, and incentives to nudge state colleges and universities to forgive student debt as a way to bring college dropouts back to campus,” reported Bridge Magazine.

“This advocacy group includes the Detroit Regional Chamber, The Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Michigan College Access Network and the Washington-based Institute for College Access and Success.

The coalition sent a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of public college appropriations committees in the House and Senate outlining tweaks to state aid that they argued would boost enrollment that has sagged during the pandemic.”

Will we see Upper Peninsula business and foundation leaders join in this effort? Nothing yet thus far.

Fudge and Pasties in the Upper Peninsula

Some recent research has reported that there are 13 fudge shops on the UP’s Mackinac Island. These shops, according to this research, produce 10,000 pounds of fudge per day.

So how many pasty shops are in the Upper Peninsula and how many pounds of pasties do they produce each day? Hmmmmm.

Any volunteers to do the research? If you already know the answer, let us know!

NMU Changes Masking Policy on Campus 

NMU has decided that all students, faculty and staff must mask up while in any campus building. No word yet on possible mandatory vaccine policy similar to what the University of Michigan has mandated.

UP K-12 School Districts Debate Masking Policies

While waiting for the Governor to maybe change her mind and issue a statewide masking policy, many school districts are hearing from parents in their districts about masking policy for their returning children.

We have heard from many Whisperers about their concerns in their school districts throughout the Upper Peninsula.

Rumors in Lansing are that the Governor is seriously considering issuing a statewide indoor mask mandate this coming week–including for school districts and higher education. 

Faculty Calls for Vote to Authorize a Strike

Northern Michigan University faculty (AAUP union) has called for a strike authorization vote by the faculty on September 2, 2021. The faculty union said this was not a vote to walk out on strike but a vote to authorize the AAUP Executive Committee to call a strike if necessary.

According to sources, the NMU AAUP Executive Committee was disheartened by what they claim was a factual misrepresentation in an email the President’s Office had sent to the entire campus.

NMU President Fritz Erickson earlier last week wrote an email to the campus laying out his views on the negotiations, and his differences with the union’s positions and allegations.

Erickson wrote that “some points of clarification are needed for the public commentary currently taking place.” He then laid out in several paragraphs his positions. 

The NMU faculty has been working without a contract as it began classes this past week. Negotiations continue. A mediator is working with both parties. No settlement in sight according to observers.

Seems like this issue is going round and round like a ferris wheel.

Quotes That May Make Us Go Hmmm

“There is no elegant way to lose a war.” Fareed Zakaria.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Books Recommended by our Readers

“Our Own Worst Enemy: America’s Rejection of Civic Virtue.” Tom Nichols. 2021

“A Distant Rumble: The Unnoticed, Unreported World of Grassroots Politics.” GT Long. 2021 (The Upper Peninsula’s GT Long has long been involved in UP and Michigan grassroots politics.)



bold fix

David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Jody Bailey on August 30, 2021 at 9:15 am

    I’m looking for the 2021 Tom Nichols book as titled in this week’s Rural Insights.


    Is this the book referenced?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Related Articles