Pavlov and Price challenge legislators to read to 1,000 students

LANSING—State Sen. Phil Pavlov and Rep. Amanda Price on Thursday called on their colleagues in the Senate and House with a challenge to read to 1,000 students in honor of March is Reading Month.

“A lifelong love of reading is essential for a balanced and successful life, and fostering this love in students at a young age leads to greater achievements at all levels of their education,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “It is a great joy to go into the classroom and read to kids. I look forward to visiting schools again over the next several weeks, and I urge my fellow lawmakers to take up the challenge as well.”

Legislators are challenged to visit local schools and read to at least 1,000 students to promote the annual March is Reading Month and to pass along a love for learning to Michigan’s youngest residents. If each lawmaker completes the challenge, a total of 148,000 students could be read to during the 31-day period.

“It’s vital to begin building a strong learning foundation at a young age,” said Price, R-Park Township. “Reading to children early in life and encouraging them to become active readers will help build that foundation and give students the tools they need to succeed in their educational endeavors.”

About one in six children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. Encouraging students to read and teaching the basics of language is a vital step on the path to a brighter Michigan future.

Gov. Rick Snyder emphasized the importance of focusing on reading proficiency by the third grade in his State of the State address, and Pavlov and Price said this is a wonderful opportunity to help guide students toward that goal.

Educators who would like to schedule a time for Pavlov to read to students can call toll free at (866) 305-2125 or via email at OfcPPavlov@senate.michigan.gov. Price’s office can be reached toll free at (888) 238-1008 or by email at AmandaPrice@house.mi.gov.

Note: Audio remarks from Pavlov are available for broadcast from this website. Click on Audio under the Media Center tab, above.

Mich. needs strong education superintendent

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

An editorial from Sen. Pavlov that first appeared in the Detroit News

Michigan is about to get a new superintendent for public instruction for the first time in almost 10 years. Many people don’t even know about this position, provided for in our state constitution, but it is important. Here’s why.

Besides being the face of public education in Michigan, the superintendent takes the laws written by the Legislature and signed by the governor, and implements them with policies — the “devil in the details” — for the public schools our students attend.

He, or she, is also a non-voting member of the state board of education, manages about 500 employees in the Michigan Department of Education, administers about $1 billion annually in federal funding, and interacts with the U.S. Department of Education on Michigan’s behalf.

That’s a lot of influence over public education in Michigan, both academically and financially.

Ideally, the governor would be appointing this cabinet member, but under Michigan’s current structure, the state board of education will be making this decision. It’s imperative they get it right, since so much responsibility rests on this individual’s shoulders.

For starters, let’s hope they pick a visionary leader. Someone who recognizes the changes needed to move Michigan’s education system toward national prominence. Someone who understands and can adapt to the shifting dynamics of education delivery. Someone who will look 10, 20 years into the future, set goals, develop a comprehensive plan for improvement, build consensus and lead the way forward.

Next, let’s hope they appoint someone with a willingness to build strong, productive relationships with the state House and Senate. As the Michigan Supreme Court has stated, “The Legislature has had the task of defining the form and the institutional structure through which public education is delivered in Michigan since the time Michigan became a state.”

Michigan needs a superintendent who will honor the legislative intent behind the laws the people’s representatives write, and who will manage the department to implement those laws with fidelity. The right person for this role is someone who understands and respects the constitutional roles of the legislature, governor and board, and who will use the powers vested in him or her to broker constructive relationships between them.

Let’s hope the next state superintendent will truly believe in, not just acknowledge, Michigan’s long-standing tradition of local control and school choice. This means trusting local districts and charter schools to do what’s right by students. It especially means trusting parents, who certainly know their children’s needs and almost always have their best interests at heart.

Finally, let’s hope the final candidate is able to forge solid working relationships across the entire system, with everyone from educators at the local level right up to the governor. It should be someone who is willing to hear all perspectives, and who is skilled at articulating a vision for pulling those perspectives together into meaningful action. Someone who will communicate proactively and foster a collaborative approach between the department and education stakeholders.

The position of state superintendent can play a key role in achieving excellence for our students, and any partisanship in the selection process must be put aside to do what’s right.

State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, chairs the Senate Education Committee and represents the 25th District.

Senate passes expansion of successful jobs training program

LANSING—The Michigan Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would expand the Michigan New Jobs Training Program (MNJTP), a successful statewide initiative established in 2008 to promote job growth and provide skilled training to workers through local community colleges.

The MNJTP lets community colleges statewide create a training pool through flexible financing mechanisms to support employers who are creating jobs or expanding operations in Michigan. Senate Bills 69–71 would remove certain technical restrictions to allow the program to grow.

“The Michigan New Jobs Training Program has been a great success, producing nearly 12,000 new jobs since its inception,” said the sponsor of SB 71, Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “The program brings together educators, students eager to be trained for skilled jobs, and employers looking to hire. This package of bills will remove some of the program’s arbitrary restrictions and maximize its job-creation potential.”

Under the program, training for newly hired workers is paid by capturing the state income tax associated with the new employees’ wages and redirecting it to a local college, instead of to the state. These new jobs must pay at least 175 percent of the state minimum wage in effect at the time the agreement is entered into. Once the training costs are paid off, the new employee’s income tax withholding will go to the state and become state revenue.

“The Michigan New Jobs Training Program has done a great job helping job providers collaborate with community colleges to create training programs that connect today’s students with tomorrow’s jobs,” said Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, sponsor of SB 69. “This legislation improves the program by allowing more colleges to participate in the future and by ensuring graduates receive a competitive wage when they enter the workforce.”

The MNJTP generated more than $76 million in additional earnings and 2,266 new jobs in 2012 alone, according to a report issued in 2013 by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG), an independent economic research and consulting firm based in East Lansing. Going forward, the AEG study projects the MNJTP annually to generate $143 million in additional earnings and more than 4,700 jobs.

“This collaborative program between community colleges and businesses has shown great success in preparing workers for jobs that companies are waiting to fill,” said Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, who sponsored Senate Bill 70. “These bills will ensure community colleges are able to participate and train workers going forward by eliminating a previously established cap in the existing law. Doing so will mean fewer companies will be waiting for qualified employees.”

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) is one of the schools taking part in the program. The college has partnerships with SMR Automotive of Marysville, Grace Engineering of Memphis and Eissmann Automotive of Port Huron.

Dr. Kevin Pollock, president of SC4, testified last week before the Senate Education Committee about the value of the program to St. Clair County and the Thumb region. He touted the program’s direct benefits, including 189 eligible new jobs resulting from MNJTP agreements with SMR Automotive, Grace Engineering, and Eissmann Automotive.

“Not only does this program help create jobs, it also provides superior training for employees,” Pollock said. “This targeted training eliminates the skills gap by providing employees with the precise skills they need to match employers’ needs. In addition, the program’s emphasis on local involvement helps educators and employers work together to benefit their communities.”

In the past, representatives of Northwestern Michigan College and General Motors Co. have testified before the Education Committee in support of the MNJTP, as have Magna International Inc. CEO Frank Ervin and SMR Automotive’s Marysville facility Managing Director Sai Tatineni.

The committee has also heard from WABCO North America, a tier-one automotive supplier in Rochester Hills that partners with Oakland County Community College, and Johnson Controls of Holland, which holds an MNJTP contract with Grand Rapids Community College.

Senate Bills 69–71 have been sent to the Michigan House for further consideration.

Note: Audio remarks from Pavlov are available for broadcast from this website. Click on Audio under the Media Center tab, above.

Senate approves Pavlov, Casperson bills banning use of drones to harass hunters or take game

LANSING—The Michigan Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would outlaw the use of certain unmanned aerial or submersible vehicles to harass or stalk hunters or anglers and ensure that such vehicles can’t be used to take game.

Senate Bills 54 and 55, sponsored by Sens. Tom Casperson and Phil Pavlov, were introduced following news articles quoting anti-hunting groups encouraging the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—sometimes called “drones”—to stalk or spy on hunters. In working on the legislation, sportsmen also asked that the bills prohibit the use of UAVs while hunting to comply with what some call “fair chase” policies.

“Using remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft to locate wildlife in order to shoot and kill them is not sport,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “We passed legislation several years ago banning the practice of computer-assisted hunting in Michigan. This was to help preserve the purity and the challenge of hunting game. These bills will continue these same types of protections.”

Pavlov said using UAVs in hunting became an issue in Alaska after wildlife officials there learned that a moose was killed by a hunter using such an aircraft. That incident prompted the Alaska Board of Game to unanimously pass a regulation outlawing the practice.

“This measure will help protect the integrity of a tradition that is a way of life for many residents of the Upper Peninsula and the state of Michigan,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “While we want to ensure that fair hunting practices are used, we also want to be certain that those who routinely attack hunting are not able to harass or attack hunters for no reason other than to promote their own anti-hunting agendas.”

Colorado and Montana recently outlawed the use of UAVs for hunting, while two other states, Idaho and Wisconsin, have existing prohibitions on the use of aircraft to hunt wildlife.

SBs 54 and 55 have been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.