Open Letter to Michigan Parents

Dear Parents,

Stoni Ann Blair and Stephen Gage Berry were precious children with limitless potential, and their senseless deaths at the hands of their mother have shocked and saddened the entire state of Michigan.

Mitchelle Blair, the Detroit woman accused of killing Stoni and Stephen and then hiding their bodies, is a murderer who deserves, at best, to spend the rest of her life in prison.

This tragic situation is not, and never was, however, a homeschooling problem.

That’s why I am so dismayed by the introduction of a new bill in the state House of Representatives to exploit Stoni and Stephen’s tragic deaths as an excuse to impose new regulations on loving, committed, and law-abiding Michigan families.

Let’s be clear-this legislation would not have stopped Ms. Blair from killing her children. Blair was willing to break every law on the books, and routinely and effectively lied for years to hide her crimes.

Instead, the new bill is a transparent attempt by some in Lansing to bully, threaten, and intimidate parents who choose not to send their children to traditional public schools. The legislation would force every homeschooling family to register with local officials and to open their homes twice yearly for police inspections, to prove that they have not murdered their own children.

Parents have rights. Parents deserve choices. And parents deserve so much better from Lansing.

As the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee I wanted to write you today to assure you that this anti-parent legislation will not see the light of day in my Committee.

Parents who choose homeschooling as the best education option for their children lovingly pour themselves into their kids, and they get great results. Homeschooled children are among the most successful in the state, go on to attend colleges and universities, get and keep great jobs, and help lead our communities.

Every child learns differently, and no one understands the needs of a child like his or her parents. That’s why when it comes to making education decisions for their children, or for choosing the kind of education that will work best, Lansing should trust parents, not bully them.

Sincerely,

Senator Phil Pavlov
Chairman, Senate Education Committee

Governor signs Pavlov, Casperson bills banning use of drones to harass hunters or take game

LANSING—Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Tuesday that outlaws the use of certain unmanned aerial or submersible vehicles to harass or stalk hunters or anglers and ensures that such vehicles can’t be used to take game.

Senate Bills 54 and 55, now Public Acts 12 and 13 of 2015, 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.

“These laws help protect the integrity of the sport,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Michigan has already banned computer-assisted hunting to help preserve the purity and the challenge of hunting game. These similar laws now ban the use of remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft to locate wildlife in order to shoot and kill them.”

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.

“These measures 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, and I am pleased that they have now been signed into law,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “The goal of these laws is to ensure that fair hunting practices are used, while also making sure 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.

Note: For a print-quality version of this or other Pavlov photos, click the image or click the Photowire link under the Media Center tab, above.

Detroit News guest editorial: Mich. could lead in STEM certification

The following opinion editorial was printed by the Detroit News on April 8, 2015. The piece can also be read online at: www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2015/04/08/sens-pavlov-proos-stem/25419401.

Proos, Pavlov: Mich. could lead in STEM certification

Michigan has one of the nation’s most comprehensive sets of high school graduation requirements, designed to set high goals for our students and to help them reach those goals.

Since their implementation, graduation rates have risen, dropout rates have fallen and test scores have improved.

But in the most recent international student assessment, the U.S. remained behind the world in student achievement. In fact, our students were outperformed by those in 29 nations and provinces in math; by 22 in science; and by 19 in reading.

We have long supported an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in our schools, because these robust areas of study are critical to the future of our nation and in preparing future generations for success.

These fields are some of the most rigorous education paths a person can take. Unfortunately, not nearly enough minds are being applied to them.

Computer science and engineering majors still account for less than 1 of every 10 college degrees in the U.S., while the demand for employees with these skills continues to grow each year.

We need to support children who desire to become scientists, engineers and mathematicians. It is vital to important industries, such as defense and automotive industries, that we have bright minds entering these fields.

We also recognize that education is not one-size-fits-all. That is why we have worked hard to ensure that our students can pursue the path that best challenges them and meets their needs and goals for their education and career.

STEM education, along with other worthwhile pursuits, plays an important role in that effort.

We have joined together with Rep. Amanda Price to introduce legislation to help give Michigan students a leg up on getting a job in a high-skilled career or continuing their education.

Our measures would allow a student, who wishes it, to receive a STEM certification on their high school diploma. The endorsement would also be visible on student transcripts for future technical training, community college and college application review.

Michigan could be the first state to institute such a STEM certification opportunity.

The measures build on a newly enacted law that strongly encourages schools to establish programs that award credit toward a college degree or an industry-recognized professional certificate.

We are proud that our state is giving students a chance to focus their study on these key fields, and this certification is an excellent way to highlight a student’s accomplishments.

STEM education keeps all Michigan’s rigorous academic and testing standards and requirements, while giving students the opportunity to go above and beyond these requirements.

Both the new law and this new initiative are part of an ongoing effort to ensure all students are given the education they need to be successful, obtain a well-paying job and lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

We’ve achieved much to build a stronger, more vibrant Michigan. Nearly 400,000 private sector jobs have been created in four years and unemployment has been reduced by more than half, from a high of 14.2 percent in 2009 to 5.9 percent today — the lowest it has been since 2001.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than 250,000 STEM-related jobs in Michigan in the next two years.

While our future is bright, we still face challenges. Our initiative is the next step in ensuring that we help prepare Michigan students for success and also meet the skilled workforce needs of a growing economy.

By giving students this certification option, we will encourage them to pursue difficult subject matters that will enrich their lives, our state and our nation.

State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District.

State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, represents the 25th District.