Senate approves Pavlov-led bills to cut red tape for schools

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate passed legislation Thursday that would greatly reduce red tape for public schools across Michigan.

Sen. Phil Pavlov, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and lead sponsor of the legislative package, said Senate Bills 754-767 would eliminate unnecessary and redundant paperwork and streamline reporting requirements.

“Red tape in any organization means wasted time and frustration, but this kind of bureaucracy for our schools — specifically the red tape of endless forms and reports — is even more serious because it takes away from learning,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Reducing these burdensome requirements means educators can spend more time focusing on student achievement.”

The legislation has been widely praised by statewide education leaders as helping schools redirect their attention to the important task of educating students. The Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) considers it a top priority for their membership.

“There are more reports than there are school days for school districts,” said Brad Biladeau, MASA’s associate executive for government relations. “We’ve heard from school districts that have hired or designated individuals whose sole function is to respond to these state and federal reports.”

Michigan school districts are mandated to prepare and submit hundreds of reports to state and federal entities. These reports can be time-consuming and tedious to produce and are often redundant or even obsolete by the submission date.

Education reporting requirements are sprinkled throughout Michigan law — not just in the state’s education code. Unfortunately, there is no published comprehensive index to easily locate all mandated reports, and these reports are costly, often taking a great deal of staff time and resources.

“The bills we passed today direct valuable school resources toward the classroom rather than Lansing,” Pavlov said. “Educators will be able to spend less time on paperwork and more time teaching our kids.”

SBs 754-767 now head to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.

Pavlov, Senate Education Committee pass Common Core repeal-replace bill

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 826, a measure to repeal the Common Core State Standards in Michigan.

“It is time to end the disastrous national experiment that is Common Core and let Michigan manage its own destiny to achieve excellence in our education system,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “This bill sets quality, Michigan-controlled standards that give our schools consistency for the future and give local communities a voice in their children’s education.”

SB 826 would repeal the state’s current Common Core standards and replace them with the Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards. It would also direct state officials to align state testing with the new standards and require them to honor parents’ right to opt out their child from the state test.

The committee heard lengthy testimony from parents, educators and education experts, including Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, who helped develop but ultimately rejected the Common Core State Standards in Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards are the only standards with empirical evidence to support their effectiveness,” Stotsky said.

Massachusetts has been widely praised for a number of years as the best state for education. A 2014 report by the group Business Leaders of Michigan found Massachusetts’ performance to be leading all other states, and the same year the Education Trust-Midwest said, “No state is perfect, but Massachusetts is as close as it gets.” Those results were accomplished under Massachusetts’ pre-Common Core standards.

“Replacing Common Core will put children at the center of Michigan’s education system, return control to local school boards and communities, and raise expectations for our students to better equip them to be good citizens,” Pavlov said.

SB 826 now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

State Senate considers abandoning Common Core Standards, and some local educators agree

From the Huron Daily Tribune

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING — The state Senate Education Committee heard testimony this week on a bill that would wipe away the Common Core Standards in Michigan, which in the long run, would cut back the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests.

Common Core Standards is an educational initiative that details what students in grades kindergarten through 12th should know in English language arts and math by a certain grade level.

Senate Bill 826 would ultimately, “terminate all plans, programs, activities, efforts and expenditures relating to the implementation of the educational initiative commonly referred to as the common core standards.”

Following a Senate Education Committee meeting earlier this week, Committee Chairman Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, issued a statement on Common Core and the need for Senate Bill 826.

“It’s absolutely wrong the way Common Core was imposed on the states,” Pavlov stated. “States and local school districts — not the federal government — should be in charge of education policy.”

If the bill were to pass, the state academic content standards would be changed to the same academic standards that were in effect in Massachusetts during the 2008-09 school year.

“The Massachusetts Standards have been proven effective for educating students,” Pavlov stated. “These standards use education practices familiar to parents, are internationally benchmarked and competitive, are developmentally appropriate and are not politically biased.”

From a local perspective, a few superintendents said last year’s testing was overkill for their students.

“The initial idea I think was a good one,” said Harbor Beach Superintendent Lawrence Kroswek. “… The idea was everybody should be teaching the same thing, the same way at the same time.”

“They were testing students for the wrong reasons,” he added. “It was about testing students to evaluate teachers. You test a student to use the results to help improve instruction.”

Last year, juniors at Harbor Beach High School were busy — 11 hours of testing busy.

“There were (elementary school) children that were just plain tired of testing and they just gave up,” Kroswek said.

Even though the students were pushed to the limits with tests, the district still did well and Kroswek credited the success to his staff.

“We’re fortunate to have a very strong staff,” he said. “Our teachers are very good at prioritizing at each grade level and very good at helping with the transition from grade level to grade level.”

Bad Axe and Caseville Superintendents, Greg Newland and Ken Ewald, respectively, both said the amount of testing done was an “overkill” for students.

“I wish that this would become more of a local controlled decision when it comes to assessment and curriculum,” Newland said. “We obviously need to have an assessment that the school can look at student data, such as, what are individual needs and system needs.”

Ewald’s outlook was much like Newland’s — a local look.

“Somehow we need to focus in on what we should be teaching our children in the Thumb and not a national outlook,” Ewald explained. “I definitely believe that right now, the testing is overkill. I think the testing we do is taking too much time away from their teaching time in the classroom.”

Ewald said the curriculum should expose children to subjects that surround them. For example, a district in Houston, Texas, and a district in Pigeon, Michigan, should have curriculums that reach more of its students’ needs versus a curriculum with a national perspective.

“A constant change in the statewide curriculum is not good for the education process,” he added.

Pavlov issues statement on bill to replace Common Core

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on Senate Bill 826, a measure to repeal the Common Core State Standards in Michigan.

After committee, Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, issued the following statement on Common Core and the need for SB 826.

“It’s absolutely wrong the way Common Core was imposed on the states. States and local school districts — not the federal government — should be in charge of education policy.

“Not surprisingly, Common Core has been a disastrous national experiment. It is failing in the classroom, frustrating parents, short-changing students and usurping local control.

“It is time to set quality Michigan standards that put our schools and local communities back in control of education policy.

“Senate Bill 826 would repeal the state’s current, failed Common Core standards and replace them with the Massachusetts pre-Common Core standards. It would also direct state officials to align state testing with the new standards and require them to honor parents’ right to opt out their child from the state test.

“The Massachusetts Standards have been proven effective for educating students. These standards use education practices familiar to parents, are internationally benchmarked and competitive, are developmentally appropriate, and are not politically biased.

“A 2014 report by the group Business Leaders of Michigan found the Massachusetts Standards to be the best on every measure.

“Replacing Common Core will put children at the center of Michigan’s education system, raise expectations for Michigan students and better equip them to be good citizens.”

Pavlov announces fifth committee hearing on Michigan’s academically failing schools

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, announced Monday that the Michigan Senate Education Committee will conduct its fifth hearing on Michigan’s academically failing schools on Tuesday, April 19.

Who:
•    State Sen. Phil Pavlov, chairman of the Senate Education Committee;
•    Senate Education Committee members;
•    Mike DeVault, superintendent, Macomb Intermediate School District; and
•    Randy Liepa, superintendent, Wayne County Regional Education Authority.

What:
DeVault and Liepa will provide testimony related to the committee’s ongoing examination of Michigan’s current policies for addressing chronically academically failing schools.

When:
Tuesday, April 19, at 8:30 a.m.

Where:
Room 110, Farnum Building
125 W. Allegan St.
Lansing, MI 48933

Port Huron Times Herald op-ed: Let’s give communities the tools to keep talent home

The following op-ed was printed by the Port Huron Times Herald on April 13, 2016. The piece can also be read online at the Times Herald website.

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

By Sen. Phil Pavlov
25th Senate District

As a parent I get it — there’s not much tougher than watching our kids grow up, get a great local education, then leave our communities just to find a job. That was the sad reality that faced thousands of families for the better part of a decade.

We’ve taken some important steps to reverse that trend across Michigan, and we’re seeing the numbers change. We’ve created jobs, cut taxes, and eliminated more than a thousand rules and regulations that were strangling innovation and sending our kids scrambling for opportunities in other states.

But Lansing still hasn’t done enough. The Times Herald recently covered some of my efforts to change that (“Foundation launches ‘reverse scholarships,’” March 23). I’ve been proud to spearhead efforts to equip groups like the Community Foundation of St. Clair County to provide “reverse scholarships” to bring college graduates with in-demand training in science, technology, engineering, arts or math back to the Thumb to live, work, and create a life.

While it’s important to bring folks with college degrees back to our communities, we shouldn’t miss another important opportunity — the chance to bring the college degrees to our hometown schools so local talent never has to leave in the first place.

The Cherry Commission and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recommended that community colleges be given the power to confer certain bachelor’s degrees, and this became possible under a bill signed into law in 2012.

St. Clair County Community College is an incredible local resource that’s better positioned than ever before to offer four-year degrees right here in the Thumb.

Students in the Thumb could get an education employers are looking for and they could do it more cost effectively than if they packed their bags and moved out to a traditional four-year institution. Community college tuition is often one-third the cost of the average tuition at a university, and the tuition in the third and fourth years of these programs would still be less expensive than it would be if the program were offered at a university.

In addition, this option would enable students to live in the community and work while earning a degree. Access is often easier at community colleges than it is at universities because of less commute time.

Many community colleges have made financial and infrastructure investments that four-year institutions often find difficult to make. And many programs offered by community colleges are not usually offered by universities. In other words, they provide options to students that can meet a demand that is currently not being met.

We’ve heard talk locally for years about converting St. Clair County Community College to a four-year university, but under this law, we could bring the degrees to the community instead.

In recent years I have also championed expanding the ability of students to dual enroll in college courses as a way to help address the cost of higher education, put families and students first, and help young people stay in the community and make communities stronger.

A package of bills also signed into law in 2012 has made it easier for non-public-school students and younger students to dual enroll, and it has allowed public high school students to take technical college courses earlier than before.

It’s an exciting time to live and work in the Thumb.

Reverse scholarships, offering four-year degrees at community colleges, and promoting dual enrollment are all ways to expand higher education and community development opportunities in the Thumb.

They’re options that keep families and communities together, and they’re growing our local economy, too.

Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, is chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He serves the residents of the 25th Senate District, representing Huron, Sanilac and St. Clair counties; and Armada Township, Memphis, New Baltimore, Richmond and Richmond Township in Macomb County.

Senate committee approves Pavlov-led bills to cut red tape for schools

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would greatly reduce red tape for Michigan public schools passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Sen. Phil Pavlov and other Senate Republicans sponsored Senate Bills 754-767 to eliminate unnecessary and redundant reports and streamline reporting requirements. The bills have been widely praised by statewide education leaders as helping schools redirect their attention to the important task of educating students.

“Schools should be focused on student achievement, not bureaucratic paperwork for Lansing,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “This legislation removes red tape barriers and empowers schools to spend their time and resources on teaching students.”

Michigan school districts are mandated to prepare and submit hundreds of reports to state and federal entities. These reports can be time-consuming and tedious to produce and are often redundant or even obsolete by the submission date.

Education reporting requirements are sprinkled throughout Michigan law — not just in the state’s education code. Unfortunately, there is no published comprehensive index to easily locate all mandated reports. These reports are costly, often taking a great deal of staff time and resources.

The bills now head to the full Senate for further consideration.

Pavlov announces fourth committee hearing on Michigan’s academically failing schools

Sen. Phil Pavlov

Sen. Phil Pavlov

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, announced Monday that the Michigan Senate Education Committee will conduct its fourth hearing on Michigan’s academically failing schools on Tuesday, April 12.

Who:
•    State Sen. Phil Pavlov, chairman of the Senate Education Committee;
•    Senate Education Committee members; and
•    Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and executive editor of Education Next.

What:
Michael J. Petrilli will provide an overview of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and commentary related to the committee’s ongoing examination of Michigan’s current policies for addressing chronically academically failing schools.

When:
Tuesday, April 12, at 9 a.m.

Where:
Room 210, Farnum Building
125 W. Allegan St.
Lansing, MI 48933