Pavlov announces Great Lakes Town Hall

State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, has scheduled an open Town Hall on Friday, June 7 with special guests Jon Allan, director of the Office of the Great Lakes, and Dave Lorenz, Industry Relations & International Marketing manager of the Pure Michigan campaign. These experts will discuss how healthy Great Lakes and a robust tourism industry benefit Michigan’s environment and economy.

Residents of Michigan’s Thumb will be able to personally ask questions of the top authorities on the Great Lakes and tourism industries. The Pure Michigan campaign has continuously been voted the best state advertising campaign in the country. In 2012, it generated $5.76 for every dollar spent, and 3.8 million visitors generated $1.1 billion in revenue for Michigan businesses.

The local Mama Vicki's Coney Island will be serving FREE coney dogs for all who come to the event.

“We are excited to bring the director of the Office of the Great Lakes and manager of Industry Relations for Pure Michigan to Fort Gratiot County Park on the shores of Lake Huron,” Pavlov said. “You don’t have to look any further than the Blue Water area to take full advantage of all that Pure Michigan has to offer. I hope that this community discussion will benefit Michigan’s Thumb and build upon our continued growth and success.”

Great Lakes Town Hall Forum

Sen. Phil Pavlov
Jon Allan, director, Office of the Great Lakes
Dave Lorenz, manager, Industry Relations & International Marketing of Pure Michigan
General public

Friday, June 7, 2013
6 to 7:30 p.m.

Fort Gratiot County Park, South Pavilion
3325 Metcalf Road
Fort Gratiot Township, MI

Those unable to attend can contact Sen. Pavlov's office toll-free at (866) 305-2125. Make sure to check this website for the most up-to-date information.

Michigan Senate increases education funding by $490 million

State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, voted today to strategically increase the 2013-14 Education Budget by $490 million. This 3.3 percent increase over last year represents a total commitment of $15.1 billion to the state’s public schools.

“The Michigan Senate is committed to ensuring every student receives a quality education,” said Pavlov, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “This budget builds on strategic reforms we've already put in place, and invests revenue directly in the classroom.”

Pavlov voted to give K-12 education $417 million more in funding from last year. Over 45 percent of state tax dollars are going toward Michigan’s public schools, community colleges and universities. The overwhelmingly largest piece of state income and sales taxes goes to Michigan’s public education system.

Besides investing financially in our schools, Senate Republicans will also continue to push for more public school options so that parents can choose the best education for their children.

A new model for better evaluating Mich. teachers

By: State Sen. Phil Pavlov

The past couple of years have seen significant changes to Michigan’s state government, with no issue receiving more attention than our public education system.

For many years, Lansing did everything possible to shield schools from feeling Michigan’s economic woes, but ultimately everyone has been impacted by a decade of population, employment and revenue losses. To help schools manage their finances, Republicans in Lansing passed seven major cost-saving measures in 2011 alone. At the same time, we focused on quality academics across the entire system, with dozens of school accountability and transparency reforms passed in the 2011-2012 legislative session.

Of all the work accomplished, none was more valuable to foster effective teaching and school leadership than the overhaul of Michigan’s teacher evaluation and tenure laws. As part of those reforms, the Legislature formed the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness (MCEE), a temporary, independent commission of education experts chaired by the University of Michigan’s Deborah Loewenberg Ball. Since fall 2011, the MCEE has been developing recommendations for a fair and meaningful educator evaluation model, and its final report is expected next month.

Why does Michigan need a model evaluation system?

The quality of teachers and school administrators is so crucial to children’s educational achievement that it’s essential our schools — all of them — have effective tools to recognize and reward the best educators and identify and support those who are struggling.

Not enough Michigan students are achieving at high levels, and many others are failing to reach even minimum proficiency levels in basic subjects like reading and math. To prepare our children for life and work in the 21st century, we must ensure that our schools are honestly evaluating educators — from principals down to first-year teachers — and informing parents about their performance.

It’s also the right thing to do for educators, to elevate their profession and help them continually advance. Teachers, like other professionals, want to excel at their craft. Most of them chose teaching because of a noble desire to work with children and help them develop their unique talents and skills.

Reliable, meaningful feedback that helps teachers improve is good for them and good for students. Likewise, practices that encourage administrators to support their teachers with sound observation and appropriate professional development are good for the whole school.

Some school districts have already implemented successful evaluation methods, but others need help. A 2013 report by the non-profit Education Trust-Midwest calls high-quality systems a “rarity” in Michigan, and highlights Grand Blanc High School, near Flint. That school’s principal, Jennifer Hammond, sits on the MCEE, and believes robust evaluations are “transforming the culture” at her school. She credits teachers who bought into the process, became more collaborative, and now want even more feedback. This success is exactly what a statewide model can help all districts achieve.

The MCEE will recommend how best to measure student achievement growth, since that will eventually count as half the evaluation for both teachers and administrators. But to be truly fair, a system must take into account factors beyond educators’ control that can hinder student growth — like poverty. So the MCEE will also recommend a tool for value-added modeling, which measures more precisely an individual’s or school’s contribution to student growth. These are key components of first-rate systems.

In exchange for requiring more school accountability, the state’s responsibility is to provide research-based standards to guide local evaluation models and appropriate levels of support and oversight.

While we’re at it, we should consider how to incorporate other things that will drive improvement, like performance pay that rewards the most effective educators, or assigning schools simple A-F letter grades so parents can choose wisely between various education options.

Next month, as students graduate and families head off on summer vacations, the Legislature will begin considering the MCEE recommendations, examining other states’ best practices, and crafting a model for Michigan. One that is rigorous, but also fair and constructive.

From The Detroit News

Don’t hurt our state’s students by lowering curriculum standards

By: State Sen. Phil Pavlov

In 2006, Michigan boldly adopted a set of rigorous high school graduation requirements. The Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) resulted from extensive research by a statewide alliance of business and education leaders and a historic bipartisan legislative effort.

The previous standard was a mere half-credit of civics, letting a high school diploma mean very different things in different communities and too often leaving students’ educational fate to chance. The research showed our students were lagging their peers regionally, nationally and internationally in academic achievement, which in turn was affecting our work force development and economic vitality.

Michigan’s new curriculum was expertly designed to prepare all students — from Ecorse to Escanaba — for whatever future they might face in a rapidly shrinking, fiercely competitive world. Whether they chose a career or college path, they would be armed with subject knowledge, critical thinking skills, self-discipline and sense of accomplishment.

At the time, some argued requirements like Algebra II or foreign language were too difficult for some students or irrelevant to others’ goals. There were claims that the curriculum would have disastrous effects, but none of those fears has materialized. In fact, since implementation, graduation rates have risen, dropout rates have fallen and test scores have improved — which is why new efforts to weaken the MMC are misguided.

School districts who understood its necessity for both career and college readiness found ways to incorporate MMC content into all kinds of courses. Many began offering foreign languages in earlier grades, where the benefits to children are greater anyway.

Statewide, more students are exploring career-technical education, thanks to their schools’ creativity and accommodations made in the law to allow personalized curricula when appropriate. East Jordan Public Schools runs programs in automotive technology, drafting and design technology, furniture and wood making and more, all of which include at least one course that counts as college credit. Other districts have similar stories, with participation remaining constant or increasing since the MMC took effect.

Today, rigor and relevance remain vital. Other nations are outpacing us educationally and economically. Michigan has thousands of unfilled jobs, but it’s unclear whether the employment gap is at the college or high school level or outside the education system entirely. How does eliminating Algebra II or foreign language fill that gap?

This conversation is about many things. It’s about competitiveness — Michigan’s, certainly, but more importantly that of our students. It’s about producing a capable, well-rounded citizenry. It’s about instilling a love of learning and an appetite to tackle big challenges, and fostering the next round of ideas and inventions. It’s also about leadership, from one generation to the next. A hallmark of America has been each generation envisioning better things for those who follow. That noble selflessness should apply to education, too.

How many of us at age 16 were qualified to make lifelong decisions? It is a tricky balance honoring teenagers’ desires, while adequately preparing them for a future that could easily involve shifting goals or unexpected events.

We certainly should give students ample opportunity to pursue their interests, but we must also give them a solid educational foundation that affords them every opportunity for success later in life. With the right public policy, we can provide that opportunity on both ends, and I remain committed to working with Gov. Rick Snyder and my legislative colleagues to ensure we truly meet our children’s needs.

Click here to see the original editorial on the Detroit Free Press.

Pavlov to State Board of Education: Do Your Job

Lansing, Mich. – State Senator Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, today called on the State Board of Education to exercise better oversight of the state’s financially distressed public school districts.

At a meeting Tuesday, the board approved a resolution dealing with charter school lease agreements and other charter school finance-related minutiae, while ignoring the swelling deficits in school districts across the state.

“The State Board of Education needs to stop their partisan obsession with charter schools and focus on the problems they are responsible for.  Where has their oversight been in Pontiac and Buena Vista schools?” said Pavlov, chair of the Senate Education Committee.  “The board should be working to find preventive solutions to the mismanagement and fraud in these districts where local boards have misspent millions of taxpayer dollars and cost thousands of children the education they deserve.”

According to the Michigan Department of Education, Pontiac School District finished 2012 with at least a $30 million deficit, and Buena Vista Schools has a projected deficit of over $1 million for 2013.

Recent news reports have detailed serious mismanagement by these local boards, including the acceptance of state aid payments for discontinued programs in Buena Vista and a former Pontiac assistant superintendent sentenced for embezzlement of school funds.

Michigan’s Constitution clearly defines the duties of the state board to exercise leadership and general supervision over all public education – not just charter schools.  Consequently, the board has a constitutional obligation to monitor the financial health of school districts and act sooner to prevent these financial crises.