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Education reform plotting continues in state Senate committee this week

Plans to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools will see continued discussion this week in a state Senate committee.


State lawmakers have been working for weeks to overhaul how Michigan deals with struggling schools. The committee is currently trying to find the best ways to judge student performance, and grade schools.


Republican Senator Phil Pavlov is the chair of the Senate Education committee. He says lawmakers plan to form outlines of an education plan over the next few weeks. 

"Right now we’re getting input from all the stakeholders who want to weigh in and be part of a comprehensive solution for how we’re going to treat schools that are failing kids,” he said.


One of the bills up for discussion would get rid of the law that lets the state close chronically failing schools.


Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich said he is so far happy with the work the committee is doing. One of the bills up for discussion would repeal the “failing schools” law. Ananich said the policy was bad from the beginning.  

“I think just stopping this right now and saying we’re not going to close these schools, we’re gonna focus on success as opposed to continuing to focus six years on failure and then wondering why we have a failed system,” he said. “It’s just backwards and I hope that we come together and solve this problem.”


Governor Rick Snyder recently decided to delay the decision on which of the 38 chronically failing schools slated for potential closure would in fact close.


Pavlov said that was a victory for the committee.


“I think that that’s kind of an acknowledgement to the work we’ve been doing in our committees to say ‘we gotta get this right,’” he said. “You don’t just go closing schools without, firm clear understanding of how that student in that school is gonna get access to quality education outside of that building.”


The other area of focus is how schools are accredited.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R