New reform legislation pushes schools of choice, outsourcing teachers

The Legislature is back in session Wed., Sept. 7 and expect them to quickly take up more of Gov. Snyder’s “education reform” plan.  Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chair of the Senate Education Committee, is pushing a package of bills that would require all public schools districts to participate in the schools of choice program and would allow Michigan public schools to hire teachers from private firms.

Pavlov said, “We have to expand choice to empower parents to make sure they get the very best education for their kids.”

Currently, schools of choice is voluntary with approximately 18 percent of the state’s 551 school districts choosing not to participate. Many school districts that do accept students from other school districts have restrictions based on factors such as grade level or available space. Under the proposed legislation, the Republican-led Legislature would impose uniform rules for how schools districts would be forced to accept non-resident students.

While details are sketchy, Pavlov’s legislation also includes the outsourcing of teachers. The private firms would bid against the teacher union contracts once they expire. Pavlov says it would allow schools to cut costs while still keeping the same level of teaching performance in the classroom. In other words, we could sell the education of students to the lowest bidder—and we have seen how well that’s worked for other school services.

Both pieces of Pavlov’s proposals undermine local control and public education with students, parents, school employees and school districts paying the ultimate price.

With each new piece of legislation, it becomes more obvious that none of these so-called “reform” measures are designed to better education, reign in spending or create jobs. Pavlov’s ideas simply reflect more of the same anti-union, anti-school employee, anti-middle class sentiment we’ve seen since this Legislature took office.

Pavlov’s package of bills is also expected to include the increase in the number of charter schools and more access to online courses—all elements of Gov. Snyder’s education reform plan he outlined earlier this year.