Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives recently formed an education task force.
Representative John Kivela of Marquette is on the task force, and he brought the group to Marquette on Monday.
“We’re meeting and taking testimony from a variety of different people through the course of these meetings to find out what works, what doesn’t work, best practices, what we can do to make it better,” Kivela said.
Lake Superior State University president Dr. Tony McLain is a former superintendent of two U.P. school districts, Sault Ste. Marie and Superior Central.
He discussed his experiences with the task force, “not so much that I can tell them what to do, but more to provide them with background information that will help them in their decision-making,” he said.
McLain was discussing “what he believes works and doesn’t work in education, and that’s really what we’re after,” Kivela said. “Again, our education system is struggling in Michigan, and we owe it to our kids to find an answer.”
McLain and Kivela both believe that moving more and more K-12 education decision–making to Lansing isn’t working, whether the decisions involve money, curriculum or other areas.
“We should be putting that decision-making back in the local districts, because when Lansing makes a decision, it’s one size fits all, and one thing we know in the U.P. is when it’s one size fits all, it probably doesn’t fit us,” McLain said.
McLain says that struggling districts are plagued by a lack of parental and community involvement.
He says Superior Central displayed the opposite quality when the time came to construct its current building while he was superintendent there.
“You’re going to be obligated to pay, at that time, the highest debt retirement millage in the state, for 30 years,” McLain said. “You’re going to owe four times what you borrowed. And the people of that school district said, ‘let’s do it’. I mean, that’s a community stepping forward.”
By September, the task force should have a series of recommendations formed for the House Education Committee.