A recent Education Trust-Midwest report on charter authorizers made waves in education-advocacy circles last week, with poor marks for many groups that oversee Michigan’s K-12 charter schools. Governor Rick Snyder’s upcoming education summit in Detroit should bring the topic of charter school regulation to the fore.

Phil Pavlov, chair of the Michigan Senate Education Committee, and Amber Arellano, Executive Director Education Trust-Midwest, join hosts Stephen and Laura to discuss charter school authorizers and how to improve Michigan education policy.

Senator Pavlov says there is decent news coming on the budget front for schools, including around a $75 per-student bump. He says when he talks to school administrators about what they want for their districts, they say it’s all about more control.

“They want to control their own destiny,” Pavlov says. “We have 552 school districts and we are a heavily governed school system and they want to be able to take full advantage of that autonomy, if you will… I’m with them on it. I think that the control and the decisions are best made closest to the students. That’s what their asking for.”

Arellano the conversation about charter schools must move away from whether they are good or bad in concept, and instead, she says, it should be about improving schools and providing more quality choices.

“We looked at one neighborhood on the east side of Detroit and imagined ourselves as a parent in that area,” Arellano says. “We found in one neighborhood that parents’ there have more than 40 schools to choose from, but only two of them even pass a minimum quality bar in terms of student achievement. So the problem is not achievement, the problem is we don’t have enough good schools.”

Pavlov and Arellano both say they expect the Governor will focus on third grade literacy during his upcoming education summit. Pavlov also expects the Governor will talk about skilled trade education.

“You’ll hear him talk about skilled trades, career tech education training and removing that gap between high school and either post-secondary or certificate level,” says Pavlov. “…You should be continually learning and more importantly moving to something that’ll get you paid.”