Booher talks education during coffee hour

State Sen. Darwin Booher holds a coffee hour Monday afternoon at the Manistee County Courthouse. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

State Sen. Darwin Booher holds a coffee hour Monday afternoon at the Manistee County Courthouse. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — A “coffee hour” suggests a time for casual conversation, no rigid structure nor predetermined topics to discuss.

State Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, recognizes the beauty of this type of atmosphere, which cuts to the core of representing one’s constituents.

“These are to get a feel for what people are thinking, and that’s the key to it,” he said Monday afternoon at a coffee hour held at the Manistee County Courthouse in observance of National County Government Month. “When you do these, you don’t come in with an agenda, you just sit down and listen to what the people have to say.

“Then, obviously, things will come up that I’ll certainly take back (to Lansing),” he added. “You really get a sense how the people of Manistee feel.”

A small group of Manistee County residents joined Booher in the Manistee County Board of Commissioners meeting room and touched on a wide range of topics during the casual two-hour session.

Education dominated much of the discussion early, namely a pair of bills Booher and his fellow education committee members will be examining closely this morning in Lansing.

“School was our biggie today,” he said of Monday’s coffee hour. “There are obviously a lot of concerns and issues there.”

Booher discussed, at length, Senate Bill No. 826, which would repeal and replace the Common Core curriculum standards and assessments in Michigan schools. His committee will hold a second hearing on the bill today and, Booher believes, will then likely move it to the Senate floor for a vote.

“I may be ready to move on from Common Core,” Booher said. “I think we’re ready to set standards locally, have our state standards set up by input from our own people. That’s where I’m at with that.”

In that discussion, Booher said keeping standards at a respectable height for students — especially for those looking to move on to higher education — is important.

“The thing I don’t want to have happen is our standards to be lowered to the point where a kid has a 4.0 in high school but can’t get into college,” he said. “That’s no good at all.”

A more specific bill concerning curriculum — House Bill No. 4493 — was also discussed by Booher Monday afternoon. The bill — already passed by the house — mandates that the “school district’s or public school academy’s social studies curriculum for grades 8 to 12 includes age- and grade-appropriate instruction about genocide, including, but not limited to, the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.”

Booher expressed his hesitation in voting for this bill, simply because of what he described as a “slippery slope” in mandating one genocide over another in history.

“I didn’t want to vote on that (today) yet,” he said. “The minute that I make it mandatory to study the Holocaust and Armenian genocides, then I think we need to study Native Americans, and what happened to them, and the slaughter there.

“It’s still a slippery slope for me. I don’t know if I’m ready to vote on that bill like it is, just because there’s a lot of things that should be taught. … I want to make sure we do that right, if we’re going to do it.”

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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