Reading, writing, arithmetic and saving lives, Michigan schools to teach CPR

Capital News Service

LANSING – This year, in addition to math, science and history, students will also be learning how to save lives.

It is the first year that Michigan schools must teach students to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use automated external defibrillators. The law now mandates that between seventh and 12th grade, students must learn how to perform CPR to graduate from high school.

“This legislation brought Michigan in line with more than half of the country by ensuring all Michigan students learn the life-saving skill of CPR before graduation,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, the primary sponsor of the bill.

Thirty-seven states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, according to the American Heart Association.

Barb and Bill Rafaill, Albion residents, say they believe so much in the law that they donated CPR kits to schools in both Calhoun and Oceana counties to support it.

“I know lives can be saved,” Barb Rafaill said. “It’s just a matter of education.”

The survival rate after cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital is just 11 percent, often because bystanders do not know how to help, according to the American Heart Association. The agency’s hope is that the law will increase the number of people who can perform CPR and intervene in emergencies.  

“Approximately 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in residences, so this requirement will help put people with knowledge of CPR in the places where it’s most likely to happen,” said Cindy Bouma, the association’s communications director for western Michigan.

“If you increase the amount of people who are trained and capable of performing CPR, you increase the likelihood that a bystander will be able to intervene until emergency responders arrive,” Schuitmaker said.

Under the law, students will receive hands-only training, meaning they will learn chest compressions. They won’t be required to perform mouth-to-mouth, according to the association. Hands-only CPR can be taught in as little as 30 minutes, depending on class size, Bouma said.

Students will also learn how to use an automated external defibrillator. That is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart through the chest and can potentially allow a normal heart rhythm to restart after a cardiac arrest, according to the association.

Schools may use teachers or certified CPR instructors to teach the classes. Teachers do not have to be certified to teach CPR, but if schools want students to get a certification they must be taught by certified instructors. Teachers would need training, but schools can take advantage of volunteers such as paramedics and firefighters who have already been properly trained.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Shawn Walbecq, the kindergarten through 12th grade principal for Suttons Bay Area Public Schools. “The more people that know the techniques,  the better.”

Walbecq said he plans to use local services for teaching CPR in his schools.

“We’re a small community,” he said. “Local paramedics have kids who go to school here, and we have their support.”

The Michigan Education Association says the law is a good idea, but that schools should receive government funding to change curriculum and implement the training, said David Crim, a communications consultant for the union.  

The American Heart Association sells and lends kits to help teach the technique or they can get them from local paramedics or firefighters, Bouma said.

Barb Rafaill said she and her husband wanted to do something to bring more attention to the new law, and they encourage others to help the schools in their communities.

“It’s a wonderful idea that young people are being educated in CPR,” Barb Rafaill said. “We wanted to make a difference so schools didn’t have to buy them.”

The American Heart Association expects the training to greatly increase the number of people able to perform CPR.

“We estimate the program will add 100,000 newly trained people every year,” Bouma said. “In five or 10 years, think of how many people there will be who can perform CPR.”

Bills would create opioid education program for schools


Capital News Service

LANSING — In his 32 years of recovery from cocaine, marijuana and alcohol abuse, Rep. Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe, has seen coworkers, friends and constituents fall victim to his former vice.

Recently, he’s seen more preventable deaths than before, as the lure of opioids in his community has intensified.

“I being a man who lost a cousin a few years ago to a heroin overdose — it started with pills after a surgery. I have a small store in Monroe. I lost a bottle boy,” Bellino, who owns an alcohol shop, said. “He took opioids, he couldn’t get them anymore, he tried heroin and bam, he’s dead.

“It’s touched my city of Monroe big time. We’ve lost a couple of hundred of kids in the past 10 years.” Continue reading

Poet researched Great Lakes’ wrecks for new collection


Capital News Service

LANSING — A 200-pound ship’s radiator interrupted a funeral in 1922 when it plunged from the sky and into the Falk Undertaking Parlors on Military Street in Port Huron.

It came from the Omar D. Conger, a ship blown to pieces when its boiler exploded while docked at Port Huron.

“That part is accurate! It happened! And that’s just bizarre!” said poet Cindy Hunter Morgan, an assistant professor of creative writing at Michigan State University. “When I read that, I thought, I’ve got to build a poem around that.”

And she did. From that poem: Continue reading

Debates persist on best way to assess schools


Capital News Service

LANSING — What’s the best way to measure school performance?

Standardized testing? Which tests? How often?

Michigan is awash in contentious disputes over whether to repeal the basis for its standardized tests (Michigan’s Common Core standards), questions about the Common Core-based testing system, threats to close low-performing schools, the possibility of cuts in federal education funding and debates about the very effectiveness of statewide standardized testing

Education experts remain at odds over what educational success in Michigan would look like, how to best measure that success and how to achieve it.

Tim Webster, superintendent of Reed City Area Schools, said there needs to be better consensus on testing policies and priorities about which assessments schools should focus on. Continue reading

State, schools track bullying of minorities in Trump era

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Department of Civil Rights is working with local school districts to deal with racial and ethnic bias incidents arising after the November election.

In November, Civil Rights and the state Department of Education released a statement encouraging schools to review and revise their harassment policies and increase dialogue about diversity.

The election of Donald Trump as president was followed by high-profile incidents of intimidation that matched his political statements. Such rhetoric allows for more harassment to happen, said Roberto Torres, the executive director of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.

Some people see Trump’s statements on immigrants as permission for them to unleash long-held biases. Continue reading

Common Core defenders call out misconceptions

Capital News Service

LANSING — As bills to repeal Common Core school standards move through the Legislature, educators are trying to correct misconceptions they believe may have motivated the legislation.

The Common Core state standards – which set out what K-12 students should know at specific grade levels – were implemented across Michigan after the State Board of Education’s unanimous approval in 2010.

The proposal would terminate the current academic standards and replace them with standards used by Massachusetts schools from 2008-2009.

Supporters of the repeal, including 29 House members, say this switch would bring Michigan up to par with Massachusetts’ consistently high educational attainment scores – although after 2009, that state did join Michigan and 43 other states in implementing Common Core standards. Continue reading

Educators debate Snyder’s proposed cyber school cuts


Capital News Service

LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget pledged more state money to education, but that doesn’t apply to all schools.

Under Snyder’s proposal, online charter school funding would be reduced to 80 percent of the per-pupil subsidy that physical schools receive.

About $22 million would be transferred from publicly funded cyber schools to conventional brick-and-mortar institutes, a foundation grant exchange that has created controversy among Michigan educators.  

“The notion is, does it cost the same when someone is taking a class virtually compared to someone who is taking a class in a brick-and-mortar school?” Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Whiston said in explaining the rationale for the funding differences. Continue reading

Bills could mean even higher tuition at Michigan universities


Capital News Service

LANSING– Proposals in the House and the Senate to eliminate the state income tax could devastate Michigan’s public universities, already coping for years with dramatic drops in state support, a higher-education consortium says.

“You would see continued increases in tuition,” said Daniel Hurley, chief executive officer  of the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU). “The sky would fall.”

Funding for public colleges and universities in Michigan has declined for decades, and the institutions have raised tuition to maintain high-quality programs.

The state income tax represents 67 percent of the state’s general fund and 22 percent of public school aid fund, Hurley said. Phasing out the tax with no plan to replace the revenue could force universities to scale back on enrollment and new initiatives.

“Often when you have a discussion about higher ed, it’s about affordability,” Hurley said. “Quality is so important.” Continue reading

Income tax proposal could hurt community colleges


Capital News Service

LANSING — Things were different in the 20th century. Back then, there were all sorts of trade jobs available to high school graduates who just needed some extra training, and those careers were especially abundant in the thriving Michigan manufacturing sector.

Finish up school, learn the craft and trickle into the workforce -– that was the course for a happy middle-class existence.

But, for most people, it isn’t like that anymore.

“Michigan’s still a very heavily manufacturing-based economy. There’s still a lot of manufacturing in Michigan,” said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “It’s just that manufacturing has changed, where it has become more automated, more technical, more complex and requires therefore higher levels of skill. Continue reading

School Reform Office, under scrutiny, releases failing schools list


Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan’s controversial School Reform Office announced its updated list of “failing schools” on Jan. 20, even as legislators move to eliminate it.

Thirty-eight schools, most in Southeast Michigan, were identified as being in the bottom 5 percent for three years. The School Reform Office will review the failing schools over the next several weeks to decide if they should be closed. Geographic, academic  and enrollment capacity of other public school options for children attending one of the 38 failing schools will be examined.

The office, overseen by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, has been supervising identified “priority schools” since the Llegislature passed the “failing school” law in 2010.

Each year the Department of Education (MDE) releases a “top to bottom” list, which ranks schools on student performance in mathematics, English language, arts, science, social studies and graduation rate data. Continue reading