Even top educators are walking away
The “school district for wayward schools”, Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, has been under increasing scrutiny over the past year. Questions have been raised about the veracity of their testing and test scores. State legislators on the Education Committee have raised red flags only to be told they have to file Freedom of Information Act requests to get the information they need to make a realistic assessment of the EAA’s performance. Here’s Rep. Ellen Cogen-Lipton from my interview with her earlier this year, talking about the Republican effort to expand the EAA:
As the minority vice-chair, I asked a series of questions like, “Okay, if the EAA, at least in these 15 schools, is doing what you say they are doing, could you please show us the evidence? Because it doesn’t seem to be jiving with what we’re hearing.” … They’re saying students are getting X amount of growth. Well, what we’re hearing from psychometricians from Wayne State University who have actually reviewed the test data, they’re telling us that that’s not possible because the same cohort of students that took the test in February were not those that took the test in October. There were too many structural deficiencies in the testing that made the data completely unusable. So why are you coming here telling us that this.
The message was, at least from my standpoint, that if you have discovered the “magic bullet” and you have found out how to build the better mousetrap, then you should at least be able to articulate what it is you have done.
That isn’t the case and the Democrats on the committee became very frustrated because the response from Dr. Covington was, “Just trust me. I’m telling you that this is what we’re going to do and this is the solution. And, not only do you have to trust me, but you now have to embed it in state statute.”
Not only have EAA administrators been evasive and failed to produce evidence to support their claims of success, they have been found to be leaving special needs students behind.
All of this has led to a number of teachers groups to boycott student teachers from EMU’s education program. Why? Because EMU is has partnered with the EAA since 2011 and is, in fact, the only one of Michigan’s 15 public universities to do so.
Additionally, EMU faculty members have protested their employer’s involvement in the EAA:
Last September, Camron wrote a resolution that he presented to the EMU Board of Regents asking the university to end its agreement in the EAA—but the motion was tabled. A group of 20 EMU faculty members signed a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the same effect.
“We haven’t been able to get the regents to budge,” Camron said. “The pedagogy of the EAA is not right.”
The College of Education faculty council is adamant that the university should not be a part of the EAA, Camron said. Camron is the chairman of the council.
Camron said he’s also planning to ask the campus-wide faculty senate to oppose the university’s involvement in the EAA.
“I know that (the boycott) is inconveniencing our students,” Camron said. “It’s an important lesson in democracy for our students— this what minority groups do in our political culture is to protest.”
Today we learn that the Dean of EMU’s College of Education, Jann Joseph, has resigned from her position on the board directors of the EAA, effective last Saturday. Her resignation letter was short and to the point:
I have resigned from the EAA Board of Directors, effective November 30, 2013.
Thank you for your continued support,
Dean, College of Education
She has given no reason for her resignation but faculty members’ outrage plus a planned protest during the EAA’s board meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3rd may have played a role. The protest will be followed by a “Teach-In on the Education Achievement Authority” and starts at 7:45 a.m.
From the Facebook event page for the protest:
BE THERE and bring your friends! Stand in solidarity with EMU faculty as they picket in front of the offices of President Martin and the Board of Regents at Welch Hall on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. Hosted by Professors Steven Camron and Rebecca Martusewicz.
There are two half-hour informational pickets outside Welch Hall:
- 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. to coincide with the 8 AM start of the EAA Audit Committee meeting
- 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. to coincide with the 9 AM start of the EAA Executive Committee and Regular Board meeting
A Teach-In will follow from 10:00-12:30 at Halle Library Auditorium
Here is the schedule for the Teach-In:
Introduction and Welcome
Dr. Steve Camron, Special Education
Dr. Rebecca Martusewicz, Teacher Education
Panel 1: 10:10-11:00
Dr. Tom Pedroni, Wayne State University
Rep. Ellen Lipton, MI House of Representatives
Ms. Michelle Fecteau, MI State Board of Education
Ms. Elena Herrada, Detroit Public Schools Board of Ed.
Panel 2: 11:00-11:30
Ms. Brooke Harris, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Christopher Turkaly, Former EAA Teacher
Mr. Delbert Glaze, Former EAA Teacher
Panel 3: 11:30-12:00
My thanks to Dr. Tom Pedroni for his contributions to this post.