Education, Teachers — January 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Education Achievement Authority teachers speak out on abuse of students and the failure of the EAA


NOTE: My reporting on the Education Achievement Authority involves multiple posts. You can read all of my coverage of the EAA by clicking HERE.

EAA Chancellor John Covington released a report of his personal investigation into the allegations in my reporting which you can read about HERE.

Over the past couple of years, Republicans and the Snyder administration have attempted to resolve the problem of urban school districts that are failing to provide even the bare basics of a good education for their students by grouping them all together into a single “school district for misfit schools” called the Education Achievement Authority or EAA. As has been well-documented (see my interview with State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton HERE, for example), the EAA has been a catastrophic failure. Instead of providing these disadvantaged children with the resources and environment they so sorely lack, the EAA has attempted to educate them on the cheap. They have resorted to “teaching by computer” but, rather than providing the students with the cutting edge technology that you might expect a school district like this to have, instead there are too few computers for the students, the software was nonfunctional for much of the school year, and the system crashes regularly.

Worse yet, special needs students are woefully neglected, very possibly in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Special plans for these students, called Individualized Education Plans or IEPs, are frequently not provided to the teachers which prevents them from making the accommodations needed for these students, accommodations required by law.

Over the past couple of months I have been reaching out EAA teachers to learn more about their experiences. Several of them agreed to speak to me on the condition that I protect their identity. This is critical since retribution against teachers that speak out by EAA administrators is common knowledge. For example, former EAA teacher Brooke Harris was fired after speaking out on behalf of the students at her school, something I have written about in the past.

I spoke with several teachers, some of whom came to the EAA through the Teach for America program. What follows documents the outrageous and frightening situation in the EAA schools. I am keeping the gender of the teachers, which schools they work in, and any other identifying information hidden so that these teachers will not be fired for speaking to me. Every quote and statement, however, are real and the teachers represent both elementary schools within the EAA as well as high schools.

While much of what I learned from these courageous teachers I had heard about at least in part before, the most shocking thing I discovered was that school administrators have been seen physically abusing problem students. In addition to this, the teachers themselves are put in danger by violent students that the administration appears unwilling or unable to deal with.

It is critically important that these stories be told now because Republicans, including Gov. Snyder, are determined to expand the EAA statewide. The failure of the current EAA “experiment” shows in vivid and frightening detail what a colossal mistake that would be. I encourage you to share this information and this post with others you know so that all of us can contact our legislators and encourage them to stop the failed experiment before it is expanded even further.

I asked the EAA teachers that I spoke with to tell me about their experience and why they were willing to speak out at this time. One teacher put it this way:

“It’s been really rough,” they said. “My first year there it was very chaotic and this year is just as bad. There’s been no consistent discipline structure. I honestly worry about my kids.”

“You’re actually worried about them not being educated well?”, I asked.

“It’s that,” they replied, “But it’s also that the culture of our school is detrimental to learning. We’ve changed our teaching model twice this year and we’re going to change again in February. Our discipline structure went from, before school started, ‘We will not suspend children, you must keep them in your classroom, write them up, and we’ll deal with them’ to me seeing kids coming out of the discipline office with bruises. I’m honestly worried.”

“So they’ve moved to a more stringent disciplinary approach then?” I asked.

“I’ve actually seen my discipline coach slap a kid across the face.”

These reports of physical abuse were echoed in a comment left by an EAA parent on Detroit Free Press article on the EAA (now archived and unavailable):

DPS was much better than the EAA. How can you take the lowest performing schools in a low performing district and hire uncertified teachers with five week of training and pass out computers and expect the student to teach themselves…I have witnessed the physical and verbal abuse of children and the ill-treatment of parents.

In addition to these disturbing reports regarding physical abuse of students, teachers also report a systemic lack of discipline and security at all school levels within the EAA.

“It’s dangerous for kids to come to school,” one teacher at an EAA elementary school told me. “We’ve found drugs in the school. We’ve found weapons in the school. We have a metal detector that doesn’t even work, nobody checks anyone on the way in.”

The security problems are exacerbated by ridiculously large classroom sizes, something that’s only getting worse due to teachers leaving in droves. According to one teacher I spoke with, the classroom they teach in is about to go to almost 50 students. This is despite the fact that a quarter of the students have left the EAA system, a dramatic drop that reflects the dissatisfaction of the students’ parents with the education their children are receiving.

“One of the things that really has pushed me to speak out is that I learned from another teacher recently that I’m about to get another ten students in my class which will take me to almost 50 kids,” the teacher said. “Another teacher quit and, instead of hiring someone to replace them, they are just redistributing their students to all the other teachers. So, it’s just me and all these kids with no help, no paraprofessionals. It’s just dangerous. Beyond being able to educate that many kids at once all by myself, I’m not confident I can keep them safe from each other. They don’t fit in the room, there aren’t enough chairs, it’s not okay. I have this knot in my stomach and I’m worried sick and stressed out because of it.”

Alone in a class of nearly 50 students with no student teachers, no paraprofessionals, and little support from school administrators when children act out violently. And many of these teachers are in their early twenties. The ones from Teach for America — roughly a quarter of the teachers in the EAA — had a scant five weeks of training before they were assigned to a classroom full of kids.

Another teacher confirms this assessment.

“The way that they’re treating the students is terrifying,” they said. “We’ve had multiple fights where no security has actually shown up. They’re not suspending students so I’ve been hit by a kid before and nothing has happened. Another teacher has been hit numerous times and nothing has happened to the child who did the hitting even though he was very clearly identified. He is still at school today.

“I’ve never felt this worried about going to school,” they continued. “I’m well aware that most of my kids would protect me and they have before, but they shouldn’t have to. That’s the role of discipline. But, at the same time, I afraid to report a kid because I’ve seen disciplinary officers hit them and I’ve reported it and nothing has happened from the state.

“I’m at my end where I can’t be part of this organization that is abusing children both educationally and physically.”

“This year is just as bad as last year,” one teacher told me. “Safety issues remain for the students and staff. There’s a lot of disrespectful and unruly behavior that’s never taken care of. I have personally had my hair ripped out. I’ve been cursed at. You name it, they’ve said it to me. One student actually threw me down and tried to strangle me and was still not expelled from the building.”

A common lament from the teachers I spoke with is the lack of consistency and constant upheaval in EAA schools. Not only has enrollment dropped this year, teachers themselves are leaving in large numbers — the teacher turnover rate is 20%. Last fall, they had to hire around 40 new teachers after the school year was already underway.

UPDATE: On Diane Ravitch’s blog, EAA spokesperson Terry Abbott claims the teacher turnover rate is 6.83% this year. The 20% figure comes from this piece by MIRS news service last September:

The turnover rate for classroom teachers at the EAA is about 20 percent.

“To be honest, we don’t really apologize for that,” said EAA Chief Officer of Accountability, Equity and Innovation Mary Esselman.

She said that they want the best teachers in front of kids.

“We’ve had eleven staff members leave this year. We lost our entire special ed department,” a teacher told me. “It’s been really rough on a lot of the kids.

“The main concern that I have for my kids is that they have substitute teachers who don’t know their content area. For example, we’ll have a rotating sub and we have two science teachers. This is for something like 1,000 kids. So they’re not learning science the way that they should. We lost a lot of our math teachers so they’re not learning math as they should. We need more teachers in just about all of our content areas and our classes are huge. So the students are not learning the best way that they can.”

The reason for the high turnover rate is related to the poor treatment of teachers including lack of support, unreasonable expectations from EAA administrators, and a reward/punishment system that seems designed to humiliate teachers.

“You mentioned that a lot of teachers have left,” I said to one teacher. “Is that mostly because they were let go or because they’re unhappy and leaving on their own?”

“They’re completely unhappy and leaving on their own,” they said. “Almost all of them have gone back to the Detroit Public Schools. We lost all of our guidance counselors. We lost all but two special ed teachers. We lost all of our science teachers except for two.”

I asked another of the teacher who I spoke with why they thought so many teachers were leaving.

“At the end of the day, my frustrations are the same as my colleagues who have been teaching for seven to thirty years,” they told me. “It has everything to do with the expectations our administration has for us and the expectations of higher-ups in the district.

“We had no common planning time with any experienced teachers, no instructional coaches, and only one professional development staff member. So, as far as supporting new teachers, those things just weren’t in place.

“There was a serious lack of support from the administration, too,” they continued. “We had an inexperienced principal who wasn’t even from Detroit. Our attendance clerk didn’t do their job so we lost a LOT of money for inaccurate record keeping. We had several teachers quit; the ones who were experienced and could get jobs elsewhere definitely left. We had some teachers that they had to get rid of because they lost all that money and I had class sizes of like 39 kids. And this is as a first-year teacher with no support and no curriculum resources.

“The bottom line is that the EAA is really bad for teachers and, more importantly, it’s really bad for students. The way they treat the teachers is causing them to leave. I would leave if…I’m almost there, to tell you the truth. The turnover rate is horrible for the kids. Any educator worth their salt knows that a lot of what you do every day and the success of it is dependent on the depth of the relationships that you form with your students and parents. And, for a lot of these students, school is the most stable thing in their life, especially in these high-risk, urban areas.

“So, when they constantly have instability at home and also instability at school with this revolving door of teachers…they’re in and they’re out because the district is treating them like crap. That’s horrible for kids. Not to mention the fact that class sizes are huge, the things that they feed them in the cafeteria are not nutritious, they have very minimal security.”

“So, you attribute the turnover mainly to the way teachers are treated by the administration?” I asked.

“Yeah. The lack of support, the top-down management style, the horrible contracts, the pressure to be there outside of your working hours, and the ‘ineffective’ ratings for not implementing teaching strategies that they haven’t given you the resources to implement. For example, I’m expected to upload all of my curriculum onto what is basically a public website and let my students access it from there. But, I have a class of nearly 40 students and I only have 20 working computers that are missing keys that will never be replaced because we don’t have an IT department. Yet, I will be rated ‘ineffective’ if I don’t have all my students logging onto these digital resources and working with them.”

This lack of resources is as astonishing as the idea that teachers will somehow be able to meet the expectations set for them by the EAA administration without them.

“These are kids many of whom don’t have computers at home, I’d imagine,” I said to one of the teachers I interviewed.

“Oh, definitely not,” they replied. “Definitely not. We have to give them homework so now we have to create two sets of everything we do; one that requires internet access and one that doesn’t for students who don’t have access at home. The whole idea at the end of the year last year was that every student would have their own laptop but that has not happened. We don’t even have enough laptops for an entire class to be on the computers at the same time.”

“So, the resources haven’t been provided but the expectations are still there.”

In addition to physical resources being unavailable to EAA teachers, a more sinister problem is that they are not being given the federally mandated resources to effectively accommodate special needs students in the class rooms, something that State House Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton has been pursuing with vigor. In my interview with her last fall, she told me that State Board of Education has refused to accept her complaint which has forced her into the position of having to actually sue them on behalf of the special needs kids in the EAA.

One of the teachers I spoke with talked at length about the problem they are facing meeting the needs of the special education students in their classroom.

“Another issue is that IEPs are not being followed,” they said. “IEPs are Individualized Education Plans for special needs students. This is a plan that is designed by a team of a special education teacher, a core teacher, the student, the parents, and the administration. They have a sit-down meeting at least once a year where they design specific accommodations for the student with special needs like extra time on tests or alternative locations, for example.

“Another reason why students are struggling is because their our schools are set up to be ‘all-inclusive’ so there are no classrooms in the building that are set up just for students in special ed. They’re all in regular classes with general ed students. These students are never pulled out to be supported in the ways that they should be. So, for example, we have severely autistic, aggressive, emotionally-disabled, cognitively-disabled students within the classroom that I’m responsible for educating and managing behavior-wise with no additional support. In a lot of cases, that is a huge violation of the plan — the IEP — that was laid out for them. Those are serious legal issues in a lot of situations that we’re getting ourselves into.

“The problem is that I often don’t even see most of these IEPs. Like last year, I didn’t even know which of my students had IEPs until February. Nothing was given to us.”

“But, by law, you were supposed to have been accommodating them according to their IEPs, right?” I asked.


Another teacher had a similar experience.

“I’ve written the state about our highly illegal practices with special education students. I’ve seen exactly four IEPs this year.”

“I assume you’ve got more than four kids who have IEPs?” I asked.

“I have at least 20% per class. And I have no paraprofessionals except for one hour a day. It’s horrendous. I have no idea how to modify my teaching plan if I haven’t seen their IEPs. For example, I might need to read the test to them or modify things for math only. I have no idea without seeing the IEP. So, of course these kids are doing poorly because I’m not able to modify my teaching in the way that their IEP specifies.

“Worse yet, if I don’t do it and they fail, they have to pass the kid because their teaching plan wasn’t modified as it should have been. But, I didn’t know! So, kids are being passed on.”

“Why aren’t you seeing the IEPs?” I asked.

“Because they don’t send them to us and I have no idea where to go to get them because we keep losing special ed teachers and guidance counselors. We don’t even know which kids are on whose caseload anymore because so many have left. We’ve had special educators who have only taught for a week and then they left again.”

The computerized teaching program used by the EAA is called Buzz and it was uniformly despised by all the teachers I spoke with.

“I’ve almost refused to teach with Buzz, their online teaching platform,” one told me. “It doesn’t work half the time. But we’re required to use it or we’ll be given an ‘ineffective’ score even if the data shows that we ARE being effective.”

“So much for “data-driven” teaching methods,” I observed.

“I’m not opposed to data-driven teaching up to a point,” they replied. “I think it’s helpful. But, at a certain point, the way that they’re requiring us to use things is not good for our students and it’s taking away our individual teaching style. If they could, I would not be in my classroom. If it were their model, I would literally just be a babysitter.”

Another teacher described Buzz this way:

“It’s very clunky. It wasn’t up and running until half-way through the school year last year and it crashes all the time. It’s only gotten slightly better this year. It’s not at all user-friendly and, again, it’s not useful if the kids don’t have internet access at home. They can’t access any of their work at home and they can’t really access any of their work at school because there are nearly 40 of them in class and only 20 working computers.

“Look, these are kids and computers are not exactly the most sturdy things. Things happen and there are accidents. So, every time I lose a computer, I have to readjust my whole classroom setup to make sure that all my kids can work without the resources that they need.”

“So, when Buzz wasn’t working, what were you doing?” I asked. “How were you able to teach without it?”

“When Buzz wasn’t up and working I actually created my own website on a free site on the internet. So, I had them on that until Buzz was up and running so that they got used to accessing assignments online. That made it an easier transition onto Buzz once it did get on its feet. But, of course, that’s not useful if the computer itself is broken.”

“I assume that Buzz is collecting data on the students as they go through testing and things like that,” I said.

“Right. And that’s another thing. These kids are tested constantly. They take the state tests and they also do these performance series tests which are given every quarter to the students to determine what grade level they’re working at in math and science and writing and reading. We literally are told that we have to sit down with the student and say, ‘You should be in 8th grade but you’re in math working on material that you should have mastered in 3rd grade so we need to give you four years growth in one year.’ And so we test them every quarter and set goals for them. For a lot of these students, this works and it’s useful but all it is is just teaching to a test.

“Also, with our pay, we have pay-for-performance so our bonus pay is linked to how well our students grow on those performance series tests. Those payments were supposed to have been made in October for the last school year but then they moved it to December and then they’ve moved it to the spring now. They haven’t announced who is getting it and then they’re not giving them out all, so far! And, by the way, those bonuses are not available to teachers who don’t teach English or math because those are the only things tested on the performance series tests.”

The shoddy treatment of teachers in this way — the questionable contract requirements and failure to reward teachers with the “Pay for Performance Incentive Grants” as promised — was another consistent complaint from the teachers I spoke with and plays a significant role in the high turnover rate of EAA teachers. I have had a look at their contract — which they didn’t actually receive this past fall until late October despite the fact that the contract began two months before in late August — and it has a clause in it that seems designed to trap teachers in their jobs. The contract requires teachers to give 60 days notice if they are quitting. If they leave before the 60 days, they are required to pay a $500 “liquidated damages fee” plus “any attorneys’ fees or costs to the EAA to collect” the $500 fee.

One teacher described the contract to me in this way: “There’s no extra duty pay. We’re basically being treated as student teachers when we’re professionals. It’s awful.”

“EAA teachers are not unionized, correct?” I asked one teacher.

“No, we are not unionized,” they said. “It is impossible for us to unionized because they have a stranglehold over some of our schools. We would have to unionize as a district and we can’t get into some of the schools.”

“What’s preventing you from unionizing?” I asked.

“We’ve gotten threats. We got a lot of threats last year. For example, the loudest ‘noisemakers’ were given an ‘ineffective score and were let go or weren’t promoted. So anyone thinking about trying to form a union have more to lose now and they aren’t so keen to do it.”

As much as they are portrayed negatively by many in education community, Teach for America teachers are actually in a far more difficult position than their traditionally trained and educated counterparts. I asked one of them about their situation.

“TFA teachers are bound by contract to stay, right?” I asked. “You can’t leave?”

“Well, you don’t have to stay. You can quit. We just have more to lose if we do quit.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“We aren’t traditionally certified. So, if I quit Teach for America, I can’t just go get another teaching job. I’m out of the profession unless I go back to school and get my four-year degree and student teach.”

“So, if you bail out at any point, you’re out of the program.”

“Right. It’s a two-year certification program that is done while you are teaching so, if you quit, you’ve pretty much given up on teaching.”

“So you are tied to that school for a period of time.”

“Yeah, if you want to be a teacher you are. A lot of the TFA teachers that quit, they just move on to another career field.”

While the working conditions for all EAA teachers are the same, the TFA teachers don’t have the opportunity to leave and pursue their career elsewhere. In their monthly training meetings, they meet with TFA teachers outside of the EAA and hear about a far different experience than the one they have.

“We have once-a-month trainings with TFA and we hear data, we hear stories, we share ideas,” a TFA teacher told me. “It’s a very collaborative spirit. It’s sometimes hard for us EAA teachers to be there because we’re hearing all these great things from other schools about what’s possible and we’re like, ‘well, that’s not our experience at all’…

The State of Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority website describes the EAA this way:

The Education Achievement Authority of Michigan is a new public system of schools whose mission is to fundamentally improve public education in Michigan.

Education Achievement Authority schools are creative, innovative learning environments that provide students a quality education. They offer struggling students the opportunity to catch up to their peers around the state and receive the education they need to succeed in college or a career after high school. The system opened in September 2012 with 15 of Detroit’s lowest-achieving schools, which were identified by the Michigan Department of Education as schools with the greatest need. […]

In the Education Achievement Authority classroom, students are divided into small focused learning groups and each student has his or her own computer. […]

In addition to the individualized attention, Education Achievement Authority schools have a 7.5 hour school day and 210 school days per year, which means nearly 1,600 hours of instruction annually (Michigan requires just 1,098 hours). These instructional hours put our students on par with countries such as Japan, China and Singapore, enabling them to achieve on a level with their international competitors.

Almost none of this is true. Rather than creating a world-class school district with proven teaching models, excellent resources, and superior teachers, the EAA is a second class school district that has somehow managed to be inferior to the failing districts it replaced. At least half of its teachers are first-year teachers and half of them are TFA teachers who have had a sum total of five weeks of training before they are put into an EAA classroom. While the TFA teachers that I spoke with are amazingly dedicated young people who love their students and want nothing more than to be educators, the fact is that this is supposed to be a school district designed to lift children trapped in a terrible education situation to a level where they can compete with any student in the state. A district like that should be employing well-trained, highly experienced teachers who are well-compensated for their expertise, given the resources they need to succeed, and treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. None of this is true of the EAA.

Rather than every student having “his or her own computer” as the EAA’s website boasts, there aren’t enough computers to go around in the classroom. To add digital insult to injury, classroom assignments meant to be done online simply aren’t available to large numbers of EAA students who simply do not have the internet at home, much less a computer with which to access it.

This failed system, one which manipulates data to give a distorted impression of its “success” and refuses to answer questions of state legislators, is being targeted for expansion across the state of Michigan by Republicans. It should not only NOT be expanded, it should either be completely overhauled with new leadership, expanded resources, and more input from education professionals or it should be abandoned entirely. As it stands now, it is a failed experiment. Worse yet, it is doing more harm than good and increasing the number of Detroit children who we can only describe as a “lost generation”. They are students who will forever be handicapped by the embarrassingly inferior education they are receiving from the State of Michigan. And that is something we all own a piece of.

  • Bill W

    Why do I wonder if the eventual collapse of what is not a sustainable cover up will be used to push private school vouchers. I have come to believe that as a general rule, Republicans in this state do not want a successful, viable, public school system.

  • Just a nerdy special ed teacher thing–it’s actually IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) that they would be in violation of. I am writing an IEP tonight, in fact!

    I had to stop reading this part way through because it made me so upset. I will finish it but I feel sick right now. Bless you (and your stomach) for writing this…I don’t know how we all aren’t ripping nails out with our teeth and spitting them down Snyder’s throat….

    • I’ll correct that, Patti. Thanks.

      (Sorry to upset you ; )

  • Ruth Kraut

    Chris, thanks so much for this! As it happens, I had a post ready to go up about the EAA. It’s kind of a “primer” on the EAA, with links to an easily comprehendible series from Okemos Parents for Schools, and to the FOIA’d documents. This really rounds out the picture, and I was able to add a link to this post as well. Here is the post:

    I agree with you that it’s really important to understand what the EAA is now, and what the Republican legislators pushing it want it to be. That’s why I called my post “An Activist’s Guide.”

  • Pingback: Education Achievement Authority teachers speak out on abuse of students and the failure of the EAA | Eclectablog | MI Ed Policy News()

  • Pingback: Day 4: 1st Quarter @Eclectablog fundraiser – We’re making a difference and changing the conversation | Eclectablog()

  • john galt

    In a country that likes to emulate Europe, why don’t we try what is working in Europe? The Europeans have the CHOICE to send their kids anywhere and the money will follow the child. Good schools grow, bad schools close, and the kids are the winners. Isn’t “for the kids” is what it’s all about?

    • You pretend to know what you’re taking about but it’s clear that you do not. The fact is that few European countries have a voucher system.
      If we were going to emulate Europe, the first thing we’d do is pay our teachers what they’re truly worth and we’d actually place value on our public school system.

      • john galt

        It’s clear that you prefer the failed system that is in place now. Even Canada, Japan, New Zealand have it figured out. Your ignorance of not allowing parents the choice, shows your allegiance to the schools, not the kids. Teacher merit pay IS one of the results in a voucher system. You prefer the system that protects the perverts

        • What school choice has done on Michigan drain money from our public school system and funneled tax dollars into the coffers of for-profit corporations. I reject that to the fullest. And to suggest that I think what we have now is working is absurd. We’ve put public schools on a starvation diet and then ridiculed them for not being successful. It’s hypocrisy in its purest form.

          • john galt

            Quit drinking the koolaid! Schools are getting plenty of money! The school Administrators are to blame for money mis-management. Michigan is in the top 10 states for per-pupil funding. Private schools educate kids for less.

          • You should speak to some school board members about how their budgets are being throttled by the state government. In real terms, we’re spending less to educate our children than we did a decade ago. It’s false that private schools educate children for less.

          • john galt

            I send my kids to private schools – I’m well aware of what the private schools spend. As a business owner, I see every day what the public schools are putting out. It is not a pretty sight. The public system is strangled by the MEA and the entire state, and country, are suffering as a result.

          • Thomas C. Pedroni

            NAEP scores for all demographic groups are higher now than at anytime in American history. Once you factor out childhood poverty, which is criminal in the United States, we are near or at the top in every cross-national comparison. The districts with the best results almost universally have teacher unions.

          • john galt

            you’re entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts. Michigan spends plenty without getting the results.


          • Thomas C. Pedroni

            Dear Fictional Ayn Rand Character– you seem to be referencing the EdWeek Quality Counts report. Can you please tell me which of the states in the top 10 out of 50 on that report do not have state-wide teacher unions? At the very top– Massachusetts, a Republican bastion if there ever was one.

          • Yardwerke

            The school in Ann Arbor that Snyder sends his kids spends 20,000 dollars per pupil. No public school comes close to that.

          • hoi polloi

            Please explain how someone who sends their kids to private school has any idea about what’s happening in public schools?

          • TeacherPatti

            Chris, I appreciate what you are trying to do but you aren’t going to convince someone who calls themselves “John Galt” and who probably seethes with jealousy when he looks at the union salaries.

          • ::Sigh:: I’m sure you’re right. Which is largely why I quit wrestling in the mud with Mr. “Galt”. (So original)

          • john galt

            You are probably one of the reasons our kids are in the bottom third.

        • Yardwerke

          Great points Eclectablog. John you have no idea what you are talking about, you are the ignorant one. Just look at the country of Finland, they give their teacher’s autonomy and pay them like professionals and as a result their schools are the best in the world.

          • john galt

            Yard – you are too stupid to be considered an idiot. You are making my point. Finland has a voucher system.

          • john galt

            you made my point. The Fins have vouchers

          • Yardwerke

            The Finn’s DO NOT have vouchers.

          • john galt

            they’ve had a voucher system for 40 years, The Swedes even copied it. Sorry it it burst your little bubble

          • Thomas C. Pedroni

            Vouchers in Sweden: Scores Fall, Inequality Grows | Diane Ravitch’s …

          • Thomas C. Pedroni

            John, great example. Finland has one of the strongest social welfare systems in the world. Not exactly what Ayn Rand dreamed about. They also have very strong teacher unions, and pay teachers very well. Here’s more:

            “We are having a president’s race in Finland now and education is one of those things that everyone agrees must not be touched. Funding should not be touched, nor should education be privatized,” said Pasi Sahlberg, author of “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?”

            “We never used excellence as a driver of education reform; we wanted equity and equality as the most important drivers. Funding flows to those who have special needs,” said Sahlberg. “We don’t measure schools so we don’t say this is a bad school or this is a good school in terms of funding. All funding is based on need.”

            Finnish schools provide three daily meals. Each has a nurse or doctor so children receive annual checkups. Recess is sacrosanct. In fact, Finnish children spend less time in class and have less homework than American students, and there is no high-stakes testing before the 12th grade.

            But the real reform that changed Finnish schools, once in the lower ranks of performance with great gaps in achievement among its students, was the professionalization of teachers in the 1970s and 1980s.

            All teachers now have master’s degrees and are trained as researchers “so they understand what they are doing, how they should improve and change their own work,” said Sahlberg. “In Finland, we believe it takes 10,000 hours before you are at the peak of your profession.” In America, he said, many teachers quit before that point.

            Finland upgraded standards and admissions for teaching programs and moved them from third-tier institutions to research universities. Along with enhancing status, Finland raised teacher salaries. It’s now more difficult to get into a teaching program than into law or medicine.

          • hoi polloi

            Finland does not use a voucher system for their public schools. Completely untrue.

            Finland has 100% free public education through the first four years of college. Finland also leads the world in lowest child poverty rate. The US is the highest of industrialized nations.

          • Yardwerke

            Here’s another point for the uninformed like yourself, unlike vouchers in the U.S the teachers in Finland are unionized and have a lot of automony as to instructional methods and can also choose their own textbooks.

          • Yardwerke

            Students do not pay in Finland for schooing and the money does not follow the student. That’s not a voucher system.

  • judyms9

    No teacher of any talent level can accomplish much with classes the sizes cited here. Even the military which has a specific population and special controls on the behavior of recruits has a level of fallout at basic training. So I’m inclined to agree with Bill W that this is all a prelude to what the GOP legislature really wants, school vouchers. Keep an eye on which companies are waiting in the wings.

  • Mary Valentine

    Do those teachers understand that they are required by law to report any suspected child abuse, whether the abuse happens at home or at school? They need to make an anonymous report immediately if they suspect that a child has been hit or slapped.

    • Yes, several of them have made reports and have been ignored. There’s a quote about it in the post, in fact.

  • Thomas C. Pedroni

    Eclectablog Shrugged. We need to shrug off John Galt and send him scuttling back to his friends at Mackinac.

  • sarah

    Out of curiosity, how many teachers did you talk to? How many schools did they represent out of the 15? Because no one talked to me. No one asked me about my school and my experience. And honestly, you probably wouldn’t write about it if you had. My school is not failing our kids. I have unaltered data that says my kids grew over a grade level in math since September. And your data that we are contributing to the “lost generation” is….where?

    A few side notes before I continue:
    1. If there is abuse, man up and say something.
    2. If your kids are teaching themselves, you are doing it wrong.
    3. If you feel that you are being forced to have the kids teach themselves, be thankful for the lack of classroom computers.

    We took over the lowest performing schools in the city. We are cleaning up a mess we didn’t make, all the while giving our students a quality education. I don’t know who you talked to, but I urge you to up your sample size before you try to make generalizations about a population. Even my Statistics students could tell you that, and they are “forever handicapped by the embarrassingly inferior education they are receiving”.

    • You say “we” several times but don’t reveal your identity. Are you a spokesperson for the EAA?

      To your points:

      1. If there is abuse, man up and say something.

      These teachers DID “man up” (offensive term) and were ignored.

      2. If your kids are teaching themselves, you are doing it wrong.
      Nobody said the kids are “teaching themselves” so this statement is apropos of absolutely nothing.

      3. If you feel that you are being forced to have the kids teach themselves, be thankful for the lack of classroom computers.

      See #2.

  • Pingback: Education Achievement Authority teachers speak out on abuse of students and the failure of the EAA | WCHB-AM: NewsTalk 1200()

  • Pingback: Citing Eclectablog reporting, Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood calls for the immediate shutdown of the Education Achievement Authority | Eclectablog()

  • Pingback: Education Achievement Authority teachers speak out on abuse of students and the failure of the EAA | Hot 107.5()

  • Pingback: Rather than addressing questions of abuse in the Education Achievement Authority, spokesperson attacks the messengers | Eclectablog()

  • Pingback: Another EAA teacher speaks out about student abuse and violations of federal law in the treatment of special needs students | Eclectablog()

  • Me

    I taught at one of the EAA schools during the district’s first year of operation. Chaos and lack of structure are understatements. The teachers I worked with were under such stress and had no support to address discipline issues that they resorted to physical and verbal abuse. Two of the teachers would make students exercise during detention while they turned the thermostat up to 80 degrees during the summer months. A student actually died of a sudden seizure that may have been heat induced.

    Special needs students complained that one teacher would spank them or throw shoes at them if they talked out of turn. Teachers would bully special needs students with emotional or cognitive impairments. Often teachers would place students on informal suspensions in violation of federal IDEA guidelines. Several special needs students were placed on part-time schedules by untrained teachers who could not handle behavior and had little training on how to support these students academically. Other abuses by teachers included:

    Making students remove shoes and clothing items to borrow pencils or other basic supplies
    One teacher would knock over desks when she was angry with unruly students and joke about her abuses during staff meetings.
    Making fun of special needs students’ physical or emotional impairments during staff meetings
    Duck-taping students’ mouths closed
    Allowing middle school students to verbally/physically bully special needs students who misbehaved in class.
    One teacher would let students “fight it out” in class. A male student was assaulted so brutally during this teacher’s reading class that his eye was closed shut and one side of his face was swollen for two weeks. The parent filed a restraining order and this teacher was investigated by the police. Amazingly she is still employed at the school.
    The EAA requires students to attend mandatory summer school. Two teachers did not want to teach summer school so they told their homeroom students that summer school was optional. Only 10% of their students showed up for summer school and were considered truant for three months. The principal suddenly resigned during the summer months so these teachers were not held accountable for the missing students during the summer months.
    If teachers found a particular student “challenging” or incorrigible she would just issue an informal suspension until parents were forced to pull students from school.
    Because first year teachers (and seasoned) had no curricular materials and no training for utilizing the Buzz platform (online curriculum) students were encouraged to color or fill out worksheets
    Teachers who had no formal training or who held interim teaching certificates had absolutely no understanding of grade-level content requirements, appropriate instructional strategies, assessments or interventions. I actually had several “teachers” who never heard the terms scope and sequence, curriculum and state content standards.
    I had several special needs students in my classroom, but never received their IEPs or support from the special education teacher in our building. Half of them were placed on part-time schedules by the end of the year.

  • Pingback: Yet another teacher speaks out about mistreatment of students in the EAA. Contact me if you’re the next. | Eclectablog()

  • Pingback: Head of EAA conducts exhaustive 3-day investigation of student abuse & other allegations, finds everything is just fine | Eclectablog()

  • Pingback: Another EAA teacher speaks out, sets the record straight on Chancellor Covington’s rosy assessment | Eclectablog()

  • Pingback: Michigan’s “Educational Achievement Authority”: A Dismal, Frightening Failure | Diane Ravitch's blog()

  • Amy

    I’d like to see data on how much it costs to run the EAA schools vs. traditional public schools. I’m guessing that EAA is cheaper, and that the cost savings explains why politicians support EAA.

    • I don’t have the numbers but I can tell you that what the state is giving them isn’t enough for them to run the district so they are having to rely on federal grants and huge influxes of money from private groups like the Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and the Waltons.

      Have a look at this:

      “Michigan’s failing schools chief finds he can’t educate kids at current funding levels”

      • Ashley Raymond

        Why should tax payers pay for these schools when the majority of them are against the concept of government takeover??? I am currently a student at the College of Education at EMU and we are all being boycotted by the public school system and completely mistreated because of the decision made by Regents who were elected by Gov. Snyder. So not only did we have nothing to do with the decision for EMU to back this up, we didn’t have anything to do with nominating the people who did make the decision! A meeting was held and every single person who decided to speak begged and pleaded EMU to cut ties with the EAA, and now I am left $50,000 in debt and jumping through hoops just to get a student teaching position; while Bill Gates, who is only financially supporting this for his financial gain, (The donations, in which are written off as tax deductions, are on a condition that the schools can only run on his software and products) is not even being side eyed by anti-EAA groups. Quit giving up your freedoms to the government people!! The idea of the EAA while looking through rose colored glasses seem like it is a step in the right direction, but it will be the death of the public school system. Quit giving the government to go ahead and claim “authority” over your children and their future.

  • Pingback: Republicans delay vote on expanding EAA – Keep the calls coming, it’s WORKING! | Eclectablog()

  • Pingback: Shutting Teachers Up |

  • Pingback: Quora()