BREAKING: Half of Michigan State Board of Education comes out against expansion of the EAA

Can you hear us now?

On the heels of most of the major school administrators coming out against Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment on students in Detroit — the Education Achievement Authority – four members of the Michigan State Board of Education are now calling on lawmakers to vote against the latest version of House Bill 4369.

The four members are Michelle Fecteau, Kathleen Straus, Casandra Ulbrich, and Lupe Ramos-Montigny. Notably absent is Board President John Austin.

Here is their statement:

Statement by Michigan State Board of Education Members Regarding EAA Bill, Substitute for House Bill 4369

As members of the State Board of Education, we are deeply troubled by the latest version of House Bill 4369, the bill to expand the Education Achievement Authority. The House substitute to the Senate substitute would still allow for up to 50 schools, from school districts throughout the state, to be placed in the EAA.

A number of State Board members have visited EAA schools and spoken with EAA teachers whose reports of chaotic conditions, improper and inconsistent disciplinary practices, failure to provide recommended special education services and an inability to furnish adequate numbers of functional computers, are very disturbing.

The basic premise of the EAA teaching model is flawed. Putting mostly new, inexperienced teachers in schools whose students have had difficulty learning is not working. While the use of computers in teaching can be very effective, it is only if the teacher in the classroom is fully engaged with the students. Students learn best when they have positive relationships with their teachers. To depend almost exclusively on a computer-based educational delivery system has not proven to be effective in reaching hard to educate students

The substitute to HB 4369 reduces transparency by limiting information available through Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act. It contains no exit strategy for schools to return to their original districts, nor does it contain any requirement for quality. The existing EAA has not yet proven that it is the appropriate vehicle to turn around schools and help students succeed. To add schools to this District would be counter-productive.

We, therefore, oppose this bill, which would expand the Education Achievement Authority, and support legislation that would allow public school entities with a demonstrated track record of turning around low-performing schools, such as Intermediate School Districts, to assist local schools with turn-around efforts.

Again, there may well be a vote on the expanding the EAA statewide as early as Thursday so, if you haven’t already, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE AND YOUR STATE SENATOR TO EXPRESS YOUR OPPOSITION TO HOUSE BILL 4369.. If you need some ideas, have a look at the talking points prepared by the MEA by clicking HERE (pdf).

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