Eastern Michigan University students and faculty rally to call for severing ties with the EAA

Yesterday nearly 50 intrepid souls braved the “raining Slurpees” weather to attend a rally on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. They were there to protest EMU’s partnership with Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment with Detroit students – the Education Achievement Authority.

The event was organized by the campus group Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education (SEPE) and was well-attended by the students themselves.

Steve Camron, a professor in the Education department, has shown tremendous leadership in urging the EMU Regents and administration to sever their ties with the EAA. Here is a transcript of his remarks during the rally:

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you today. EMU stands as a beacon of hope and opportunity. The Regents and President’s first responsibility is to our students!

I speak to you today as proud member of the coalition opposing the EAA and Eastern’s affiliation with it. We put forth a compelling case for the Administration to make the hard decisions necessary to maintain the integrity of this College and University. We get polite listening and polished responses.

Our students are amazing. They come to Eastern Michigan University because they seek hope for a better life and opportunities to grow, learn and serve their communities. Many are first-time higher education in their families. They struggle to pay tuition, working part-time jobs and often taking care of family members, while carrying a full load of demanding classes. Their scholarship and service is remarkable. Their passion for learning and justice grow as they proceed toward their degree. Their stories are inspiring, complex, and sometimes heartbreaking. I am constantly reminded that they chose Eastern because of our reputation for quality education and a strong commitment to public education.

Affiliation with the politically-motivated, dysfunctionally deployed, and pedagogically unsupportable EAA has tarnished our reputation in Michigan and the nation. The development, operations and instructional practices of the EAA run counter to our College’s mission, values and teaching. We believe this will result in fewer students coming to Eastern, and not just the College of Education.

Insistence to stay affiliated with the EAA indicates to the world that the President and Regents prefer the employment of untrained, unqualified Teach-for-America recruits over our College of Education graduates. Why would any thoughtful parent want to send their son or daughter to such an institution? I call on Regents Stapleton and Morris to seriously consider resigning your appointment to the Board of Regents.

Please take the following bold measures: Regent Morris and Provost Schatzel should immediately resign from the Executive Committee and Board of the EAA, and then the Regents should vote to immediately withdraw from the 2011 Inter-Local agreement that created the EAA.

Steven C. Camron, JD, Chair, COE Council
Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator
Special Education Department, College of Education

Kudos to both the students and the faculty who are fighting to end this damaging relationship between the university and an educational model that goes against nearly everything they represent as an educational institution founded to educate teachers.

[Photos by Heather Sullivan-MacPhail, used with permission]

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