By April of 2014, at least eight Washtenaw County-area schools had pledged not to accept student teachers from Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education program until EMU ended its interlocal agreement with Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed experiment on Detroit school kids – the Education Achievement Authority – and disengaged from the EAA entirely.
Yesterday, the Washtenaw County Education Association renewed their pledge. Below is their position statement which reiterates that they look forward to the day when EMU students can once again teach the children in their classrooms but that their relationship with the EAA is so counter to good education practices that they cannot in good faith do so until the relationship is ended.
The correspondence below will be shared by the WCEA with the Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents at their meeting today to voice our concern regarding Eastern Michigan University’s continued association with the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), and to request they end the relationship immediately.
One quick note: Over the weekend, EMU, clearly feeling the pressure from faculty and other areas, issued a statement distancing themselves from the EAA:
Media statement regarding claims of EMU involvement in EAA actions
by Geoff Larcom, Published December 05, 2015
YPSILANTI – To be clear, Eastern Michigan University does not direct, manage or get involved in decisions made by the Educational Achievement Authority. Any reference that suggests EMU involvement in adding schools to the EAA, or in any other operational decisions made by the EAA, is false. Eastern’s involvement in the EAA is very limited and does not involve decisions about which schools go in to or out of the EAA or any other management or operational decisions.
So, two things about this. First, it is the Education Achievement Authority, not the Educational Achievement Authority. It might seem like a small detail but wouldn’t you expect the university that is overseeing the EAA to know the correct name of the group they are overseeing?
Second, if EMU has such a limited involvement in the EAA and doesn’t provide any sort of oversight, what is their role in the interlocal agreement? Are they simply a rubber stamp for everything that the EAA does? They have two votes on the EAA board. Doesn’t that tie them inextricably to decisions that are made whether they like it or not? It’s astonishing to see them turning their backs on the EAA while at the same time maintaining the relationship that has been so widely criticized, criticisms backed with data and proof of the failure of the EAA.
If EMU is so unwilling to assume their role as a partner with the EAA and is so ashamed of the EAA’s actions that they deny having any part in them, why would they continue to support this failed education experiment that continues to fail the school children of Detroit?
Washtenaw County Education Association (WCEA) Position Statement on Eastern Michigan University’s association with the Education Achievement Authority (EAA)
The WCEA requests the EMU Board of Regents end their association with the EAA immediately. Other organizations, including the Eastern Michigan University College of Education Council, are making the same request.
The top priority of the WCEA, is, and will continue to be, the welfare of Michigan’s children through a quality public education. Our members are committed to doing their best for all children and we, the WCEA leadership, will continue to do our part to assure that our teachers are provided the very best conditions in which to provide that quality education to our students.
Washtenaw County educators have a long history of fostering positive relationships with EMU in several facets and each of us have benefited from this relationship. The EMU Board of Regents’ decision to maintain an association with the EAA, however, has caused us to pause and consider how their decision impacts students and teachers in our public schools. The concerns the WCEA has with the EAA, and the relationship that EMU continues to have with the EAA, have led our leadership to recommend that our members – classroom teachers – not consider taking student teachers from EMU. This recommendation was not taken lightly and comes after thorough discussion and thoughtful debate among our leaders. Several members of the WCEA Board have either a degree or have completed coursework as EMU students. Our county schools have benefited from a positive relationship with EMU as our students and their students have benefited from time in our classrooms, presentations to our students, and strong educational relationships which makes our decision that much more difficult. However, our concern is first and foremost with the welfare of all Michigan’s children, and thus we cannot support EMU’s relationship with the EAA, and thus our recommendation regarding student teachers.
The WCEA first raised our concerns over the development and implementation of the EAA with the EMU Board of Regents in 2013 and, unfortunately, those concerns have become a reality. The EAA is fraught with allegations of misappropriation of funds, allegations of fraud, investigations by federal authorities, and has demonstrated an overall lack of leadership. The carousel of EAA administrators and the implementation of questionable and unproven practices continue, while the children of Michigan are left in their wake. The most recent allegations of questionable practices when accepting contract bids for services to the EAA was reported on Nov. 9, 2015 in the Detroit Free Press. These allegations should make the EMU Board of Regents pause and consider what the EAA has done to education in Michigan.
The WCEA calls on Eastern Michigan University to discontinue their association with the EAA, and focus rather, on improving the education of all our children by: demanding a balanced curriculum dedicated to educating the whole child and mandating that music, art, and physical education is a part of the school day; assuring appropriate class sizes; contributing to quality professional development; fostering the implementation of proven instructional practices; assuring that schools have healthy, qualified, and respected educators; demanding an educational climate that encourages cooperation rather than competition; and assuring that schools provide a safe and nurturing environment for learning.
We, as educators must work together to assure that the quality of life of Michigan citizens start with a commitment to providing all of our children with a quality public education. The EAA has been an experiment that has not and does not work for children. We encourage the EMU Board of Regents to reconsider their association with the EAA and vote to discontinue that relationship at the earliest possible opportunity so that we can all move forward to focus on children. We, the WCEA, pledge to encourage our K-12 teachers to accept EMU student teachers in the fall of 2016 upon EMU’s disassociation with the EAA.
The Washtenaw County Education Association Leadership:
Rick Catherman, Chelsea EA
Joe Romeo, Dexter EA
Jackie Shock, Lincoln EA
Cheryl Call, Manchester EA
Tim Timoszyk, Saline EA
Patti Kobeck, Whitmore Lake EA
Kelly Powers, Ypsilanti EA