Education, Michigan Republicans — March 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Snyder administration wastes no time bragging about the Education Achievement Authority that doesn’t yet exist


Now THAT’S chutzpah

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]

The Republicans in Michigan are busy bees, getting ready to expand the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) that has had such dubious results in the Detroit school system. Although the Senate has yet to pass the legislation (House Bill 4369) and send it to Governor Snyder for his signature, the Snyder administration already has a webpage up about it that talks about the statewide EAA as if it already exists.

The Education Achievement System is a new statewide school system that will operate the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in Michigan not achieving satisfactory results on a redesign plan or that are under an emergency manager. It is designed to provide a new, stable, financially responsible set of public schools that create the conditions, supports, tools and resources under which teachers can help students make significant academic gains. It will first apply to underperforming schools in Detroit in the 2012-2013 school year and then be expanded to cover the entire state.

This is not a statewide school system, not yet. I realize that Republicans have virtually nothing standing between them and what they want to do but, at the very least, they could wait until they actually achieve their goals before bragging about it.

Here’s freshman House Rep. David Knezek talking about the EAA on the floor of the House last week:

Here’s a partial transcript:

Within this chamber, I doubt you would find a member that did not come to Lansing with the goal of improving public education in our state. I, too, continue to be frustrated by what appears to be a persistent decline in some of Michigan’s public schools. But I am of the strong opinion that much of that decline is the result of self-inflicted wounds, courtesy of the legislature.

Year after year we continue to ask out teachers to do more and more with less and less.

The Education Achievement Authority is being presented to this body as the new and improved testing ground for public education. Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that we work within a data-driven administration. And yet we stand here today prepared to codify the EAA after being in existence for five months. How can the members of this body honestly say that we’ve done our due diligence on this issue? How can we justify the codification of an entity that threatens to undermine or take away our local control? How can we approve an entity that has failed to provide MY committee or this legislature with any of the written curriculum that is used in the classroom? And how can we, with the state’s eyes upon us, approve an entity that places kids in front of a computer and expects them to teach themselves rather than focusing on smaller class sizes, increasing time on task and attracting the most qualified teachers?

For what reason can we justify the EAA the ability to charter their own schools within two miles of an EAA school? If we’re trying to fix School A, why would be build School B down the road and then turn control over to a private entity? One that can take tax dollars, the tax dollars of hard-working Michigan citizens and then turn them into a profit?

But what troubles me the most is something that I cannot even get a straight answer on. When I toured the EAA weeks ago, I asked Chancellor Covington to tell me why the further codification of the EAA was necessary if, according to him, there were amazing transformations already taking place under the current interlocal agreement. He replied to me that he needed Title I dollars and that codification was the only way to ensure that he would have access. However, during his testimony two week ago, Chancellor Covington told the committee that the EAA truly doesn’t qualify for Title I dollars. So, I ask: what is the truth, Mr. Speaker and why can’t we get a straight answer?

If further codified, the EAA expansion will take millions of dollars away from the multitude of schools across this state that will fall under its reach.

I encourage you to watch the whole speech. Rep. Knezek gives some firsthand accounts from kids in EAA schools. His testimony is frightening.

You can hear more from Rep. Knezek in his interview with Tony Trupiano:

The Republicans in this state are experimenting with our children and their education and it’s nothing more than a major step toward destroying our public school system and replacing it with privately-run, for-profit schools where the bottom line will always trump our kids’ education.