Education — January 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Rather than addressing questions of abuse in the Education Achievement Authority, spokesperson attacks the messengers


Easier than dealing with difficult problems, I suppose…

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.

As the ripples spread out from my recent piece about alleged abuses of and other gross deficiencies students in Education Achievement Authority (EAA) schools, those in charge of the “school district for misfit schools” are in serious damage control. Yesterday, state Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood called for the immediate shutdown of the EAA based on my reporting and a long history of documented failures of the students that attend EAA schools. “Eclectablog’s interviews with teachers at the Education Achievement Authority that cited outright violence against children along with unacceptable inadequacies in programming and classroom resources prove our worst fears to be true – that the EAA is not only a detriment to students, but an actual encroachment on their safety and well-being,” Hopgood said. “Not only is the EAA incapable of expanding statewide as the Governor has called for, it must be shut down immediately in order to ensure the safety of our students. Every stakeholder in the conversation surrounding the expansion of this Authority should read the extensive interviews released by Eclectablog – those who do will quickly be convinced that it is absolutely essential that the EAA close its doors for good.”

In the face of such damning charges, you might expect those in charge of the EAA to step up and announce that an internal investigation was being done regarding the teachers’ statements about physical abuse of students, woefully inadequate school resources like computers that are used for the computer-based curriculum, and class sizes that approach 50 students in some cases.

You might expect that but you would be wrong.

Instead, MIRS News Service reports this morning that, when asked about my piece, EAA spokesperson Terry Abbott did nothing to address the many issues raised by the exposé. Rather, he attacked me and Senator Hopgood directly. According to MIRS:

“Abbot said the serious allegations of what amounts to criminal activity has never been reported to administrators. Plus, given the quotes were shared anonymously should cast real credibility questions on the information.”

Abbott said Hopgood has been a long-time political opponent of the EAA and that he is a politician who does not believe in establishing other ways to provide opportunities for success for children who are “trapped in failing schools year after year.”

“Our focus is going to continue to be on the needs of our kids and not worry about the politics of adults,” he said.

Very nice. None of the allegations were addressed. Instead Abbott attacked me for protecting the identities of the teachers I spoke with and attacked Senator Hopgood for having the audacity to call out the EAA for its many systemic problems and lack of student support.

It’s important to note that the issues raised in my piece have been openly discussed in the past. The failure of the EAA administration to properly (and legally) accommodate special needs students is something Sen. Hopgood and his colleague in the House, Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, have been talking about for some time. The lack of computers for students whose are being taught almost entirely using a computer based model is also not new news. Teachers who have left the EAA and parents of current and former EAA students have commented publicly on social media sites like Facebook about the use of physical punishment they have observed.

The culture of fear and paranoia that led to the teachers I spoke with wishing to remain anonymous is entirely the creation of the EAA administration. When EAA teachers see their colleague Brook Harris fired for speaking out and see “ineffective” ratings given to teachers who push back or attempt to unionize, they know full well that they will be punished if they go against the EAA administration or are vocal about the problems they see every day. For TFA teachers, it’s even worse because if they leave their teaching position, they are kicked out of the program and must start over pursuing a traditional teaching degree if they wish to teach.

It’s also worth noting that Mr. Abbott has a history with my website. Back in December after I broke the news regarding the resignation of EMU College of Education Jann Joseph Dean from EAA board, Mr. Abbott showed up to leave a comment that my reporting was “false”. As I later showed, he was less than truthful with his statements here and elsewhere on the internet.

In fact, given what we know about Mr. Abbott, I’d suggest that there are real credibility questions about HIS veracity.