EAA EXPANSION BILL STALLED IN STATE LEGISLATURE
With all of the heartbreaking news and stories coming out of Detroit, particularly in regards to the education of Detroit students, I thought it would be nice to start with some good news today. According to an article in the Detroit Free Press today, the bill to codify the Education Achievement Authority in to state law and expand it to 50 schools or more is stalled. It’s a huge blow to Governor Rick Snyder who has championed the EAA from its inception.
Despite a renewed push, expansion of a state turnaround entity for failing public schools beyond Detroit remains in trouble in the Legislature, where some majority Republicans still have concerns about a top initiative for Gov. Rick Snyder.
They say it’s too early to know whether the fledgling 15-school Education Achievement Authority is working. Others contend a new version of legislation floated last week doesn’t guarantee a role for county intermediate school districts to step in and run the worst schools instead.
Some Republicans, after recently meeting with EAA teachers, echo Democrats who wonder if they’re too constrained in their ability to engage with students.
“My local ISDs are not in favor of it, my local superintendents are not in favor of it, Grand Rapids Public Schools are not in favor of it,” said Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, who was a teacher for 37 years. […]
“It’s a concept that although is good on paper has a hard time getting a foothold,” said Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle. “I don’t think the EAA is doing all that we want it to do.”
This is terrific news and suggests that legislators are hearing the message. Please do make sure to let your state legislator know how you feel about this and keep the pressure on.
GOVERNOR SNYDER IN COMPLETE DENIAL ABOUT HIS FAILED EDUCATION EXPERIMENT
Meanwhile, as state lawmakers are beginning to see that the EAA is not the panacea to the trouble so many of our schools are in, Governor Rick Snyder is in complete denial about it. Here’s how Gov. Snyder described the EAA just this past week at an event in Lansing:
Snyder on Wednesday defended the EAA’s track record after speaking at a Michigan Farm Bureau event in Lansing.
“If you talk to teachers and students in these schools, you’ll see there’s real learning going on,” Snyder told reporters. “And these were schools that had a terrible track record for learning. It’s dramatically improved.”
It’s little wonder that 62% of Michigan voters gave Snyder a failing grade on education in a recent poll.
If anyone from the Governor’s office is reading this, please contact me so that I can put Gov. Snyder in touch with some teachers who tell an completely different story than this fairytale he seems to believe. I’m serious. That statement verges on delusional.
INTENTIONAL “FAILURE” AT BATES ACADEMY???
In yesterday’s news round-up, I talked about the shocking situation at the Bates Academy, a Detroit Public Schools pre-K-8 school that is considered their shining star. And yet the school is full of water, mold, and other hazardous conditions and students there have missed upwards of three weeks of school largely because of the building’s horrible condition.
Tamaya Dooley is a parent of a Bates student who has been outspoken about the deplorable conditions there. She spoke at a Detroit School Board meeting this week to bring attention to serious situation at Bates Academy, something parents have been trying to do for some time. She shared her concerns via several Facebook posts:
My daughter attends Bates Academy School in Detroit. Bates has been named a Reward School by the Michigan Department of Education. Bates has received a grade of “A” by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and has been ranked in the Top 20 Schools in Detroit in a report by Excellent Schools Detroit. Bates is ranked 96 on the State of Michigan Department of Education’s Top to Bottom List which makes it the highest ranked school in the Detroit City School district . . . Our school is a school of excellence, yet our children are in a deteriorated building that is now unsafe. After numerous power outages, which continue to plague the school, the school as of today has standing water in the rooms and hallways, burst pipes, leaking ceilings, no heat, mold and possibly asbestos issues, no phones in the classes for teachers, etc. One of the teachers even has mushrooms growing in her floor tile…
Bates Academy teachers and parents had discussions with the DPS Board at last night’s meeting. In my plea with the Board, I restated the obvious: our school is in disrepair. Our children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach in this kind of environment…Bates students have had at least 14 days off with more than 50% of those days due to building issues. Also, parents are struggling. There are students being left at home because there is no support for them while parents are working. Also, parents may be losing their jobs because they have to stay with their children. Our children deserve more than this, they deserve to be educated in a stable, healthy environment.
Here are a couple of more photos taken by Bates teachers:
Last night, Fox News 2 picked up the story:
Note that the report says that Bates has had THREE WEEKS of missed classes this school year.
There is one particular bit I want to highlight. It’s this comment from one of the parents:
If you want people to come to Detroit and send their kids to these schools, you have to at least take care of the gold standard here and Bates IS that gold standard. But the facility here doesn’t match up.
A commenter on yesterday’s post added this to the discussion:
I am perplexed why this school receives no support from DPS even though it’s a high performing school, ranked 96 in the state of Michigan top to bottom by Mich Dept of Ed. Could it be they are trying to push the strong parent base out? So they can demonstrate a decline in performance?
This is exactly the point that many of us have been making. Why would you allow this to happen at what is obviously the crown jewel in the DPS system? Is it so that DPS schools can be declared “failed” and given over to a for-profit charter? Is it, like the EAA, “designed to fail”???
MEAP SCORES OUT ON JANUARY 27TH, WON’T BE RELEASED UNTIL MARCH
I learned yesterday that the Michigan MEAP scores have been released to school administrators and others since January 27th. However, they won’t be released until March so that schools can review them for accuracy. This is not unusual but it was delayed this year due to a new website built last year that allows local districts to access their school- and student-level information. The website’s development was delayed which delayed when the scores were available. Therefore, the schools have been given extra time.
What’s interesting about the timeline is that Republicans in the legislature started their mad dash to pass expansion of the EAA just a short time after the MEAP scores were available. The scores came out on January 27th. The following week I learned from a state legislator that there would be movement on the bill the following week and, sure enough, just two weeks after the MEAP scores were out, a bill that had sat dormant for months suddenly became the top priority in the state House. Do these scores show that EAA schools are NOT making progress despite the claims of Chancellor Covington and his staff? We’ll know in March. If they show that progress is NOT being made, this may be why some Republicans were pushing so hard to get the expansion of the EAA pushed through NOW before there is proof that the EAA isn’t making things better.
UPCOMING PROTEST RALLY AT EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20TH, 2014
Finally, the EMU student organization Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education along with EMU faculty and staff are staging a protest rally next Thursday to continue the pressure on EMU Regents to break their partnership with the EAA. I’ll have more information on this as it becomes available.
ACTION ALERT RALLY AGAINST CORPORATE EDUCATION REFORM
President Martin secretly signed into existence the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). Eastern Michigan University is currently a crucial site of struggle for the entire state. The EAA is designed to break teacher unions, privatize the management of schools, and cultivate consumer dependency on corporate technology. It also strips local communities of any democratic control, targets communities of color, and has lacked any semblance of transparency from the beginning. This, on top of the administration firing teachers from the college of education demonstrations the hollowness of their commitment to “education first.” Without EMU’s participation the EAA can not exist at this time. Please join us, and the greater community to protest EMU’s administration and demand they cut the contract with the EAA.
Join us on Febraury 20th at Welsh Hall on EMU’s campus (right across from the water tower) at 10 am to demand justice for the students of Detroit, and to stop the trend towards corporate education reform.