They can hear you now
After reports that Republicans would try to rush through a vote to expand Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment in Detroit – the Education Achievement Authority – they chose not today.
GOP spokesperson Ari Adler was typically snide and derisive when asked about it.
“The campaign against this bill is clearly well organized but as misinformed as always,” Ari Adler, spokesman for House Republicans, said in an email. “We haven’t voted because people need time to review the new version of the bill.”
It’s interesting to hear him describe the pushback against expanding this horrible travesty as “well organized” since, for the most part, there has been little written about recently it outside of this blog and few groups organizing around it.
Today, however, that changed. The Democrats in the state House and Senate are mobilizing. My own Representative Gretchen Driskell sent an email to her constituents firmly declaring her opposition to the expansion:
I want to thank all of you who have reached out to me and my colleagues to express your opposition to House Bill 4369, which would expand the controversial Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to a statewide takeover of our state’s most vulnerable schools. […]
This would be devastating to our state’s public education system and our children’s future!
Many of you have contacted legislators to express your disapproval of expanding the EAA. I’m truly grateful for your advocacy and commitment on behalf of our children.
Please know that I remain opposed to HB 4369 and will continue my efforts to replace this legislation with meaningful policy that puts our children first — HB 5268 and HB 5269.
Senator Hoon-Yun Hopgood also issued a press release which links to the original interviews I conducted with EAA teachers:
Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D – Taylor) today issued the following statement in response to the introduction of substitute legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives, House Bill 4369, to expand the failed Education Achievement Authority (EAA). Just last month, reports of interviews with EAA teachers were released, documenting extensive accounts of physical abuse of students, along with inadequacies in programming.
“Though I have been vehemently opposed to the expansion of the Education Achievement Authority from the very moment the legislation was introduced over a year ago, I stand more certain now than ever that the Authority is inept at educating or even safeguarding its own students, let alone capable of expanding statewide,” said Senator Hopgood. “Since opening their doors a year ago the EAA’s enrollment declined by nearly 25%, over 1700 students left after the first year; when Inkster and Buena Vista Schools saw similar declines in enrollment, the Governor moved to dissolve them. In fact, the Governor’s own dissolution legislation substantiates a 10% decline in enrollment as grounds for dissolution, so according to the Governor’s own metric, the EAA should be dissolved, not expanded across the state.
“Even worse, reported interviews with EAA teachers have clearly demonstrated physical abuse of children in the schools, on top of innumerable inadequacies in programming and record keeping – the EAA is not only a detriment to its students’ educational opportunities, it poses a very real risk to their health and wellbeing,” Hopgood continued. “While we certainly need to find a solution for our state’s lowest performing schools, the EAA absolutely is not it.”
Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton and Senator Hopgood will hold a press conference tomorrow to highlight the issue even more.
State Representatives Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods), Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) and Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), along with other members of the House Democrats’ School Reform Task Force and House Education Committee, will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13 in Leader Greimel’s Capitol Office to discuss the new proposal to expand the Education Achievement Authority, the vehicle the state uses to take over troubled schools. Already overseeing 15 Detroit schools, the EAA has failed to show any educational merit, while students, parents and teachers at those schools have raised numerous academic, safety and ethical concerns.
Even the AFL-CIO is getting in on the action:
With a 24 percent enrollment decline, escalating reports of mismanagement and educational malpractice, it’s clear that the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) is a failed experiment.
Yet, some House Republicans are still pushing for EAA expansion, and their proposal could come up for a vote as early as TODAY.
Contact your representative NOW. Insist that they opposed to any attempt to force community schools into the EAA. Please send an email or make a phone call to your representative.
This bill would:
- Allow the EAA to take over up to 50 public schools across the state that are deemed to be in the bottom 5% according to a formula that is dependent on high stakes testing data
- Terminate the collective bargaining contracts of school employees
- Jeopardize Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System as EAA employees would not be in MPSERS
Take a moment on your break to urge a NO vote on EAA expansion. Tomorrow may be too late. Click here to email your representative on behalf of students, teachers and schools.
Karla Swift, President
It’s up to us to keep up the pressure. Share the reporting I’ve done at Eclectablog. They can go to http://www.eclectablog.com/tag/eaa to see all of the posts in reverse chronological order. There’s an EAA link at the top of each page of the blog that takes you there, as well.
We know the proponents of the flawed and failed experiment are worried. Reasonable people on both sides of the aisle are beginning to see this for the mistake that it is, a mistake designed to line the pockets of the vendors of the computer software that is used in the EAA, further decimate our public schools, and to weaken teachers unions.
Here’s a clear sign that they are very worried, the current version of the bill (PDF) no longer contains the phrase “Education Achievement Authority” or “EAA”. Those names have become toxic in our state.
UPDATE: This legislation allows for 12 more schools to be added to the EAA this year and as many as 50 altogether next year. Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons who sponsored the bill admits that this is a cataclysmic program. She told Gongwer News Service the legislation focuses on elementary school kids because “ocus on elementary schools because younger students will be able to adapt easier to having ‘their worlds turned upside down’ versus students who have been educated in a failing school for more than 10 years entering a completely new program.”
“The thing we cannot do is keep the status quo,” she said. “That is the one thing that is proven to not work.”
This last statement is the “feel good” aspect to this legislation for some lawmakers. Things are bad and “we have to do something”. The EAA allows them to feel like they are “doing something” despite the fact that it is worse than the alternative and other options, maybe not so easy or profitable for private corporations, but other options DO exist.
Keep calling, emailing, sharing, and informing folks. They haven’t set a date on the vote because they do not HAVE the votes.