Education — February 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

Some things I’ve learned about the Education Achievement Authority along the way


No interview write-up today, though I’m actually doing an interview. The interviews take 2-3 hours to write up so I’m taking a break. However, I thought I’d share a few odds and ends that I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks that haven’t, at least so far, made it into the pieces I’ve done on the Education Achievement Authority.

  • So far 16 teachers have reached out to me. A couple just sent me statements either in email or in a comment on the blog. All of the others reached out to me through email. If you have a story to tell, there’s a contact link at the top left of the blog page or you can simply email me
  • Last week, three EAA schools held open enrollment open houses. At at least one of them, nobody showed up. Nobody.
  • I’ve been asked why I don’t just go to the EAA schools and see for myself what’s going. The answer should be obvious: they only allow visitors to see what they want to see and control the visit tightly, even going so far as to revise the daily schedule, including making the students each lunch as early as 10:30 a.m. or as late as 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. so that they wouldn’t be in the cafeteria during the tours. Teachers report that children have wet their pants because they were not allowed to go to the restroom because no children were permitted in the hallways during visits. Code words were even used over the PA system to alert teachers about surprise visits.
  • Back in December, a group called Democracy Builders out of New York that is part of the Democracy Prep Charter School came to Detroit and conducted a “canvas” within the EAA school district boundaries. The canvas included EAA teachers and other adults although, so far, I have been unable to determine the exact intent of the time they spent here. Here is the schedule:

    Click for a larger version

    Democracy Builders describes itself in this way:

    The Democracy Builders training model prepares parents for civic engagement and uses a “train-the-trainer” approach to dramatically impact communities through grass-roots advocacy. Parents have used these skills to help secure facilities for their schools, increase the charter cap, eliminate the funding-freeze on public charter schools, and pass the school reform measures needed to help win New York’s Race To The Top grant. Parents have made tens of thousands of phone calls, mailed thousands of postcards, connected with thousands of other parents in person and on the phone, conducted dozens of legislative office visits, and given testimony and dozens of public hearings.

    The highlighted part there shows that this is yet another group working to expand charter schools, a national effort that is harming public schools and fattening the wallets of for-profit corporations by funneling tax dollars into their bank accounts. Democracy Builders have had revenues of over $325,000 for 2010 and 2011 according to their 990 tax forms. So what were they doing in Detroit working with the EAA? Were Michigan tax dollars used to pay them to come to Detroit to recruit students into the EAA? Why were teachers taken out of the classroom to participate? I have reached out them by email but have not gotten a response. Their leader Princess Lyles tweeted about their Detroit visit while she was but doesn’t explain what it was, exactly, that they were doing here:

    Oddly, they have a non-functional website.

    I’ll be following up on this mystery. If you know anything about it, please contact me.

  • A teacher of the year at one of the EAA schools quit the EAA because of the way teachers are treated and because the EAA model is failing Detroit kids. I’ll have much more on that this week.
  • Never in my life have I talked to a group of employees who speak about being “written up” by their employer as much as I have over the past two weeks while speaking to EAA teachers. Nearly every one of them talks about being “written up” or having been threatened with being “written up” by EAA administrators on a regular basis. It is clearly one of the main ways EAA administrators keep teachers in fear of them. One teacher I spoke with was written up twice. Once for a dress code violation. For wearing a hoodie. SHE didn’t wear a hoodie. One of her students did. And she was written up for it. The other time she was written up for damage that students had done to her classroom. The damage happened when she was home with the flu and not actually in the classroom. I’m not kidding.

That’s all for now. Much more to come this week at Eclectablog.

NOTE: My reporting on the Education Achievement Authority involves multiple posts. You can read all of my coverage of the EAA by clicking HERE.