Education — March 26, 2014 at 10:00 am

Open Letter to Eastern Michigan University Regents regarding EMU’s partnership with the EAA from a faculty member


“Your support for the EAA is a black-mark on this university’s history”

Yesterday, Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents met and, as part of the meeting, they took public comments. Below is the commentary of Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the EMU Special Education Department, Steve Camron. It does a fantastic job of outlining why EMU’s partnership with Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit students, the Education Achievement Authority, is so antithetical to the University’s legacy and purpose. I have written before about EMU’s history as a teacher education institution:

When Eastern Michigan University was founded in 1849, it was called the Michigan State Normal School. A normal school was a place to teach students to be teachers and to establish teaching standards or norms:

A normal school was a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Its purpose was to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name. The normal schools were to train teachers for common schools, which were being established rapidly in new towns in the state of Michigan. In 1849, when Michigan State Normal School was established, Michigan had only been a state for 12 years.

Today, EMU’s well-established reputation as a university that produces consummate educators is being diminished and tarnished by its association with Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment being conducted on students in Detroit, the Education Achievement Authority.

I have learned from sources in the Senate that Senate Republicans are actually a long way from having enough votes to pass the bill that will expand the EAA statewide. When the House passed it last week, they made significant changes to the Senate-passed version and there is apparently not enough support for the new version. Because the legislature goes on a three-week spring break starting tomorrow, we now have time to continue reaching out to our legislators to convince them NOT to expand this misguided education model that is demonstrably failing Detroit students. Please use the time to reach out to your senators and representatives.

Here is Professor Camron’s letter:

Public Comment for March 25, 2014 EMU/Board of Regents Meeting

Thank you for the opportunity to give public comment today.

I speak to you as proud EMU Alumni, faculty member, and a member of the coalition opposing the EAA and Eastern’s affiliation with it. In December, we put forth a compelling case for the Regents and University Administration to persuade you make the hard decision to dissolve the interlocal agreement creating the EAA. We see this as necessary to maintain the integrity of the College of Education and University. In return, we got polite listening and polished responses.

Our students come to Eastern Michigan University because they hope for a better life and opportunities to grow, learn and serve their communities. I am constantly reminded that they chose Eastern because of our reputation for quality education and a strong commitment to public education.

We have a long and proud history of teacher preparation. By your support for the EAA you demonstrate a preference for the employment of untrained, unqualified Teach-for-America temporary facilitators over our College of Education graduates. Students in Detroit Public Schools deserve more than the least qualified teachers and a computer interface! Your support for the EAA is a black-mark on this history.

Our Special Education Department is about to celebrate 100 years of preparing special education teachers. Your support of the EAA is especially grievous, in light of the verified reports of former EAA teachers about the cavalier manner in which the EAA officials treat the educational rights of students with disabilities. We expect better.

Affiliation with the politically-motivated, dysfunctionally deployed, and pedagogically unsupportable EAA continues to tarnish our reputation in Michigan and the nation. Northville Public Schools recently joined Taylor Public Schools and all the public schools in Washtenaw County in boycotting EMU student teachers because of your support of the EAA. The Board of Education for the Ann Arbor Public Schools has unanimously joined the chorus asking you to do the right, the moral thing. Your actions are negatively affecting our students!

The development, operations and instructional practices of the EAA run counter to our College’s mission, values and teaching. We believe this will result in fewer students coming to Eastern, and not just the College of Education.

Insistence to stay affiliated with the EAA indicates to the world that President Martin, Provost Schatzel and the Regents reject the overwhelming advice of your faculty!

Last December I called upon Regents Stapleton and Morris to seriously consider resigning their appointment to this Board of Regents. Your uncritical support of the EAA undermines your University, and represents a serious conflict of interest.

Please take the following bold measures: Regent Morris and Provost Schatzel should immediately resign from the Executive Committee and from the Board of the EAA, and then the Regents should vote to immediately withdraw from the 2011 inter-local agreement that created the EAA.

Steven C. Camron, JD, Chair, COE Council
Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator
Special Education Department, College of Education