Detroit, Education — March 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

UPDATED x3: As Republicans twist arms for EAA expansion votes, Detroit Democrat Harvey Santana is helping them out


What gives, Harvey?

[Photo by Anne Savage, special to Eclectablog]

Yesterday was another day without a vote on HB 4369, the legislation that would expand Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s failed experiment on Detroit children known as the Education Achievement Authority. I’ve spoken to multiple legislators who say that bill proponents are close to having enough votes. However, there is so much evidence that the EAA is failing Detroit children rather than helping them that even some Republicans are distancing themselves and refusing to vote for expansion.

(UPDATE: MIRS news service is reporting that Republicans DO have enough votes and will vote today.)

UPDATE 3: As of 3:30 p.m. debate is happening on the floor of the House with a vote imminent. I must say how impressed I am by the House Democrats. Their eloquence on why the EAA is wrong for our children makes me proud to be a Democrat.

One Republican is quoted as saying, “If even half the things that teachers are saying are true, there is no way I’m voting for this.”

As Republican leaders and the bill’s sponsors pull their colleagues into the GOP caucus room for some serious arm twisting, one Democrat stands alone* in his support of the EAA: state House Representative Harvey Santana. Disturbingly, Santana is a legislator from Detroit.

I have been a big fan of Rep. Santana for quite a while now. I always enjoyed his radio interviews with Tony Trupiano when he was a guest. I couldn’t help but smile when he pushed back against Republican overreach time after time, not always without consequence. His leadership on the issue of holding pet owners accountable for animal abuse has been outstanding. He has been, in general, a fierce advocate for his Detroit constituents and a Democrat in every sense of the word.

All of which makes his support of expanding the EAA that much more inexplicable.

The facts are in. We have the data. The EAA is failing Detroit children. It’s not helping even a little bit. Heck, it’s not even maintaining the status quo. Just so we’re all clear on that. Wayne State University Professor Tom Pedroni has done the analysis and there is simply no question that this experiment has failed:

[W]hat do the cohort data tell us?

In all, MDE successfully matched 1,377 students from their 2012 math MEAP performance to their 2013 math MEAP performance, and 1400 students from their 2012 reading MEAP performance to their 2013 reading MEAP performance. The matched math and reading cohorts, according to MDE, constituted 86.8% and 87.7% respectively of all 2013 EAA testers on those two tests.

The tracking of those students shows us, convincingly (see Table I and II below), that the majority of EAA students failed to demonstrate even marginal progress toward proficiency on the State’s MEAP exams in math and reading. Among students testing this year who did not demonstrate proficiency on the MEAP math exam last year, 78.3% showed either no progress toward proficiency (44.1%) or actual declines (34.2%). In reading, 58.5% showed either no progress toward proficiency (27.3%) or actual declines (31.2%). […]

The portrait is even grimmer for the small number of students who had entered the EAA already demonstrating proficiency on the MEAP.

During the 2013 administration of the MEAP math test, there were a total of only 56 test-takers who had scored proficient the year before. Of those 56 students, only 10 stayed at the same level of proficiency or improved (see Table I). That means that 46 of those 56 previously proficient students actually declined—became less proficient. 26 of those 56 had what the MDE terms significant declines. Another way of saying this is that of those 2013 test takers who had scored proficient the year before, 82.1% declined in proficiency in just one year with the EAA. Only 7.1% increased in proficiency, while 10.7 percent stayed the same.

In fact, only 19 of the 56 students who tested as proficient in math in 2012 remain proficient now.

Representative Santana has this data. He has had it explained to him in-depth. He is choosing to support the expansion of the EAA anyway. I know that we all want to “do something!” but this is the wrong thing to do. It’s harming students in Detroit — some of our state’s most impoverished and vulnerable students, in fact — and it is just one more nail in the coffin of our precious and essential public school system.

You can contact Rep. Santana’s office at (517) 373-6990 or email him at Let him know that this is the wrong time to suddenly become a Republican ally and ask him to VOTE NO on HB 4369. The children in Detroit deserve better. Something different, to be sure, but not this.

Please don’t wait. The vote could be scheduled at any time after noon today.

*Yes, I know that John Olumba is considered by some to be a “Democrat” and is supporting expansion, too, but Rep. Olumba no longer caucuses with the Democrats and calls himself an Independent. Sadly, he too is a state House Representative from Detroit. In his announcement that he wants to be considered an Independent, he said, “I declare myself to be a member of the Independent Urban Democracy Caucus that recognizes and puts as a priority the poor and disenfranchised persons of this state.”

Please ask Rep. Olumba to do just that. He can be contacted at 517-373-0144 or via email at

UPDATE 2: Democratic House Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes has an eloquent repudiation of any expansion of the EAA HERE.

Please know that I oppose any expansion of the EAA. The facts simply do not support it.

As legendary U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Countless concerns have been raised by children, parents, teachers and administrators.

It is a failed experiment that does not provide children the education they deserve.

Earlier this week I spoke with every superintendent in Saginaw County and they shared their concerns and asked me to oppose an expansion of the EAA.

The problem is not just that students are not improving.

Even worse, the data reveals that many students who had demonstrated proficiency when they entered the EAA, have regressed and are no longer proficient in these subjects. […]

As a mother of two young sons, please know that I oppose HB 4369 and will continue my efforts to advance meaningful reforms that put our children first.