Education — April 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

An open letter to EMU leadership from a former student, current teacher regarding partnership with the EAA


Eastern Michigan University is under increasing pressure from public education advoctates, its own faculty and student body, and from former students to end its partnership with Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit students known as the Education Achievement Authority. I have published open letters to the EMU Regents HERE and HERE

The impact is being felt. There are now multiple school districts where teachers are refusing to accept student teachers from EMU’s College of Education:

  • Ann Arbor Public Schools
  • Washtenaw County Education Association Member Schools
    • Chelsea
    • Dexter
    • Lincoln
    • Manchester
    • Saline
    • Whitmore Lake
  • Taylor
  • Northville – unconfirmed
  • Wayne Westland – unconfirmed
  • Livonia – unconfirmed

Today we have another open letter, this one to EMU President Susan Martin from an EMU College of Education graduate and current teacher Cynthia Nicholas. It is reprinted below with permission.

UPDATE: I wanted to highlight the comment of Judy below. If you are an EMU alumna or alumnus, please give it your considered attention.

Got my quarterly EMU alumni request for donations and sent it back with no donation and my reason for declining, the ongoing EAA affiliation. They anticipate one thing when these request forms are returned and will take note of short statements that come back with no check or bank card info., which I think may be as effective as a well crafted letter.

Here is Cynthia’s letter:

March 28, 2014
Ms. Susan Martin
EMU President
202 Welch Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
RE: Teaching and Learning

Ms. Martin,
It is with deep regret that I read in the Eastern Echo last night that you wish to continue your involvement with the EAA affiliation you hold currently. Having been taught that education would take me where I need to be, I received an education from EMU.

I am 45 years old and received my Associate Degree in 2002 from Schoolcraft; in 2005 I received a Bachelor’s with certification K-5(6-8 self contained), BX (Language Arts 6-8), DX (Science 6-8), 2009 a MA in Learning Disabilities and in 2011 a MA in Early Childhood all from EMU; currently I am working on my certification in Autism at EMU.

Having spent years subbing, in 2006-2007 I left MI to teach in North Carolina to receive teaching experience; I taught 6th grade Math and Science. North Carolina hires a lot of individuals with emergency certification; they do not have a teaching degree, but do have a degree in another area. I was working with individuals that did not have the love for teaching. “Teachers” were walking off the job, throwing students backpacks out windows, and drinking out of flasks… not the sort of colleagues I had envisioned working with during my career. I began subbing once again upon my return to MI and a year later accepted a position teaching Early Childhood Special Education in a district near my home. After much consideration and contemplation I made the decision to apply to Detroit Public Schools. It was 2010-2011 school year that I began my career working in Detroit Public Schools. As of the middle of last year I had been teaching Middle School English, and I currently hold a position in the Early Childhood Developmentally Delayed Program.

I drive ~70 miles one way to teach in a district that I believe in, DPS. When I leave the district I drive to EMU and spend another hour plus driving home from EMU. Wayne State is just down the road from where I teach, but my belief in EMU was very strong and it was worth the drive and time to get the best education I could for the benefit of my students. When you back the EAA it makes me wonder why I stay.

My colleagues are very dedicated to the education of the students, and DPS has all the whistles and bells available to help in the education of students. … I encourage others to “join DPS.”

Instead of standing behind EAA (an institution that has a large turnover rate, with teachers that do NOT have a teaching license) support the teachers you put out. Right now Northville, Taylor, and Washtenaw County are not looking for teachers from EMU. What does that say about us? Why are we limited to where we can teach because we attended EMU? It is time for both EMU, and the professionals like me who attend EMU, to look at their choices. I left North Carolina Schools because they reminded me of EAA – a place that I do not want to be – EAA gives teaching a bad name because these “teachers” have no background in teaching, there is no love and passion for the career. I spent over a hundred thousand dollars to get an education to put me in the classroom.

I really encourage you to reconsider your thinking in regards to EAA and I would be happy to sit down with you and discuss this further if you so wish. I hope you are able to revitalize my belief in the education of teachers that EMU puts out, and that I am once again proud to tell others where I have received my degrees from. I have a decision to make on where I will complete a doctorate. I certainly hope that EMU restores my confidence so that I may, once again, speak with pride about my alma mater as a place where others should seek their education.

Yours Educationally,
Cynthia Nicholas