Education, Guest Post — December 15, 2014 at 6:59 am

GUEST POST: EMU faculty honor University President Susan Martin’s courage & leadership and ask for her help re: the EAA


Dr. Stephen Wellinski has been on the forefront of the battle to end the interlocal agreement between Eastern Michigan University and the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). EMU’s connection to Gov. Snyder’s failed experiment with Detroit students is a stain on an otherwise well-earned reputation as a university that teaches teachers and Dr. Wellinski’s leadership on this issue is an important element in the overall effort to send the EAA to the rubbish bin of history. He has written several guest posts on Eclectablog and today, once again, I turn over the blog to him.

During the most recent meeting of the EMU Board of Regents, faculty and students alike spoke out against the partnership with the EAA. In the end, however, it didn’t matter. The Board of Regents, composed largely of people appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, ignored the wishes of the faculty and students and continued the misguided and reputation-damaging interlocal agreement with the EAA.

In addition to the students and faculty, the president of EMU, Dr. Susan Martin, herself spoke out against the agreement and urged the Regents to end the toxic relationship. She, too, was ignored.

Here is Dr. Wellinski’s letter to President Martin where he honors her courage and leadership and asks for just a little bit more.

President Martin,

On December 5th, the politically appointed Board of Regents intentionally placed our beloved Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in a merciless stranglehold. I need not remind you of the darkness that engulfed our community with their simpleminded choice. But, it is important to publicly recognize that a beacon of light did appear that afternoon – YOUR courageous step in recommending the severance of the inter-local agreement that establishes the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA).

This step not only gives the over 2200 signatories of the Preserve the Integrity of EMU petition (many of whom are EMU alumni, students, faculty, staff AND administrators) hope for a legitimate fight to take back our university from the political hacks who are masquerading as stewards of a state university. But, it is also an opportunity for you – an opportunity to cement your legacy as the most influential leader that Eastern Michigan University has had in decades. Your position as president affords you unique opportunities to direct actions that serve your declared vision for a separation from the EAA. Let me be clear, I do not believe it is your responsibility alone to safeguard this historical state university. But, I can assure you that you have a community (several communities) who are ready to shoulder the load with you. Unfortunately, we will have to be mindful of the group of rascals who cower from their responsibilities to Eastern Michigan University. Also, it is important to note that our work in guiding the EMU community to a post-EAA world does not have us ignoring our partners in the public schools. And, it certainly does not discard OUR students and OUR families in Detroit. With your committed leadership and declared vision, we will revitalize Eagle Nation in the spirit of The Michigan State Normal College that enhances the many communities across Michigan.

To help Eastern Michigan University move into a post-EAA world, we respectfully invite you to lead on 3 actions:

  1. Authorize and Support a College of Education-led Summit on Public Schooling: Given the myths that persist about public education, in particular myths that rationalize the need for false options like the Educational Achievement Authority, and, given that Eastern Michigan University is the historical home of the public school teacher, let us welcome home our public education partners to study the issues impacting public education in Michigan. As part of this study, direct us to develop a white paper that is grounded in legitimate research and best practices that you would offer as a guide for public policy in the state of Michigan. This summit would also provide you an opportunity to chair a forum in which we re-adjudicate the case against the EAA – a case similar to the one we made at September’s special meeting. Let us illuminate the fullest story of the EAA, the inter-local agreement, and the impact on Eastern Michigan University for the citizens of Michigan.
  2. Authorize and Support an Eastern Michigan University ~ Detroit Public Schools Conclave: Given the historical connections between Eastern Michigan University and Detroit Public Schools, let us be strong partners with DPS as they work to recover from Governor Snyder’s racist experimentation. Guide us in developing an action plan that is supportive of the Detroit Public Schools students and teachers. An important structure to facilitate our partnership and the implementation of such an action plan would be an Urban Studies Collaborative with our partners in DPS AND Wayne State. This collaborative could utilize existing EMU initiatives (e.g., The SEMIS Coalition, Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows, Urban Educational Studies Concentration Doctoral program, and The Writing Project) and the given support structures already in place through the Detroit campus.
  3. Direct The General Counsel’s Office for Eastern Michigan University to Review The Inter-Local Agreement for Possible Legal Breaches: Given the EAA has acted consistently in bad faith, a legal review is warranted and should be pursued. A legal review that begins with the following areas:
    1. The systematic and intentional violation of special needs students;
    2. The unilateral choice to recruit new students that changed the agreement away from establishing “turn-around schools” that support struggling schools; and
    3. The unethical experimentation on vulnerable populations that violates federal human participant guidelines — as evidenced by the beta-testing of the Buzz platform.

On December 5th, you declared a vision for Eastern Michigan University – We heard, applaud, and stand with you. Now, it is time to put our collective efforts to create a post-EAA world. We look forward to your leadership in making that vision a lived reality.

Thank you for all your continued efforts/support.

Steve Wellinski