Detroit, Education — December 9, 2015 at 10:49 am

How much more of a failure does the Education Achievement Authority have to be before EMU & Gov Snyder end it for good?


Yesterday, despite massive protests by faculty and students, the Eastern Michigan University chose to stay in their interlocal agreement with the Education Achievement Authority, Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed experiment on Detroit children.

Here’s how they explained themselves:

Mike Morris, the chair of Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents, said if he had to choose between staying the course with the school’s commitment to its interlocal agreement with the Education Achievement Authority, and having a happy faculty, staff and student body, he’d choose to keep the contract with the EAA.

“I see the eyes of those kids (in Detroit schools) who are having a chance to be successful and I hear their parents talk about ‘This is different and so much better. I really think my children have a chance to be successful,'” he said.

“Voting to leave would be easy. Staying and continuing to fight for the future of these kids is the right thing to do,” Morris told WXYZ Detroit.

These are interesting statements given that less than a week ago, the Regents put out an official statement distancing themselves from the failed school district, saying they have little to nothing to do with how it is run saying, “To be clear, Eastern Michigan University does not direct, manage or get involved in decisions made by the Educational Achievement Authority … Eastern’s involvement in the EAA is very limited and does not involve decisions about which schools go in to or out of the EAA or any other management or operational decisions.”

So, they claim to be making a big difference in the lives of these school children through their involvement while at the same time saying they have only limited involvement. This, of course, is completely inane and asinine.

The answer to why they stayed with the EAA is quite obvious to those who are paying attention. Seven of the eight Regents were appointed by Gov. Snyder so they owe him for this tidy little resume item that will benefit their careers if they don’t screw it up by doing the right thing for Detroit kids.

One wonders just how much more of a failure the EAA needs to be before EMU and Gov. Snyder end it once and for all. The “school district for misfit schools” was created in 2011 shortly after Gov. Snyder took office. Right off the bat they hired John Covington to run it as Chancellor. Just weeks later we found out he had faked a conflict to get out of his contract with his former employer, Kansas City schools, a school district that lost its accreditation less than one month after Covington fled to Detroit.

It was too soon to put the brakes on it, we were told. Give it a chance.

After the first year, a quarter of EAA’s students were pulled from the district by their parents who saw nothing but a complete failure to educate kids.

However, it was too soon to end the EAA, we were told. Give it a chance.

During the second year, countless examples of students and teachers facing violence were reported and evidence came to light that the EAA was violating federal law when it came to kids with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Following that, EMU’s Dean of the College of Education resigned in protest of the university’s involvement with the failed experiment.

However, it was too soon to stop the EAA, we were told. Give it a chance.

In the middle of their third year, I ran the first of over a dozen interviews with teachers, former teachers, and former administrators in the EAA all recounting abuse of teachers and students, malfeasance, corruption, and utter & epic failure of leadership by John Covington and his team. The EAA’s Teacher of the Year even quit, saying, “I was compromising my moral integrity and I couldn’t live with myself.”

However, it was too soon to put an end to the EAA, we were told. Give it a chance.

After MEAP testing results were published in 2014, it became abundantly clear that EAA students were not only failing to make academic progress, they were actually getting WORSE, showing “significant declines”. Half the State Board of Education came out in opposition to expanding the EAA. In the meantime, more and more and more and more and more teachers and administrators stepped forward to share their EAA horror stories with me.

However, now was not the time to end the EAA, we were told. Give it a chance.

Though Republicans tried and tried and tried, they were unable to garner enough support to expand the EAA statewide, even though billionaire Dick DeVos threatened to fund primary challengers to recalcitrant Republicans. Then, in the spring of 2014, news of massive expenditures on furniture and travel expenses came to light. Shortly thereafter, EAA Chancellor John Covington abruptly resigned to “take care of his mother”. He, of course, cashed out with a hefty severance package.

However, we must stick with the EAA, we were told. Give it a chance.

Teachers at school districts around Michigan began refusing to take student teachers from EMU’s College of Education, citing their partnership with the EAA. These students were hit hard by this. News began to emerge of profiteering by the software vendor who provides the EAA with its “student-centered learning” software that relegates teachers to the role of glorified babysitters as kids spend their time in front of laptop computers to “learn”. The company, Agilix, later began using the EAA in its marketing program after having beta tested their BUZZ software on Detroit school children.

However, the EAA just needs more time, we were told. Give it a chance.

Shortly after being hired to replace John Covington as Chancellor, Veronica Conforme sent out deceptive letters to the parents of students in districts outside of the EAA trying to recruit them into enrolling their kids. She later was forced to apologize. The following summer it was revealed that under Conforme’s “leadership”, teachers were being cheated out of incentive pay the EAA had received millions of dollars in federal grants to give out.

During this time, the EMU Board of Regents hung on tight to their partnership with the EAA, setting forth four parameters by which they would judge the EAA over the next year.

The EAA is working out the kinks, we were told. Give it a chance.

So, here we are, a year later. And EMU is STILL maintaining their partnership with this historically failed experiment.

What on earth is it going to take for them to admit it’s a failure and end it for good?

[Photo/graphic by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]