For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying to ensure that the utter and tragic failure of Gov. Snyder’s experiment on Detroit school children – the Education Achievement Authority – does not go down the memory hole. I told the story in 127 Eclectablog headlines and reminded people that these failures have been stacking up for four years during which we are repeatedly told to “give them more time”.
And still the evidence continues to accumulate. This morning the Detroit Free Press reported a statistic so shocking that I’m surprised it’s not making national news. Their analysis of the testing results from the new M-STEP standardized test showed that only a single EAA fourth-grader passed the math portion of the test:
Detailed results from Michigan’s tough new standardized exam paint a worrisome picture for many schools in Detroit and will likely boost state efforts to fix what many see as a broken educational system in the city.
Just one fourth-grader in schools run by the Education Achievement Authority — a state district created to turn around the worst-performing schools in the state — passed the math portion of the exam, according to results released this morning. Overall, only 1.2% of the students in the district passed in math and 5.6% passed in English language arts. In some grades and subjects, not one student passed.
This “district for wayward schools” has fifteen schools in it, nine of which are elementary schools and yet only one of those fourth-graders was academically advanced enough to simply pass the test. It’s an astonishing statistic and shows once again just how profoundly the EAA is failing the students it is tasked to educate and it’s a blot on our fine state that these children are being consigned to a life of inadequate education because the leaders of this state are so unwilling to admit they’ve made a mistake that they refuse to waver from the path they are on.
I’ll keep saying this until it’s no longer necessary: with an education system that is so provably a failure, it’s time we quit trying to do it on the cheap and actually start making real investments in schools that are failing to properly educate Michigan kids whether they are in Detroit or elsewhere. We need an “Education Surge” where we plow as many resources as are needed into these school systems to turn them around as quickly as is humanly possible. We need to hire the best teachers around and adequately compensate them for the difficult task we’re asking them to do. We need to staff the schools with administrators that will support and enhance the work of the teachers. We need to implement proven education solutions with cutting edge technology, superior classroom and social support, and house them in facilities that children want to be in.
Instead we’ve done the opposite of all of these things. Our state government has slashed education budgets to the point where even our worst-performing schools don’t have the resources to do it right. The EAA was staffed largely with inexperienced teachers and poor leaders. They used EAA students as guinea pig beta testers for unproven education software. There was grift and corruption and poor oversight and waste. It’s a case study in how NOT to education children, much less children who are in a difficult situation to begin with.
And yet many of our state legislators want to expand the EAA statewide. The university that is their partner maintains the relationship but has done nothing to contribute to helping it succeed. And our Gov. smiles for the cameras as he lies about the EAA’s record.
One child. A single fourth-grader. After four years of experimentation, that is how many kids in their nine elementary schools know basic math skills enough to simply pass the test. If that’s not enough of an indictment to bring the entire system to a screeching halt and trigger a serious, concerted effort to invest in our struggling schools, then I fear nothing ever will be. In fact, if it doesn’t, it will prove what I have long feared: that the EAA was, from its inception, designed to fail.