Running government like a business: Snyder admin. invents another way to take over schools: “School District CEO”


With Emergency Managers now a four-letter word in Michigan, the Snyder administration has come up with a new way to take over public schools without having to invoke the epithet. In their on-going effort to “run government like a business”, they have appointed a “School District Chief Executive Officer (CEO)” for East Detroit Public Schools:

A chief executive officer will soon be named to oversee academics in East Detroit Public Schools after years of chronically low student achievement, state officials said Tuesday. The CEO will have jurisdiction over all instructional and financial decisions of four of the district’s seven schools for the next three years along with the superintendent, according to the State School Reform Office.

It’s the first time a CEO will be designated to a school district in the state, said Natasha Baker, the state school reform officer.

“We will actually be collecting student achievement performance every six to eight weeks to determine whether the district is trending in a positive direction,” Baker said. “We are not going to have to wait three years to determine if that is taking place.”

It’s not clear under what authorization this is being done. However, given that the CEO “will have jurisdiction over all instructional and financial decisions”, it appears to be an Emergency Manager with a new name, one that avoids the now-toxic “Emergency Manager” moniker.

Unsurprisingly, the new paradigm features testing, testing, and more testing as if this was somehow part of the educational process. These poor East Detroit students will now be tested at least once every two months, taking away from precious instructional time.

The district has already been making progress, as it turns out:

East Detroit Superintendent Ryan McLeod said in a statement the district is aware of Snyder’s announcement, but at this time “we are not clear what this additional intervention means.” […]

East Detroit has partnered with the Macomb Intermediate School District to address “some serious academic concerns,” McLeod said in the statement. Already, the district is seeing significant improvements in increased student achievement, increased graduation rates, and decreased discipline rates, McLeod added.

In a statement, MISD Superintendent Michael DeVault said the external management model in Michigan has not proven successful and will only add another layer of bureaucracy to the reform process.

Given the (lack of) success of the “running government like a business” model in our state, it’s hard to see how this Big Government takeover is going to be any different. But, hey, who knows? Maybe doing the same thing over and over and over again will give a different result.

One more thing: nearly a third of the students in East Detroit Public Schools are from Detroit Public Schools and 86% of the families in East Detroit schools live in poverty. But, rather than address that pervasive and overriding issue, Rick Snyder has chosen to takeover their schools with a CEO.

[Snyder caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]