Eastern Michigan University faculty are now urging school administrators to dump the Education Achievement Authority contract. Earlier this month, the Washtenaw County Education Association called upon their members to not accept student teachers from EMU based on the institution’s affiliation with the controversial EAA, the pet project of the GOP House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Lisa Posthumus-Lyons (R-86).
Lyons pitched the expected hypocritical tantrum over the move, calling-out the union for playing politics with education — because the lawmaker herself certainly wouldn’t dream of injecting political motives into Michigan’s public schools. Noooooo….
But now it’s the very institution her group tapped for their expertise that are expressing grave concerns over the efficacy of the EAA. The Detroit Free Press reports that the EMU College of Education sent a letter to the Board of Regents, and last week the EMU Faculty Senate approved a resolution for the school to void its contract with the Authority. The school insists that the contract is iron-clad, at least for the time being, in spite of concerns over the integrity of the university:
“These negative impacts on our reputation, our local relationships, our students and programs, the clear effect on enrollments and thus revenue to the university are a repudiation of EMU’s legacy as a champion of public education and a leader in the preparation of educational professionals. We implore you to remedy this situation as quickly as possible by unanimously voting to withdraw from the contract creating the EAA.”
As it turns out, the EAA appears to be using the EMU affiliation in name only — to lend itself some much-needed street-cred. They are not availing themselves of the contractually mandated expertise, and have instead froze-out those appointed to assist the struggling Authority. The Free Press reports:
EMU was given two seats on the 11-member board of directors, but College of Education faculty members said they’ve been frozen out since the EAA began, learning only of EMU’s participation when the new school district was announced.
“We really have nothing to do with the EAA,” said Steve Camron, a special-education professor. “They don’t want anything to do with EMU’s faculty.
“The EAA went out to a private firm to evaluate special education. They could have gotten that for free from EMU.”
EAA leadership apparently feel they’ve got all the tools they need to guide the lowest performing schools from Detroit Public Schools to success. Of course, they are quick to point out that it’s too early to judge their progress. Yet, it’s not too early to evaluate their fiscal health. In their first year of operation, they needed to borrow twice from financially struggling Detroit Public Schools for a total of $12 million in operating expenses.
In the meantime, Democratic leaders and lawmakers recently met in a town hall meeting in Muskegon to discuss alternatives to the EAA plan. The panel was led by Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-23) and Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-92). At the meeting, Hovey-Wright unveiled the results of an education task force formed by House Democrats last September. The task force had two primary findings. First, they are urging the state to avoid “one size fits all” fixes, like the EAA, that don’t address each school district’s unique circumstances. Second, they are asking the Michigan Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive statewide study to develop a realistic picture of the actual costs of public education.
The task force additionally called for a constitutional amendment to protect the School Aid Fund from being hijacked by elected leaders, as occurred under newly elected Gov. Snyder early in 2011 to pay for his corporate tax cuts. In a budgetary shell game, the governor moved money from K-12 education to higher education, then pulled funding from universities to hand-out in the form of huge tax breaks to his special friends, the “job creators”.
Fat chance of an amendment meeting with any success without a serious shake-up in Lansing leadership. Eleven and a half months….
Amy Kerr Hardin