Thursday, December 10, 2015

Eastern Michigan University doesn't vote on relationship with EAA after all; EAA continues limping into future

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 1:00 PM

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The EAA, which was created in 2012 as a "recovery" district for 15 of Detroit's lowest performing schools, has been the source of much attention as of late and in the past (see, for instance, MT's entry on the EAA's deplorable record with transparency and progress). Largely considered a failure — it's first chancellor resigned in a cloud of shame, it's test scores remain stagnate (if not dropping), and it's been blasted for its use of a pretty green (read untested) learning management system — those in opposition to the EAA were hoping that Eastern Michigan University, who currently is partnered with the state as an authorizer of the district, would withdraw its sponsorship. On Tuesday the EMU board was supposed to vote on its relationship with the EAA, and it was largely expected that the university would walk away. "Is Tuesday the start of the end for the EAA?" the Free Press questioned before the anticipated meeting. Well, the answer is no. On Tuesday EMU's Board of Regents announced that it would not be voting on its relationship with the EAA, thereby keeping the district's future somewhat intact. Without EMU or another partner the EAA would have dissolved; many believe the regents bowed under pressure. (Talk about EMU dropping out was around last year too, with similar nonresults.)

"The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that your decision is purely political, dictated from the governor's office,"  Judith Kullberg, vice president of the faculty Senate, said at the board meeting.

The odd thing about EMU's decision not to vote on the EAA is that still everyone seems to agree the district shouldn't exist. “I think everyone would like to find a way to gracefully put an end to the EAA,” State Board of Education President John Austin said at a separate meeting this week. The state board, however, had no control over the EAA. In away that's sort off fitting considering elected boards tend to not have any say over anything Detroit schools related. 

While Austin believes the EAA should end, it's interesting to note that he believes that if the district ends it should be placed under the oversight of the state school reform office like all other failing schools. Considering the failures of the EAA (a state run district) and DPS under state-appointed emergency management on and off for the past 15 years, it seems odd that individuals continue to believe districts under state management is the best option. 

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