Speaking of Ill-Considered Decisions by Boards of Trustees—Despite Very Vocal Faculty and Student Concerns

The following “Breaking News” item was distributed today by the Detroit Free-Press:

“Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents today stood with Gov. Snyder and declined to vote on the future of the Education Achievement Authority. That keeps the reform district running for now—at least until Snyder introduces legislation aimed at a new effort to improve education in Detroit.

“’We remain steadfast in our support,’ Eastern board chairman Mike Morris said over the screams of angry protesters.

“A year ago, the university’s Board of Regents voted to extend for a year the agreement that formed the EAA, the state district for the worst-performing schools in Michigan, despite widespread opposition on campus. But it said the EAA needed to meet a series of conditions to get another extension.

“It hasn’t, the faculty Senate and student government say.

“In order to form the district, the state needed two partners—Detroit Public Schools and Eastern joined together to form it. Eastern gets two seats on the EAA board of directors and had hoped the EAA would expand across the state and help get Eastern’s name into high schools for prospective students to get to know.

“The Eastern board, in a resolution last year, outlined the areas where the EAA needed to make progress.

“They included a stronger partnership between EMU and the EAA, demonstrated student achievement and progress, fiscal accountability and ‘complete transparency of all activity, including prompt and appropriate response to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.’

“Instead, the EAA is under siege because of poor academic performance, declining enrollment and an FBI investigation into kickback schemes involving vendors.

“In addition, concerns have been raised at EMU because its College of Education faculty hasn’t played a role in the EAA, and some local school districts have refused to take on student teachers from EMU in protest over the university’s role with the EAA.”

For fuller information about the failure of the EAA, see “BOMBSHELL! Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority in Serious Trouble, Moves to Turn at Least Some Schools over to Charters,” published on the progressive Eclecta Blog.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

“By all appearances, the wheels appear to have all but completely come off the catastrophe that is Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed experiment on Detroit school children. Following the departure-under-scandal of former EAA Chancellor John Covington, the new Chancellor Veronica Conforme set out to poach students from neighboring districts using deceptive letters sent to the community. She was later forced to apologize.

“Then the district was found to be cheating teachers out of incentive pay for which they had received millions of dollars in federal funding.

“Last month it was revealed that a $1.7 million training contract had been awarded to the eighth-highest scoring company-–the School Empowerment Network–-a company formed explicitly to obtain the contract, with no other customers, and run by former colleagues of Veronica Conforme.

“Around the same time, Kenyetta Wilbourn-Snapp, a former principal in the EAA’s Mumford High School, admitted to tax evasion and taking a $58,000 bribe following an FBI investigation.

“In the past couple of days, things at the EAA have gone from tragically bad to tragically worse. First, ACLU journalist Curt Guyette revealed the story of Joshua Tolbert, a story that shows an astonishing (and continuing) (and typical) lack of transparency at the EAA . . .

“Guyette reports that EAA administrators considered communications between themselves and Futures Education of Michigan to be confidential communications between the district and its legal counsel and is thus covered by ‘attorney-client privilege,’ a ludicrous claim that would be laughable if it weren’t hiding something more sinister. According to the piece, Chancellor Conforme ‘is still fighting to keep secret what exactly what went wrong with what was clearly a trouble-filled deal with Futures.’

“The day after Guyette’s piece was published, a group of State Representatives from Detroit accused the EAA and Detroit Public Schools of colluding to move 16 more schools into the EAA (which currently has 15, three of which are charters) and then turning them all into charter schools . . .

“The documents, which you can read HERE and HERE, don’t mention how many schools are involved or that the EAA is being expanded. However, it is clear that the EAA IS working to turn over at least some of its schools to charter operators, something that education activists have feared all along. In fact, in a piece I published in January of 2014 titled “Is the Education Achievement Authority intentionally designed to fail???”, I wrote this:

“’A more cynical view, however, is that those pushing this failed educational model actually want it to fail. As outrageous as that sounds, it’s hard not to believe it when otherwise intelligent people defend it so vociferously and want to expand it to even more schools. These are most often the same people who are pushing for more and more charter schools in our state, charter schools that are mostly run by for-profit companies that enrich themselves with tax dollars targeted toward educating our children.

“Spokespersons for Gov. Snyder, DPS, and the EAA are denying the accusations. . . .”


The complete blog post is available at: http://www.eclectablog.com/2015/12/breaking-michigans-education-achievement-authority-in-serious-trouble-moves-to-turn-at-least-some-schools-into-charters.html?utm.


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