Educators and parents from across the state today called on the Michigan Senate to reject a proposal that would add more schools to the Education Achievement Authority, which took over 15 public schools in Detroit last year only to see a quarter of the students leave in 2013. The state Senate is expected to vote on House Bill 4369 Wednesday without any public hearings, and despite massive opposition from education experts, superintendents, teachers, parents and many others.
“Parents and students are abandoning this failed experiment in education because it doesn’t work, it’s a disaster and it’s clearly a politically driven power grab that imperils our children’s future,” said Robert D. Livernois, Superintendent of Warren Consolidated Schools. “Once again, politicians are ramming educational policies down the throats of educators and parents without a single hearing or any real partnership with frontline educators who know what works and what doesn’t. That’s why educators are united in urging the Senate to say ‘no’ to this reckless scheme that is being pushed by people with an agenda that doesn’t put our kids first.”
“After making huge cuts to classrooms and squeezing schools, Lansing politicians are about to make another bad decision and our kids will be the losers again,” said Elizabeth Welch Lykins, a parent from Kent County. “The only metrics that matter is that parents with kids in the EAA chose to walk away. They voted with their feet and we urge the Legislature to do the same by saying ‘no’ to this plan.”
According to the Detroit News, the EAA statewide district formed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011 lost more than 2,300 students in its 15 K-12 schools this fall, down from 9,958 last year. In June, the district adopted a $92.3 million budget for 2013-14, based on a projected enrollment of 8,919 — 1,330 more students than it enrolled this fall, according to the state. Educators, parents, education advocates and many others have raised concerns about the EAA, how it educates children and what they call a lack of transparency with public tax dollars.
After costly planning mistakes, the EAA nearly ran out of money in 2012-13 — its first year of operation — and was forced to borrow millions of dollars from the state and take money from Michigan Educational Excellence Foundation, a nonprofit created by top aides to Snyder, to stay afloat, according to the Detroit News on Nov. 22.
“For a governor who claims to rely on metrics and data, all the evidence shows that the EAA is a failed experiment and should be permanently taken out of the state’s educational curriculum,” said Mark Burton of the Tri-County Alliance for Education, representing superintendents in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. “For Lansing politicians to make sweeping changes to educational policies without hearing from educators and shutting out the public is an outrage to students and parents. This is the kind of reckless decision-making that will hurt our kids and send Michigan backwards.”