Over the past couple of years, Republicans and the Snyder administration have attempted to resolve the problem of urban school districts that are failing to provide even the bare basics of a good education for their students by grouping them all together into a single “school district for misfit schools” called the Education Achievement Authority or EAA. As has been well-documented (see the interview with State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton HERE), the EAA has been a catastrophic failure. Instead of providing these disadvantaged children with the resources and environment they so sorely lack, the EAA has attempted to educate them on the cheap. They have resorted to “teaching by computer” but, rather than providing the students with the cutting edge technology that you might expect a school district like this to have, instead there are too few computers for the students, the software was nonfunctional for much of the school year, and the system crashes regularly.
Worse yet, special needs students are woefully neglected, very possibly in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Special plans for these students, called Individualized Education Plans or IEPs, are frequently not provided to the teachers which prevents them from making the accommodations needed for these students, accommodations required by law.
Over the past couple of months I have been reaching out EAA teachers to learn more about their experiences. Several of them agreed to speak to me on the condition that I protect their identity. This is critical since retribution against teachers that speak out by EAA administrators is common knowledge. For example, former EAA teacher Brooke Harris was fired after speaking out on behalf of the students at her school, something I have written about in the past.
I spoke with several teachers, some of whom came to the EAA through the Teach for America program. What follows documents the outrageous and frightening situation in the EAA schools. I am keeping the gender of the teachers, which schools they work in, and any other identifying information hidden so that these teachers will not be fired for speaking to me. Every quote and statement, however, are real and the teachers represent both elementary schools within the EAA as well as high schools.
While much of what I learned from these courageous teachers I had heard about at least in part before, the most shocking thing I discovered was that school administrators have been seen physically abusing problem students. In addition to this, the teachers themselves are put in danger by violent students that the administration appears unwilling or unable to deal with.
It is critically important that these stories be told now because Republicans, including Gov. Snyder, are determined to expand the EAA statewide. The failure of the current EAA “experiment” shows in vivid and frightening detail what a colossal mistake that would be. I encourage you to share this information and this post with others you know so that all of us can contact our legislators and encourage them to stop the failed experiment before it is expanded even further.
Go to Eclectablog to see what the EAA teachers had to say…