It was near the end of a mid-March meeting when a steady stream of people filed before the board that oversees the Education Achievement Authority, vilifying the state’s reform district as a failure, assailing lackluster MEAP results and pledging to bring it down.
The EAA’s children, Detroit activist Helen Moore said, “are being cheated out of their education.”
The backlash has become all too familiar. The EAA is a key part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s education strategy — a system that is supposed to be a lifeline for kids trapped in the worst-performing schools — but it’s been mired in criticism from the moment it was announced in 2011. And the backlash has grown as lawmakers seek to finalize a bill that will allow the EAA to expand.
Overall enrollment dropped 25% after the EAA’s first year. MEAP scores show most EAA students either aren’t showingimprovement or are getting worse, despite internal testing showing students making big gains. Some former EAA staff have made allegations of abuse, saying students have been disciplined harshly. EAA Chancellor John Covington says that although he doesn’t believe there are widespread problems, an audit will be conducted.
And there is widespread disdain for the Legislature’s push to allow the EAA to take on more schools. Much of the K-12 community has fought against expansion. Eastern Michigan University, which helped form the EAA, has been under fire from some faculty and students for its role in the EAA, saying it is damaging EMU’s reputation, and also because its education faculty weren’t being consulted about the EAA. Some lawmakers — notably Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods, and Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor — have aggressively sought recordsfrom the EAA, raising questions about academic improvement, finances and discipline.
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