Introduced in June of 2011, the Education Achievement Authority or EAA was adopted into Michigan’s public educational systems. The EAA will operate the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in Michigan not achieving satisfactory results on a redesign plan or that are under an emergency manager. It first applied to underperforming schools in Detroit in the 2012-13 school year with plans to expand to cover the entire state. In December of 2013 House Bill 4369 was passed to keep the EAA in Detroit public schools. The expansion of the EAA statewide would be voted on in January of 2015 and is sponsored by House Representatives Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R, District 86) Amanda Price (R, District 89), Joe Haveman (R, District 90), Ray Franz (R, District 101), Tom McMillin (R, District 45), Ken Yonker (R, District 72) , and Hugh D. Crawford (R, District 38)..
The EAA has only been in full effect for little more than a year, which is a very short amount of time to collect data from the schools to determine whether the system is working. House Democrats strongly believe that this is not an effective way to run our schools. Voices heard from the public that oppose the system say that the EAA gives the government too much power in the public schools. On the other side of the debate, Republican representatives believe that the EAA needs more time to prove that there are improvements happening. They believe it is necessary to have a program like this in schools to ensure the progression of public schools that have fallen behind. Detroit has some of the worst school districts in the United States and something must be done to improve them.
House Bill 4369 states that the EAA would spread across Michigan taking control of schools in need of reform but would have a limit of handling only 50 schools at a time. Some major details of the bill are those that specify the intentions of the EAA. Section 1280 requires superintendents to place public schools that are listed in the lowest achieving 5 percent of all state public schools for 3 consecutive years under the supervision of a redesign officer. The redesign officer must develop a plan to directly address the reasons the public school is low-achieving and incorporate measures to improve student performance. It also specifies that any collective bargaining agreement applicable to employees at a public school does not apply after the school is under the control of the Education Achievement Authority.
As of right now, there has been a plethora of amendments proposed to the bill most of which have failed. A few failed amendments that were proposed at the House Education Committee on March 20, 2013 include:
Amendment offered by Rep. Collene Lamonte (D) to mandate that an academically failed school taken over by the authority must be operated under all the same state student testing and reporting rules that apply to conventional public schools.
Amendment offered by Rep. Collene Lamonte (D) to require the authority to hold a monthly public meeting in each academically failed school that it takes over.
Amendment offered by Rep. David Knezek (D) to strip out a provision establishing that the proposed authority's funding is subject to the same school aid act funding provisions as other public schools.
House Representative Collene Lamonte, a former high school teacher, spoke out against this bill. She explains that she cannot support an experimental program that has not been thoroughly tested. She states that “our children are not laboratory animals, and we are nowhere close to knowing what the effects of these experiments are.”
Most Democrats found that their amendments would not be added to the bill anytime soon. It is not clear yet if the expansion will be passed in 2015. There is a lot of Republican support for the bill, and with Republicans currently holding the majority in both the House and Senate it looks like there is a good possibility that it could be passed. The results of the upcoming election will have the biggest impact on what happens with the Education Achievement Authority.
Interview with Collene Lamonte 3/10/2014