Senate approves EAA expansion

After being discharged today from committee and taken up under general orders, the Senate voted 20-18 to expand the Education Achievement Authority. HB 4369 now allows persistently low -achieving schools to be operated by another public school or “reform/redesign district” as opposed to a private educational management organization as the EAA currently operates. The bill still allows the EAA to remain in place.

The EAA currently oversees the operation of 15 Detroit schools. While the original House version allowed the EAA to take over an additional 50 persistently low-achieving schools, the Senate’s substitute calls for a moratorium on expanding the EAA’s jurisdiction until January 2015.  After that, there is no cap on the number of schools that can be placed in the EAA and no schools would be functioning under the EAA until the 2015-16 school year.

Whether a school can leave the EAA will depend on the performance in grades K-8 as judged by the reform/redesign officer. Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) said the bill would give State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan a way to address academically failing schools through the EAA.

And now, a school district that is under an emergency manager can still enter into a contract with the reform/redesign district.  The bill also allows for ease in cash flow borrowing.

Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) tried to get his amendments addressing transparency passed, but an amendment by Pavlov addressed the issue. The EAA won’t have to post contracts on its website and the Department of Treasury would determine if the EAA was subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act. The EAA has come under fire for not owning up to its 24 percent loss of students and repeated requests for government bailouts.

The legislation still has done nothing to improve an already dismal situation.  It makes the situation worse.

“Rather than addressing specific problems facing local school districts, this bill eliminates the time-honored tradition of neighborhood schools, allowing state government bureaucrats to impose their will over local parents and communities,” said MEA President Steve Cook. “The legislation continues to undermine local control of school districts and students needing the most support continue to be trapped in the EAA—a failed experiment.”