Legislators 'extremely confused' about proposed state takeover district

Members of the state House Education Committee were "extremely confused" about legislation to create a statewide takeover district during a committee hearing Monday, according to the Gongwer News Service -- another sign that they should not attempt to pass such radical school overhauls in the lame duck session.

The panel was hearing testimony on House Bill 6004, which would expand the authority of the interlocal agreement between Detroit Public Schools and Eastern Michigan University that created the Education Achievement Authority.

The legislation would expand the EAA to the entire state, allowing it to absorb schools deemed by arbitrary and flawed ratings to be in the bottom 5 percent.

The proposed EAA expansion comes despite the fact that the current EAA has only been in operation in Detroit since the beginning of the school year -- far too little time to evaluate its effectiveness.

Detroit Mumford High School teacher Brooke Harris testified Monday that her school, which is under the current EAA, suffers from overcrowded classrooms a lack of enough school supplies to go around. She also said higher-achieving students get less attention than their peers.

Gongwer reported: "The panel, appearing shocked to hear a teacher speak to the contrary of much of the testimony last week that praised the authority, was somewhat caught off guard. Asked what Ms. Harris though the state could do differently to better help struggling students in low-achieving schools, Ms. Harris requested simply to be trusted with what she was educated to do."

"I guess I wish I could be trusted to do my job first," Harris told the committee. "When I fail, you can yell at me, but trust me first."
Instead of expanding an unproven local program to the entire state, Harris suggested that policymakers "start looking for solutions that have already been proven."