LANSING – Members of the House Democratic Detroit Caucus today expressed grave concern for the future of Detroit Schoolchildren trapped in the failing Education Achievement Authority (EAA) system. The district has not met the criteria set forth during Eastern Michigan’s University’s Dec. 5, 2014, Board of Regents meeting calling for transparency and partnership and has done irreparable harm to the remaining 4,500 students in EAA-run schools. EMU has an interlocal agreement with the school district of the city of Detroit, which is necessary for the existence of the EAA.
Currently under FBI investigation, EAA officials have tried to turn schools, that Detroit Caucus members demand should be returned to the Detroit Public School system (DPS), over to charter school operators.
“The EAA has been an unsustainable model that doesn’t work and it has greatly contributed to the DPS debt. I am asking that all 15 EAA schools be returned to DPS under the auspices and powers of the elected school board,” said Detroit Caucus Chairman Rep. Brian Banks (D-Detroit). “While DPS negotiations are going on, I don’t expect any additional changes in operating agreements or contracts with outside vendors until the DPS legislation is complete. I am also calling for a moratorium on any new charters until the DPS legislation is complete.”
Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed legislation to reform the Detroit Public School District. That legislation is expected to be introduced soon.
“Eastern Michigan University faculty members are fearful that shady midnight changes to the next Board of Regent’s meeting agenda signals the possibility of expanding this failed experiment by leaving the EMU-EAA agreement in place to add an additional 16 Detroit Public Schools to the EAA, and then turn these schools over to charter school operators,” said Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), Democratic Caucus Urban Education Chairwoman. “It is criminal to continue subjecting Detroit children to this subpar academic experiment when we have data showing that EAA students are continuing to regress academically.”
EMU’s faculty senate leadership have looked at the most recent EAA testing data and found that the district’s students are not performing well on Michigan standardized tests, the ACT test or the College and Career Ready WorkKeys test. The data looked at showed that EAA students scored well below the national and state averages.
“The EAA is a state controlled school system that flies against the wishes of Detroit residents who elected a school board,” said Rep. Rose Mary C. Robinson (D-Detroit). “Enough is enough. The EAA is an assault on Detroit voters, and has failed to deliver a good education to our students. It’s time to turn control back to DPS and work with educators and parents to improve our schools.”
Caucus members also have information showing that the EAA has failed to pay rent to DPS for the school buildings it uses. Banks noted that the EAA has not paid any rent in 2015 and so owe more than $5 million to DPS. Caucus members are demanding that the EAA pay its 2015 debt to DPS.
“Detroit students deserve better and shouldn’t be forced to continue going to school in these failing EAA schools,” said Assistant Democratic Leader state Rep. Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit). “EMU faculty members are right in calling to end that university’s agreement with the EAA. Rather than letting EAA officials move forward with their plans, we should end this failed EAA experiment and return Detroit school to Detroiters who are more than ready to work together to deliver a better education to our children.”