LANSING — State Representatives Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) yesterday questioned the state’s school reform officer, Natasha Baker, about why the state would divert school aid dollars to have CEOs, state-appointed emergency managers by another name, take control of schools that have been ranked in the bottom 5 percent when successful turn-around models have already happened at the local level without the state sending emergency managers directly into schools.

“Hazel Park and Webberville high schools found themselves on the state’s priority schools list and they worked themselves off that list without a state takeover,” said Roberts. “The governor wants to take $16 million over the next three years and use it to fund emergency managers at the school building level. We already know that emergency managers don’t work. We should be working with our local Intermediate School District, local education leaders and the state School Reform Office to implement reform plans that we know have been tried and have worked in other schools.” 

Hazel Park and Webberville high schools were both on the state’s priority list and both worked with the State School Reform Office under the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to improve. Both schools improved and worked their way off the priority schools list within two years.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan, however, would send a state appointed CEO paid for with school aid dollars to take over the school instead of having the State School Reform Office work at the local level to make improvements.

“State Reform Officer Baker praised these two schools that turned themselves around through hard work and buy-in from the local community, and yet she wants to throw that successful model out and instead spend millions of dollars to put academic emergency managers in schools around the state. It is frankly, incomprehensible,” said Zemke. “The failure of the state’s use of emergency managers in Detroit Public Schools should be enough to scuttle this idea of academic-emergency managers. I can’t support a plan that takes money out of classroom interventions to pay CEOs and leaves students, parents, community members, teachers and school officials without a stake in what happens in their schools.”