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EAA, a chaotic experiment that needs to end

EAA logoHigh teacher turnover, declining enrollment, lack of curriculum, too many Teach for America staff and too few certified teachers, harsh discipline practices, absence of books, broken or missing computers and a faulty premise on which to build a school system — that “failing” children working for most of the day on a computer will find inspiration, skills and a love of learning: That’s the EAA, the Education Achievement Authority.

It is Gov. Rick Snyder’s idea of school reform, and it is a magnificent failure. It is supported by right-wing zealots like Eli Broad and John Engler; admired by computer salesmen like Bill Gates; and managed by failed educator Chancellor John Covington who ran the Kansas City public schools out of accreditation.

The EAA was forced on Detroit under former Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts and the governor-appointed board of regents at Eastern Michigan University. They created an interlocal agreement taking DPS buildings, books, credit and bond-financed infrastructure to create the district.

The EMU education faculty, a University of Michigan and a Wayne State professor have renounced the EAA. Seven school districts are refusing to allow EMU student teachers into their systems in protest. And MEAP test scores released earlier this year show students declining, falling further below where they were when they began at the EAA. The elected DPS board has voted numerous times to abolish the EAA.

Snyder said the district was created for the lowest performing five percent of districts. There will always be a bottom five percent, even if every district in the state performs above average. That serves the needs of the corporate reform advocates, like Snyder, for corporate run schools — a steady, guaranteed revenue stream.

April 29, in a suit challenging the constitutionality of emergency management, attorney Herb Sanders listed for the judge the ways in which the EM law, PA 436, carries the badges and incidents of slavery. Nowhere are those badges more apparent than in the schools under emergency management.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists the right of parents to educate their children as fundamental. “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Under emergency management and the creation of the EAA, that right has been stripped away. Corporate education companies, with their stock listed on Wall Street, want to make a profit in educating your child. So they cut corners at every turn to do just that —maximize profits.

When the fight erupted in the Pershing High School classroom, the teacher had been on the job three months. Watching the video you see her at her desk for at least the first 10 seconds after the fight erupts. What was her experience? Where was the security? Did she have the proper materials to engage the students? Why did the principal readmit the student who started the fight without the proper hearing?

For parents and community in the EAA, there is no accountability. Detroiters didn’t choose the EAA, it was imposed upon them.

It is time for parents and community to exercise their basic human right and take back the schools, EAA and DPS. Salvage what is left of Detroit Public Schools and build something for our children and their future.

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