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Set your state reps straight

LEFT: State Rep. John Olumba, I-Detroit; RIGHT: State Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit

LEFT: State Rep. John Olumba, I-Detroit; RIGHT: State Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit

Two Detroit representatives are not doing their job in Lansing. They need citizens to take corrective action.

Harvey Santana and John Olumba are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the school question and on the worst side for children. They are preparing to join Gov. Rick Snyder, the Republican corporate “school reform” movement and vote yes to expand the Education Achievement Authority.

Gov. Rick Snyder started the EAA in 2011 with the taking of 15 Detroit public schools, their contents, federal grants and children. He called it a failing district. We say it is a Jim Crow district — separate and unequal.

Now taxpayers are paying for two sets of administrators, two sets of office, two sets of experts, two superintendents — and the experiment is failing. The EAA is based on the idea of school reform put forth by corporate billionaires and it is practiced only on urban districts with poor, Black and Latino children. It is sold to conservative lawmakers in the name of reform. Noted educator Diane Ravitch calls it corporate reform. It treats children as “customers.” It relies on test scores to measure progress for teachers and children. It values “efficiencies” over children’s happiness or nurturing. In the name of efficiencies, it gives six weeks of training to Teach for America students who sign up as teachers in order to repay student loans. For the most part, the TFA corps lack any connection to or experience of urban communities. It’s a well-funded movement from the likes of Bill Gates — who gets to place computers in classrooms — and so lucrative the United Fund has switched its focus from helping the poor to taking over schools. Former Gov. John Engler, who forced the first state take-over on Detroit, is one of the movement’s founders.

Privatization, building closures and teacher layoffs are the early results; uneducated communities are the long term results.

The recent MEAP tests — Michigan’s annual measure of academic achievement — reveal the children in the EAA are not making progress, many are falling further behind.

In the EAA, the children sit at computers — although there have not been enough to go around — with the Teach for America student teachers trying to figure out what to teach them. Experienced teachers are gone for the most part. Books are absent from many classrooms; teacher turnover is tremendous, discipline problems are of such proportions even the Detroit News took note.

Stand up for the children. Stop the EAA. As educator and activist Helen Moore says, “Take your children out of the EAA.” And immediately stop the passage of the failing district’s expansion.

Call Santana at 517.373.6990 or email him at HarveySantana@house.mi.gov.

Call John Olumba at 517.373.0144 or email him at JohnOlumba@house.mi.gov.

Tell them, no more EAA — here or anywhere!

 

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