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Posted on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Bill that would expand Education Achievement Authority narrowly passes in State House

By Danielle Arndt

The Michigan House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill Thursday that would expand the reach of the Education Achievement Authority.

According to an MLive report, the Republican-led reform bill was approved in a 57-53 vote that was mostly along party lines. The bill must pass in the Republican-led Senate and be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in order to become a law.

The EAA has been described as a statewide "super district" that has the power to take over schools in the lowest-performing 5 percent of public schools in Michigan.

Many in the traditional K-12 community have opposed House Bill 4369.

When the bill was introduced last fall, legislators tried pushing it through the lame duck session, along with other education reforms. Washtenaw County school districts scrambled to express their hostility toward the bill. The Ann Arbor school board also passed a resolution against the reforms.


State Board of Education President and Ann Arbor resident John Austin.

MLive file photo

Since then, a number of changes were made to the legislation. According to MLive, the version passed Thursday would cap the EAA at 50 schools and the growth would be gradual. MLive reports the number allowed through June 30, 2014, would be up to 27; the EAA could have up to 37 schools through June 30, 2015; and no more than 50 after that.

There are currently 146 schools in the bottom 5 percent and the EAA already has assumed control of 15 in the Detroit Public Schools system.

The state's lowest performing schools for the 2011-12 academic year were announced in August on a "Priority Schools" list. None of Washtenaw County's schools appeared on the most recent list. However, Lincoln, Ypsilanti and Willow Run high schools all appeared on the 2010-11 persistently low-achieving list.

John Austin, an Ann Arbor Democrat and president of Michigan's State Board of Education, said in an email to MLive, the current version of the EAA legislation is a "great improvement over previous bills that were compromised by elements having to do with a different agenda, that of facilitating new school creation and a market place for education." But Austin says the legislation can further be improved by changes and clarifications in several areas as it moves through the Legislature.

According to MLive, the EAA aims to provide more "student-centered" learning than in the more traditional K-12 models, which supporters say could help students make significant academic gains.

Washtenaw County's state representatives Gretchen Driskell, Jeff Irwin, David Rutledge and Adam Zemke all voted against the EAA bill.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Rick Stevens

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Yet another attempt to push the charter school stuff and boost the business of private, for profit schools. Quid pro quo for campaign funds. And, as a added bonus, 1: ..: however, collectively bargained contracts would be cancelled when a school entered the 'achievement authority'... A twofer - boost the charter school business and hit collective bargaining.


Thu, Mar 28, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

I find this analogous to health care reform. The health care system was in dire need of overhaul, and while the ACA has flaws, it is a step that had to be taken. The EAA bill also has flaws but the public school system in this state is broken and something has to change.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

Snyder's education policies are a disaster, hopefully this one won't do too much damage and hopefully it stays out of good schools....


Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

Oh Don Bee, the EAA is filled with rank amateurs from top to bottom. Check out whose on their board, really, the head of meijers, mike duggan, and various other CEOs. (,4841,7-281--264462--,00.html) Of course this bunch know what they are doing when it comes to running a school, why would anybody think anything differently? Nothing but no track record behind them on school administration, for sure, so obviously,it's a great idea to entrust these folks with this project....Followed by establishing schools with very needy, at risk kids, run by completely novice but well intentioned teachers and staff who are just beginning to figure out what they need to teach. (Check out Christine Stead's blog on her visit there What, as my high schooler likes to say, could possibly go wrong? All this and with the bottom line being driven by speculators investing in this with no interest or knowledge of education, but I am sure, will be the first in line to receive their investment money upon liquidation. Whoo boy, honestly, what are the odds this doesn't turn into the biggest joke and scandal of our decade?


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

mgocottie - So it OK to throw away children in other school systems - so that there is no chance that your children might be put into an "improvement" district. So nice of you to look out for the future of other children in the state! Remember that every time you drive by a prison!


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Bottom 5% according to whom? What if it's improvement scores and a good school does not improve? And I would not want my kids in DPS, but I would want them in there even less after the EAA takeover. You are far too trusting of rhetoric....


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

mgoscottie - The law specifically targets the bottom 5 percent of schools. The other 95 percent are clear of this law. How many good schools would you expect fit in that bottom 5 percent? How would you like your child trapped in one of those bottom 5 percent schools?


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

While there might be justification for not allowing unlimited growth of the EAA, I'm happy to hear that something different will finally be tried. The students in those persistently failing schools have NOT been well served by our existing approach to education. It's time to do almost anything else that has a reasonable chance of succeeding, instead of doubling down on the failed premise that more money is all it will take to improve Michigan's failing schools. We've tried that approach, folks. It failed. It's past time to do something different. And if that doesn't work, after 2 or 3 years with little or no improvement, we should try something else instead. The best thing about charter schools from my point of view is that they are easy to close when they don't work.


Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

I don't think, the we've tried and failed takes into account what happens in core urban areas well, especially in a city as poorly run and corrupt as Detroit.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

My understanding is that the EAA expansion is taking place even without any data showing their programs are effective. I don't understand the rush.

Susie Q

Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

If the EAA is so great.......let's look at the data from their first & second years before we add a bunch of other poor performing schools. I have heard that the Muskegon Heights school takeover has not gone swimmingly. They cannot keep certified staff and went most of the first semester with a number of non-certified teachers. The teachers in many of the charter schools cannot wait to get out. There is poor pay, no supplies and bad working conditions. I know there are some good charters that have waiting lists......maybe the groups that run the GOOD charters should be given a chance with these low performers.....not groups who have a poor track record.


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Nice to note that the way it appears to be worded, there is no end to it. This designation of the 'bottom 5%' is endless. No matter how good the schools systems become there will always be a bottom 5% for this conglomeration to take over. I would also like to know about the schools that the EAA takes over - if they remain in the bottom 5%, who then takes them over? Or does the EAA continue to take over the bottom 5% of schools it doesn't already control? If the latter, we could see the EAA taking over schools that are better than those it already runs. I would like to know what limits there exist regarding this 'taking control' decision. I am generally a little suspicious of a 'state-wide super district' managing schools scattered throughout the state. I suspect - admittedly without any research other than the fact it is supported predominately by Republicans - that many of the people supporting this are also generally against 'big government'. Yet this legislation appears to be a state-run school district that for the foreseeable future will continuously grow.


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

I've got an idea! Lets create a "committee" to study what is effective and what is not over the next 2 years, dedicate a ton of money to it and then make a decision right around election time! That should solve the problem.


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

sh1 and CLX - So we leave children in schools that are throwing away 50 percent or more of them for how long until we have data to show that the new way is working vs the old way in these schools that is putting half or more of the children in the dumpster? How many children do you want to sentence to a life of poverty to keep the old system working in schools that have clearly failed? How many prison cells do you want to pay for because these children have no other means of surviving? How many to keep the current establishment running in the manner it runs? Save the establishment, down with reform?


Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

AMOC - In fact there is data showing that similar programs are not effective - politicians trying to fix education without any actual knowledge of what works and what doesn't is insane. This is pure politics, nothing more.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

I'm not against trying something new. Let's just go with something that has a past history of being effective. That does not exist for the EAA program.


Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

sh1- We have decades worth of data showing that what we have been doing in those schools doesn't work. It's past time we tried something different. Many of the approaches being adopted by the EAA have been extremely successful in New Orleans.