Bill that would expand Education Achievement Authority narrowly passes in State House
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.
MLive file photo
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.