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Posted on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

EMU hopes to 'make a difference' for Detroit students with its new role in state takeover of failing schools

By Kyle Feldscher

This story has been updated with quotes from Susan Moeller

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents formally approved the university’s participation in a new system for governing failing schools in Michigan and appointed two regents to the board of the Education Achievement System.

The regents unanimously voted to join the Education Achievement System and appointed regents Michael Hawks and James Stapleton to serve on the authority board of the new system.

EMU’s participation in the new authority was announced Monday in Detroit at Renaissance High School. The plan would restructure Detroit Public Schools and other school districts with failing schools by placing persistently low-achieving buildings under the authority of the 11-member authority. Of those 11 members, 7 are appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who was in Detroit to help announce the plan Monday.

The university would help create a "laboratory or university school" at the site of any public school that has been taken over by the EAS. It also would provide faculty and staff members to assist the new system, and conduct employee retraining. Approximately 200 schools in Michigan are considered to be failing, 100 of which are in Detroit.

“It’s going to be interesting to watch this roll out and hopefully, we can make a difference in the lives of students in Detroit,” said Roy Wilbanks, chairman of the board of regents.

The announcement in Detroit included Snyder, Detroit schools emergency manager Roy Roberts, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Wilbanks and other schools officials.

Some members of the university community aren’t happy with the way the new system was presented to employees.

Susan Moeller, president of the EMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, told regents that administrators joined the new system without including any faculty voice.

Moeller said many faculty members were made aware of the system at the same time the rest of the public was, through a press release sent by university officials.

“There still has been no communication from president (Susan) Martin or the dean of the COE (College of Education) to the faculty regarding what this agreement is all about,” Moeller said.

Moeller added that Shawn Quilter, currently serving as interim dean of the EMU College of Education, was only notified about his college’s participation in the new system on the Friday before the announcement.

Moeller said the failure to include the faculty in the discussions surrounding the EAS, along with the continued search for a new provost despite faculty being away from campus on summer break, showed that university officials are not willing to include the faculty in important decisions.

“Faculty need to be included in the development and discussion of what is going to happen with this plan,” Moeller said, adding that she has requested a special meeting with Martin to discuss the EAS. “They are the experts and it cannot succeed without them.”

Regents did not respond to Moeller's remarks.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

This isn't a "partnership." The people who would logically be involved in plans for turning around a "failing" school, i.e., EMU's education faculty, are obviously not in the loop, not even on the radar. This is a glorified Emergency Financial Committee. Rather than engender the rage that is brewing around the Emergency Financial Manager law and its ability to shatter contracts, hire and fire without benefit of oversight from anyone, we get a committee, an "Authority". This plan sounds as though many people (EMU professors, student teachers, etc.) will come together to help these schools. . .until you look at the details. Then we see that this "Authority" will be 11 people who decide everything about these schools (shattering contracts, hiring and firing without benefit of recourse), and 7 of them will be appointed by Gov. Snyder. I'll bet they're getting their EFM training right now. Don't look for partnership here. Snyder and Wilbanks are calling it an Authority. . .the name says it all.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

I've updated this story with the correct name of the interim dean of the College of Education.


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

Graduation rates - 24.9% Budget deficit - $325,000,000 Number of vacant buildings - 81 Coming up with a bold new plan to keep the Detroit Public Schools from becoming a 3rd world nation - Priceless!


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.'d better read what David Jesse had to say about this early this morning.


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Is it just me, or is anyone else worried that the two districts surrounding EMU are failing districts? Hasn't EMU been working with and helping Ypsi and WR for years? Just sayin' . . .

Lac Court Orilles

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

Just what is a failing school? Is it one that failed academically or one that failed politically? Let's see here, EMU will lay off 40 people while everyone else has a full assignment. What EMU faculty will be assigned to work at these failing schools? If you are paying tuition at EMU, does this mean that your professors won't have time to meet with you in their offices because they will be driving to Detroit to work there as part of their assignment? EMU can't even get a capital outlay to repair even one building, yet their staff gets additional responsibilities of bailing out failing schools. Why wasn't the rich Nerd's school assigned to bail out failing Detroit schools instead? After all U of M has an "army" of professors that do very little if any work. Why not give them something to do so they can feel good about themselves for a change!


Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

WW - yes EAS seems like a great idea. But 200 is a LOT of schools! What if you owned 1 McD's and needed to open 200 more? Don't you think your staff would want to be in on the planning if they were going to have and help hire and train all the people to work at them? Why jump to the conclusion that it must be some kind of union/public employee/liberal conspiracy? Keep an open mind and heart on this and other important questions - that is how we as a city, county, state, nation and world can solve the hard problems we face. Taking a position that the other guy must be wrong from the get go doesn't help the discussion around failing schools. Overall, this is great opportunity for the kids, the parents, the communities and the university and its faculty. But that doesn't mean it's inappropriate to say "let's try not to keep the people who have to execute in the dark."

Will Warner

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 5:25 a.m.

"It is dumb to not include the Education faculty, including the dean, in the decision-making process on joining this EAS" It is kind of surprising that they were not included. I can only guess that the regents feared that the faculty would resist, the way the Ed. establishment resists that wonderful program called Teach for America because those participating in it are not members of the guild. Time for some bold action.

Rob Pollard

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

It is dumb to not include the Education faculty, including the dean, in the decision-making process on joining this EAS (which may or may not be a good idea; I'm still digesting the details). The story describing Eastern's role states, "As a part of the new authority, Eastern's responsibilities could include creating a "laboratory or university school" at the site of any public school that has been taken over by the EAS; providing faculty and staff members to assist the new system and failing schools; and conduct employee retraining." Who does Will Warner and the EMU Regents think is going to do all this work? Hawks and Stapleton? I hope they have a lot of time on their hands. How is EMU going to "provide faculty and staff" if they haven't discussed it with the faculty and staff? That's just poor leadership. A university, for better or worse, is not a command & control authoritarian system. It relies on consensus. If the faculty "get out the way," Eastern's participation in this EAS will be a failure, and the regents will have no recourse, and no one to blame but themselves.

Will Warner

Wed, Jun 22, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

The EAS sounds like a wonderful idea to me. Not the same old same old. Glad to see somebody innovating and working for the sake of the children in those failing schools. My sense is that entrenched interests in the educational establishment would watch the schools, and the children, go down the tubes rather than change. Time for an end-run around them. I don't care if EMU faculty's feelings were hurt; they need to lead, follow, or get out of the way.