You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

Eastern Michigan University to play major role in Snyder's new statewide system to run failing schools

By Kyle Feldscher

Eastern Michigan University will play a significant role in a new authority established by Gov. Rick Snyder to turn around 200 failing Michigan public schools.

Snyder, speaking at a press conference in Detroit, revealed plans to establish the Education Achievement System, a new, statewide school system that will take over the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools not achieving satisfactory results on a redesign plan or under the control of an emergency manager.


Gov. Rick Snyder, seen here speaking to a public school student in April, revealed a plan to place failing public schools into a statewide system that would give more autonomy to principals and require employees to reapply for their jobs.

Melanie Maxwell |

Roy Wilbanks, chairman of the EMU Board of Regents, said regents would approve the partnership at their regular meeting Tuesday.

“We’re eager to play this leadership role and we’re well-positioned to do so,” Wilbanks said. “Our strength as an institution of higher education … gives us a very strong opportunity to serve the state in this new partnership.”

The announcement positions EMU — which Snyder described as an "outstanding leader in teaching" — as an influential player in statewide education reform.

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.

The goal of the EAS is to transform Michigan's approximately 200 failing schools into stable and financially responsible schools.

It's aimed first at Detroit Public Schools — which will transfer its failing schools to the new authority starting in the 2012-13 school year. But it will eventually extend to all failing schools throughout the state, a measurement to be defined by DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts.

The system is structured to give the governor significant control. Snyder will appoint seven of the 11 members of the EAS board, EMU will appoint two and DPS will appoint two. Five Board members, including three of Snyder's appointees, will make up the Executive Committee, which will hire the EAS chancellor.

Snyder described the new structure as "a new way of looking at education systems," giving more autonomy to principals to hire teachers and run their own budgets and significantly reducing overall administrative costs.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, speaking via a satellite connection, praised the effort to revitalize Detroit's school system.

"The status quo isn’t good enough, and we are fighting for the future of the city," he said.

Under the new system, employees of failing schools will be given a chance to reapply for their jobs.

Snyder said the new system gives principals "more ability to do things focused on the kids."

“This will get them on the path to success,” Snyder said.

Eventually, the new authority could affect schools in eastern Washtenaw County. The current list of the Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools in Michigan includes Ypsilanti High School and Willow Run High School. Both schools are beginning major redesigns in the 2011-12 school year.

State superintendent Mike Flanagan said Monday he’s been asked many times why the state doesn’t simply take over all 200 failing schools in Michigan. The tricky question that he believes the EAS will answer is, “And then what?”

“This is the what,” he said. “This complements the state legislature’s action last year,” referring to a package of bills signed into law by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm that allowed the state to intervene in the lowest-performing schools, among other actions.

Roberts said the partnership with EMU would allow DPS to work with one of the premier institutions for educating teachers in the state.

“We’ve signed up to get this done together, and we’re excited to work with them,” he said.

Snyder also unveiled a campaign to raise private dollars to set up a fund to provide Michigan college scholarships to Detroit Public Schools students. He said the fund would be modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise, a widely publicized initiative in which an anonymous donor provided cash to set up a scholarship fund for students who attended Kalamazoo schools for their entire education. Business News Director Nathan Bomey contributed to this story. Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Jun 21, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

There are so many things to say in response to this plan, I hardly know where to start. First of all, lab schools? Really? These went out in the 1970s. The primary difference between a lab school and a non-lab school is that students in lab schools NEVER had experienced teachers. They ALWAYS had student teachers, one right after the other, typically for less than a full semester. Enthusiasm from young, inexperienced teachers is nice but is no replacement for solid skills that come from experience. Secondly, fire all the teachers and let them reapply? Really? And you think the best ones are going to reapply while the worst ones simply go away? Think again. We already have a hard time filling math and science positions. What makes you think "good" teachers will come flooding in to fill jobs in these difficult schools? And you think you can reduce salaries, too, since so many people believe teachers are overpaid. Wake up call here: the best and the brightest are not standing in line for jobs with inadequate pay and the disrespect so many haters are heaping on teachers. Finally, we do know a great deal about what works. On the societal front: adequate food, adequate health care, stable living environment. On the educational front: small class size (really small, 15 or fewer—this is what the research proves), enriched school environment, updated buildings, modern resources. You provide all this, and you won't have to worry about "good" vs. "bad" teachers. Everyone will be learning. Gov. Snyder sends his daughter to a private school that costs in the neighborhood of $17,000.00 a year, yet he begrudges school districts like Ypsilanti and Willow Run even $7,000.00 per student. I want a governor who says: "My child is getting an excellent education and I want to send equal resources into the schools so that every child can have the educational opportunities my children have." That's a governor I could support.


Tue, Jun 21, 2011 : 10:57 a.m.

A teacher I know said the teaches in Detroit don't need retraining, but rather they need guns. Teachers need support, but to blame the teachers by implying they need more training shows a total lack of understanding of the problem. We have to remember that the Governor sends his children to an elite private school in Ann Arbor.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

I don't support Governor Synder nor his general approach but in this case, it seems a reasonable move. I'll take the liberty, as a political opponent, of remaining skeptical. But I do like the idea of involving teachers and a teaching institution in this problem. That is a possible road to a workable improvement.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

Why all the drama? Can't we just continue to do the liberal thing and hand out passing grades and diplomas whether they were earned or not?


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Give principal's more autonomy?


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

I am glad that we finally have a Governor who will do something to save all of those children in Detroit from growing up and continuing to vote for the Democrats who just ruin their lives! With a 25% graduation rate (yes I am being kind) and Democrat rule since, forever it seems, they need to be saved!


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

I see it as a diversion to distract people's view from the horrible new state budget....deep cut on education, but a big tax break to corporations. People argue giving hug tax break to business can create jobs, but we need to take "Demand & Supply" into consideration. Most initiatives from government are proved to be more hours on administrative work & increase its cost but creates the image that they're doing something. Partnership with private partners seem passing the job to them but cutting the fund sharply soon after. People live here longer will understand such stunt they try to pull. To strengthen our students, we need strong foundation, proper values, community, teachers, parents & people work together. Government doesn't pull out so many different stunts....such as deep cut on funding, somewhat like expecting the scholarships/sponsor from private sectors (If we can get private donations, it's very good, but not mainly rely on it & cut from general fund. Don't create so many partnerships with A, B, C, F, K.....It only makes more meetings, stresses on teachers. More restraints on school professionals. If the government don't cut deep on education, professionals' morale might be higher.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

Having graduated with honors from a Wayne County school in 2004, I saw the very reasons why schools are struggling firsthand. Much of the problem wasn't the teachers, the school's budget or overspending. Frankly, in my case, I think our teachers were underpaid considering the violent students they had to deal with on a daily basis. I would like to see anyone try to teach a classroom while enduring chairs and feces being thrown at them from multiple directions. Much of what I saw on a daily basis was like watching one of those ridiculous prison shows on television. The student behavior was deplorable and parents seemed relieved that their children's anger was finally focused on someone outside of their households. There are too many factors that work in unison to hold our schools and students back. Unfortunately none are cases where the blame can easily been left to the parents or the teachers. This problem stretches far beyond their scope and lies within a deeply divided and dysfunctional society. No matter what plan of action you throw at them, this problem will continue until a healthy, functional society lays down a strong foundation for growth and development. It takes the combined efforts of our politicians, celebrities and our society as a collective whole. It is not a partisan issue, it is not a financial issue. Point blank, the issue resides in the fact that everyone is more concerned with keeping up with the Jone's instead of putting as much attention and effort into education. There is no quick fix to make this problem go away. Education should not be something we leave to anyone to decide. It is something that we should all take part of as active members in our own communities, it is something that takes constant attention and cultivation to make flourish. Until we are ready to make education a priority and keep it a priority, it will continue down it's backslide into the abyss.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:46 p.m.

Laurel, One of the best posts I've ever read here.Well said.

John of Saline

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

Discipline and punishments that stick would help here. The teachers have no backup. If half the class has to go to reform school to learn how to behave, fine.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

Excellent observation to include the "been there, done that" part.

John of Saline

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

Discipline needs to be part of the equation. Teachers need to know that they can expect some level of cooperation from students. Students who do not cooperate should be removed from the classrooms to allow the other students to learn. Any impediments (parent lawsuits, etc.) that get in the way of that should be eliminated.

Steve Pierce

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

Why not use the lottery money to fund a scholarship to pay for any High School graduate in Michigan to attend a Michigan university or community college. They do this in New Mexico and it is great, maintain a 2.5 and your tuition is paid each semester. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It encourages a large number of kids to stay in state for their education and it has given kids the opportunity to get a degree that could have never afforded one. I know of a number of families that didn't want to leave the state because they would then lose the scholarship. So they stayed in state to start new companies. It also helps in recruiting employees to the state because, if their kids graduate from a New Mexico High school, they get the scholarship. Best part, if you do it right, you don't come out after 4 years of college owing $100,000 or more in student loans. - Steve


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

I've been touting this idea for a while. Maybe even tie it to staying in Michigan for 5 years after graduating. Let us keep the best and brightest.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

I agree with you. TN does this also. Their students can attend colleges in TN or surrounding states. I would feel much better about my tax dollars being spent on sending a deserving kid to college versus paying for some of these other useless programs.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

Laboratory school? Hmmmm....the more we change, the more we stay the same. Lincoln Consolidated Schools and Roosevelt School...both were once EMU, then Michigan Normal College, laboratory schools. I have no idea why the relationship ended, but it was wonderful for students. I have great memories of student teachers and the programs that were offered. And many of our regular faculty were also faculty at MNC/EMU. Many of us were most encouraged to go on to college because these college students were so enthusiastic about their careers and education in general. I just hope they do not go nuts with measurement and paperwork and create administrative red tape.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

Joe, We need higher ed to do their share. It's about time.

joe golder

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

EMU was running a very successful math program after school at Eastabrook. I hope its still going. It was good for both EMU and Eastabrook students. Many local schools have been helped greatly by EMU.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Enough of the negative waves Moriarity. Pessimism is running rampant. Do you guys (you guys know who you are) really think that taxing the rich and business, then throwing the money at the problem is going to fix it? It's a plan. Haven't seen one from your side of the 50.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Just &quot;throwing the money at the problem?&quot; Of course, &quot;just&quot; more money will be insufficient. But is more money needed? Absolutely! Distinguish between sufficiency and necessity. Do we know how to educate young people? Of course we do. See: <a href=""></a>. Most of the problem would be solved if we could get the patients (read &quot;students&quot;) to follow the doctors' (read &quot;teachers'&quot;) directions and prescriptions. We don't blame the doctor when a patient becomes ill or fails to recover and that patient has refused or failed to take prescribed medications or other prescribed treatment. Query: How many of our students who &quot;fail&quot; do so because of this exact problem?


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

Absolutely giving money to schools makes them better. Do you really think that less money for schools is a good thing? Where did you go to school?

tom swift jr.

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

I am going to sit back and watch as Snyder attempts to solve this problem by putting the hurt on more people. The problem is not the principals, the teachers, or the schools, the problem is our culture, our society in this state, the lack of parenting, and a bad economy. EMU is not going to be able to magically solve this. 5 years from now, show me the test scores and you'll make a believer out of me, until then, it's more smoke and mirrors from a man who cares little about our children.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

The problem won't be solved without &quot;putting the hurt&quot; on people as you state. That's been the problem all along, nobody has wanted to be the bad guy. The fact that so many are complaining on here tells me he's heading in the right direction.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

&quot;... giving more autonomy to principals to hire teachers and run their own budgets and significantly reducing overall administrative costs.&quot; - How might this dovetail with a demand from school systems and many parents to combine more than one school under a single principal? Adding work and reducing the workers is not a good model, especially when the principals need to work with the educators more, rather than having to deal with the quagmire of budgets. &quot;Under the new system, employees of failing schools will be given a chance to reapply for their jobs.&quot; - I'm sure as in all organizations there are those who need to be let go, but it sounds like a resounding vote of no confidence for the entire staff. Not very motivating. Plus, it causes school systems to go back on their words (contracts). Trust is difficult to rebuild. &quot;Snyder also unveiled a campaign to raise private dollars to set up a fund to provide Michigan college scholarships to Detroit Public Schools students.&quot; This is a worry to me. We all know that in today's money based nation that money takes precidence over everything. I suspect that before too long the &quot;donors&quot; will be the dictators of policy and curriculum. I can't wait to see how the Automotive industry stikes of the 1930's and the reactions to them will be represented. Workers = great satans, GM = innocents with good hearts? At least EMU will be involved. I've always had great respect for their educational program.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

the photo caption should read: &quot;Snyder explaining to public school student that regardless of the nonstop usurping of local authority by the state, the Republicans are, in fact, the party of small government.&quot;


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Of course, if Snyder just ignored the failing cities and school systems, they would fix themselves. Right? Of course not. Something must be done. Small government doesn't mean burying one's head in the sand.

Bill Wagner

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

One factual question I really like to see answered: Will EAS run schools be participating in MPSERS (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> If all those schools are moved out of the state system, that's going to have a serious negative impact on the budgets of all the successful schools in the state. Does this takeover enable them to push those costs (currently 25% of payroll, and growing 5% per year) on other districts?


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

I am glad it is EMU, they seem to have a very grounded program that turns out some motivated teachers.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I like this a lot, as a teacher we need more people watching us and providing criticism in our classes, and I love the idea of removing as much political influence as possible. More teachers and professors need to be influencing the direction of education instead of someone that has no idea what they're doing.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

A step in the right direction. Leaving the future to the status quo would be a guarenteed disaster.


Mon, Jun 20, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

Gee, I wish they had spell check. Sorry. Should have been &quot;guaranteed&quot;.