Thursday, December 12, 2013

EAA Law Passes Senate

Below I have posted the report of the passage of the EAA Bill in the State Senate late yesterday as reported by MIRS NEWS AGENCY.   There were several cross over votes from the Republican side of the Senate resulting in a very close vote.   The bill will now return to the House for concurrence and it is expected to be signed into law.   Immediate effect has yet to be included with the law.

A cap on the number of public schools being operated by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) was lifted from legislation passed by the Senate today, but the new version of the legislation also puts an 18-month moratorium on new schools entering the system.

The new version of Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4369 puts the state Superintendent in control of which schools end up being run by the state-operated authority for troubled schools as opposing to setting a 50-school limit the House agreed to this past spring.

None of Senate's new language alleviated concerns from Democrats, however, which didn't see much improvement in the codification of EAA, which is currently only operating in 15 Detroit schools as part of an inter-local agreement.

"Although I didn't think it was possible, you've actually succeeded in making this legislation worse," said Sen. Hoon-Yung HOPGOOD (D-Taylor) after seeing a series of his amendments fail.

After having sat in the Senate Education Committee for more than six months, the bill was discharged to the floor and passed, 20-18. Republican Sens. Judy EMMONS (R-Sherdian), Bruce CASWELL (R-Hillsdale), Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge), Tory ROCCA (R-Sterling Heights), Tonya SCHUITMAKER (R-Lawton) and Mike NOFS (R-Battle Creek) joined Democrats in voting no.

Senate Education Committee Chair Phil PAVLOV (R-St. Clair) said today that the bill would help address the state's academically failing schools by giving the state Superintendent Mike FLANAGANpower to address these schools through the EAA management structure.

Click to add MIRS Bill Hound HB 4369 allows persistently low achieving schools to be operated by another public school or "reform/redesign district," rather than exclusively going with a private educational management organization. It puts a priority on K-8 schools and allows for cash-flow borrowing. 

"There is no expansion of the EAA. The Superintendent cannot even make a recommendation to add schools to this list until January of 2015, no schools can go in until July of 2015," said Pavlov.

An amendment from Hopgood to increase transparency originally passed 27-11. It added provisions like subjecting the body to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), implementing annual financial audits, having a conflict of interest policy in place for board members and complies with state law regarding students with disabilities.

But the vote was reconsidered, recess was called, and then the item was temporarily passed on. On reconsideration, the amendment went down.

Caswell, Rocca and Sen. Goeff HANSEN (R-Hart) voted with the Democrats on the doomed amendment.

An amendment from Pavlov ended up addressing transparency, passing with 28 "aye" votes. It was different from the Hopgood amendment in that it didn't require contracts to be disclosed on the EAA's website, and left it up to the Department of Treasury to determine "if" the public body was subject to FOIA and the Open Meetings Act. Treasury was not named in Hopgood's version.

Hopgood offered a second amendment that would do away with the inter-local agreement, which he said lacked transparency. It went down 18-20.

He offered a third that would add a stipulation saying that the schools in the reform district could not have had declining enrollment. It went down 12-26 on party lines.

He offered a fourth saying no public school could go into a system operated by the EAA under the 2011 inter-local agreement. It went down 17-21.

Democratic Senators spoke at length in explaining their no-votes.

Sen. Coleman YOUNG Jr. (D-Detroit) echoed Hopgood's take that this was worse than what's already in place.

"This is nothing more than spilt, expired, stank nasty milk poured in a new glass," said Young.

Sen. Bert JOHNSON (D-Highland Park) spent around 45 minutes speaking against the EAA, recapping articles from various sources and talking about things like the for-profit education industry and the irony of Republican support from an ideological perspective.

Pavlov, who spoke after Johnson, said that "I think that I could have probably prepared 45 minutes' worth of comments… but I don't see a lot of value in that."

At a press conference this morning, Rep. Ellen Cogen LIPTON (D-Huntington Woods) said that the EAA had already proven it wasn't helping kids, citing declining enrollment.

"I describe it as sort of that leftover fish . . . just sort of the longer it languishes, it just keeps getting more and more rotten," said Lipton.

She said that the ideal solution was to throw this fish out, but "we're hearing that the Governor's office would like to add some spice and maybe some herbs to dress up the rotten fish."

EAA Chief Officer of Accountability, Equity and Innovation Mary ESSELMAN pointed to student gains on tests and defended the enrollment numbers, saying not all the kids were there on count day.

Flanagan Wants To Move More Schools Into EAA, May Not Be Able To
State Superintendent Mike FLANAGAN announced yesterday he wanted to move more than 10 schools into the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), but the Senate today passed legislation that would put a moratorium on new schools entering the State School Reform/Redesign District until July of 2015.

"What this is is a moratorium for approximately 18 months on any new schools moving into the EAA format," said Richardville.

MIRS asked if it were his understanding then that Flanagan wouldn't be able to put the schools he wants to into the system until after the moratorium.

"That's my understanding," said Richardville.

Flanagan released a statement this morning that called for legislation on the issue. The Race to the Top law of 2009 does not give the Department of Education the tools to address some of the mechanics involved in turning around the state's lowest performing schools, he said.

"Shame on anyone who insists on maintaining the status quo, to keep kids in this handful of failing schools where I wouldn't dare send my grandkids," he said.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

From Steve Norton @ "Michigan Parents for Schools"
**Please use the easy-to-use link below to contact your senator

TAKE ACTION! Possible vote TODAY on the EAA bill - Call your SENATOR now!

The word is out that the Michigan Senate may be moving to vote on the bill expanding the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) as early as today! There are plans to expand the EAA very soon to a number of communities across Michigan.
The EAA is a dubious experiment, foisted on families and communities without their input or agreement. The bill, HB 4369, would make the EAA a permanent part of state government and give it very broad authority. It answers to no one but the Governor, and it has the power to take over schools that score poorly on whatever bubble-test measure the Legislature cooks up.
There ARE alternatives to the EAA which would really help struggling schools and students, and use methods that have already been proven and which respect the wishes of parents and school communities. Michigan Parents for Schools has been working with legislators on developing some of these alternatives.

CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY and let them know you want real solutions, not half-baked experiments forced on parents by Lansing!



Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Update on Legislation Reported Earlier this week!

MIRS News Agency reported yesterday evening that the legislation on “Third Grade Retention” and the “Letter Rating System for Schools” did not come to a vote on the House floor as was initially indicated. 

MIRS News quoted the following legislators for the absence of the expected vote:

Rep. Colleen LaMonte (D – Montague) said that everyone was getting communications from superintendents and teachers.  “Our superintendents and our teachers are on the front lines of this.  They know what they’re dealing with.  And they know what they need.   And I think we need to be listening to them,” she said.

House Education Chairwoman Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto) says that members of the House were hearing a lot of opposition from back in their districts.  So, she is pursuing parent involvement (notice she didn’t say teachers).

Representative Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) has said, in reference to the Letter Grading System, that he would like language that would allow districts themselves to come up with additional metrics to track their performance.  He also opposes the grading system because he feels it would put Common Core standards “on steroids”, and that it would encourage teaching to the test.  (Please remember that this man has been a pretty conservative member of the House and his opposition to the grading system is probably directly related to his opposition to the Common Core standards).

IT IS EXPECTED THAT THIS LEGISLATION WILL COME BEFORE THE HOUSE AND SENATE AGAIN NEXT WEEK!!!   So, please continue to contact your legislators using the links in the blog entries below. (Wednesday’s Blog Entry!)

On the EAA front:  Dr. Vickie Markavitch, the Superintendent of Oakland Intermediate Schools has published a video explaining the EAA and the reasons for opposition to the EAA.   It is a very interesting video.  Be sure to listen by clicking the link below:

You can take action against the EAA by clicking on Thursday’s Blog Entry!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

MI Senate is looking to expand the EAA

What is the EAA?
It is the Educatiion Achievement Authority is a "state run school district" and its task is to improve struggling schools.   In its short existence, it has been operating 15 schools that were formerly part of the Detroit school district.   House Bill 4369 seeks to increase that number to 50 schools and make the EAA a part of state government and ultimately controlled by the governor of Michigan.

Why is that a problem?
First, documents that were obtained through FOIA requests show that the EAA has not accomplished much of what it was supposed to do.  Check out the website "Inside the EAA", set up by Democratic Rep. Ellen Cogan Lipton.  Click HERE
The FOIA documents show, among other things,
 that the EAA -
1) The EAA is closely aligned to the Broad Foundation founded by billionaire Eli Broad to further corporate school reform
2) The EAA lost almost 25% of their students from last year in the 15 Detroit schools
3) Financing problems - they had to borrow money from the State
4) They gave their own tests, so there are not state wide test scores that can be compared to show their effectiveness.

You should care because -
The EAA is something that you should be concerned about as teachers and parents.
1)Their operating standards include firing EVERYONE that works at the school they take over.
2)There is no way for a local community to give input.
3) HOW SOON do you think an EAA school will come to you?  How did your school do this past year on the state tests?

Connect with your state senator and give your opinion by clicking on the link below.  It is VERY easy to use by just entering your zip code.   This link is provided by "Michigan Parents for Schools".


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Retention in Third Grade & New School Rating System

PLEASE TAKE ACTION by clicking the links below!

They are available through "Michigan Parents for Schools" and are QUICK AND EASY!
The site gives suggested messages to use for your email to legislators and will automatically identify your House representative and send the email when you provide your zip code!

The HOUSE may vote on these issues THIS AFTERNOON (Wednesday)

The issues:

1) Retention of all children in third grade if they do not pass a reading test and score "proficient".

The bill addresses no way to address students who can not read "proficiently"; it only proposes to hold students back.  As educators I am sure you can think of a multitude of reasons this proposal is over simplified and could prove to be not only ineffective, but damaging.

Take action at this link:
On third grade retention (HB 5111):

2)  The second issue is the school rating system used by the Department of Education.  This past year they used a new color system that many found confusing.   The Legislature proposes remedying this by passing a bill that changes the process to a simple grading system:  A through F.

The problem; their proposal is all too simplistic.   If a school gets an A, what does that mean.   If a school gets a C, what does that mean?  Everyone has a preconceived image of what a grade means, so on the surface this bill seems to make sense.   What this bill really needs is for personnel who are PRO-education to define the ratings.  This process NEEDS to STAY IN the Department of Education and should not be done by our legislators.   We know they have not been public school friendly.  What do you suppose their "bias" might make this bill a "tool" for?

Take action at this link:
On the A-F rating system (HB 5112):