What is the MEAAS: The Michigan Education Achievement Authority System is a statewide school district implemented through a collaborative agreement with Detroit Public Schools and the Eastern Michigan University. The new statewide district, which will operate next school year in an incubation mode, will take DPS’s historically underperforming schools out of the districts jurisdiction and place them into the EAA’s. The district will gradually begin to take control of other schools from other districts during the 2013-14 school years if they have a consistent track record of failure. The district is a model of Louisiana’s Recovery School District which yanks schools from local school districts, EMO’s and CMO’s and moves them into the states district.
How the MEAAS and DPS will co-exist: The MEAAS maintains that the consistently failing Detroit Public Schools has many schools of promise within their control and the MEAAS is only interested in revoking control of the historically failing ones (based on NCLB standards).The MEAAS and the DPS will give students options of moving between the two districts and both will offer special education services.
The Overlooked Truth of the Fact: Some of the people within DPS and some community leaders are expressing serious concern about auto segregation within the two systems. Although, both DPS and MEAAS maintain that students can move between the systems, just like students in Louisiana’s RSD and Orleans Parish School Board can that doesn’t always happen. This may be an even more harrowing fact in Detroit, where the city school board once got so perturbed with negligent parents that they sought to make inattentive parenting a crime. Furthermore, since the MEAA also has the authority to take over charter schools, it’s possible for the MEEA to become the state’s chief public school district, with control within schools that may have to regularly turnover their support staff. It’s also possible for the DPS and other local school districts to push their children into MEAA controlled charter schools that are deemed “high risk” or “problematical as means of assurance that their districts get high ratings from the Michigan Department of Education. It’s also probable for the MEAA to “coincidently” end up with students that are better academically prepared and therefore making the MEAA a storehouse for the states incomparable children while enabling the state to note that the program is a success due to its high test scores.
MEAAS’s leadership: MEAA maybe walking into the same shortfall that Atlanta Public Schools, New York City Board of Education, and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District walked into. They all, like MEAA just did, went after a director who was thought to have brought their previous districts back from the edge of collapse to the center of commendation, or they selected a leader who was abhorrently inexperienced. Their leader however, left his previous district during the middle of his tenure, without state accreditation after two years of tenure as its head due to consistent failure to meet or surpass state standards. The issue in Michigan is that the state instituted this district to remove schools that constantly fail under local control and plans to place them under the leadership of someone who couldn’t even do that with a local school district. It’s safe to speculate that the MEAA may end up failing some students due to the states republican leaders failing to see that the person they choose to, for all intents and purposes, fix their education system demonstrated inability to do so in another district. You would have thought that MEAA would have taken note from former Toledo City School superintendent and Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eugene Sanders who left the district in a moderate state of despair, during his tenure, to attempt to lead another educational institute. However, they didn’t, they instead gave someone with no real track record of academic success, high turnover, and a history of failure amongst districts (both big and small) a position that puts him in charge of schools that have been known to consistently fail students in one of the hardest hit cities in America. If anything this may make MEAA the state controlled equivalent to DPS in a sense that competence is clearly lacking within the newly created district and that mismanagement and distrust may become the precedent within the system.
What this means for students: Students within DPS and the newly created MEAA will become the real victims of the states apparent pre-mismanagement. Just like Louisiana, the state will work to assertively charter schools or to return them to their districts under the old paradigms in which they had been removed from. The MEAA plans to overtake the schools, dump the entire staff and start freshly in “Continuous Improvement” mode. Meaning, that if the school, under MEAA authority, fails that the MEAA will just persistently turnover the schools essential staff until the school is shut down for continuous failure, which could potentially create a culture of adherent instability in a city where stability is not present in education. The MEAA also plans to take over charter schools and to convert existing public schools to charters which in actuality makes no sense due to the fact that this implies that the states charter schools operate better than the public schools. However, in Michigan, 80% of charters are owned by for profit companies such as National Heritage Academies and KIPP: Schools and a mass majority of those schools are prone to be pulled into the MEAA’s authority due to their inadequate performance. This means, that after the MEAA “reforms” a school, gets it stable enough to operate it will turn it back over to for profits like NHA or to districts where failure is inevitable. Furthermore, the fact that the MEAA is opting to take control from charter operators reduces the moral of charter operating, in a sense that EMO’s can open charters, put them in historically underperforming neighborhoods, hire inexperienced teachers, and push students by the wayside while still securing funding way past their contract negotiation date just to be saved by the MEAA which essentially ensures there in operation for an additional 3-5 years. This means that EMO companies can secure state tax dollars at the students cost. What makes this even more troubling is that DPS has a historic issue with parental involvement within in schools, and the charters have no better success there. Some charters use methods to force students out with weak parental involvement but some don’t, and the ones that don’t are usually the ones who perform weakly on the states assessment tests. Meaning, that EMO’s can come in, open shop, partially operate schools and keep students enrolled even if the quality of the education is no better than what DPS is willing to offer. This being noted, it is unlikely that if DPS and the charters can get parental involvement, it is even more unlikely for MEAA to do the same. It’s further more unlikely that the MEAA will enforce this on charters under their control as the system works from the bottom up.