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EMU regents: No decision yet on EAA; waiting for Lansing to act

Eastern Michigan University
Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK
Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University regents have decided not to decide on the Education Achievement Authority right now.

EMU is a partner with Detroit Public Schools in the interlocal agreement that created the state-run district for low-performing schools. Gov. Snyder’s education initiative was supposed to go statewide, but never expanded beyond an initial 15 former Detroit public schools.

Despite facing fierce pressure from faculty and student leaders to withdraw from the EAA, regents delayed voting on whether to end or continue that partnership Tuesday.

“This is a postponement, not an end game,” said board chairman Mike Morris. “Withdrawing would have sent a message that probably would probably have been damaging to those [EAA] schools and those kids.”

The delay gives the EAA a de facto continuation. In the meantime, Morris said the board is waiting on lawmakers in Lansing to come up with a larger plan for overhauling all Detroit schools.

“What we didn’t want to do was put an end to something that is a very important part of the give-and-take in Lansing,” Morris said.

The non-decision came amid protests from both students and faculty, who say EMU’s continued affiliation with the EAA hurts the school’s reputation.

A recent faculty report, requested by the board of regents last year, deemed the EAA a “failure” in each of four specific areas the board ordered the system to improve on last year.

Although Morris claims that some EAA schools have shown improvement in some areas, “that’s flat-out contradicted by the evidence,” said Howard Bunsis, an accounting professor and president of EMU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

Bunsis and other faculty members called the board's decision to delay "political." Gov. Snyder appointed nearly all the current regents, though Morris denied there was any pressure or communication from the governor's office urging them to act one way or the other.

Most observers think the Lansing-based Detroit schools overhaul will ultimately end with some kind of “wind-down” for the district. The state board of education also voted Tuesday to terminate the EAA, but that board has no authority to make that happen.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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