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Lawmakers closer to expanding state control of struggling schools

Notebook and pencil laid across the pages of an open book
Jane M Sawyer
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
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Lawmakers in the state House have approved an expansion of a state-run authority to run struggling schools.      

The Education Achievement Authority already oversees 15 schools in Detroit.  Under the measure, the EAA would be able to take over schools with state test scores persistently in the bottom five percent.

It could oversee up to 50 schools at a time. 

Opponents of the expansion say the EAA has not been proven to work in Detroit. They say it would strip control from parents and communities.

Democratic Representative David Nathan of Detroit says it’s too early to tell if the EAA is working.

“If you believe that this works, or this is something that we should do, let the data prove it,” he said.

House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel adds that the legislation is an attack on public schools.

“We think that this is a heavy-handed attempt by big government Republicans to erode local control in a way that is going to lessen the most important determinants of successful schools – parental involvement and community involvement,” said Greimel.

Supporters of the expansion say public school officials have failed to turn around struggling schools. They say EAA students are more engaged and schools are safer.  Expanding the authority, they add, gives failing schools the resources they need to turn around.  

Republican Representative Lisa Lyons says she’s happy to see the bill move.

“School districts right now are setting their agenda. They’re making their plans for the 2013 school year. And we want to make sure that the EAA knows exactly what to expect of them come the 2013 school year,” said Lyons.

Republicans introduced a similar bill last year, but it stalled in the face of skepticism from Democrats and Republicans.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.

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