Friday, February 14, 2014

EAA expansion; EAA alternative

House Republicans appear ready to move the EAA expansion bill.  Detroit Free Press, February 12, 2014. We've written about the EAA extensively.  It's terrible policy.  But, there are two good pieces of legislation in the house regarding education.  The first would provide an alternative to the EAA through individualized planning for struggling schools. The second would authorize a study to determine what it means to adequately fund our schools and how we take account of dramatically different needs between schools. 

The first bill, HB 5268, was introduced by public education advocate Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton.  MLive, January 29, 2014.  One of the fatal flaws of the EAA is that it takes control away from local districts and mandates a one-size-fits-all fix.  The alternative takes the opposite approach:
Her bill, House Bill 5286, would require schools submitted to the state reform office to undergo an audit by the local ISD to construct a transformation plan to correct problems identified by the audit. It’s in response to claims that an expanded Education Achievement Authority would institute “one-size-fits-all” changes within a district. The bill is before the House Education Committee. [City Pulse, February 10, 2014.]
The second bill, HB 5269, was introduced by Grand Rapids area  Rep. Brandon Dillon.  The idea behind this bill is that different schools face different needs.  Schools in dense population areas have different transportation needs than rural schools.  Schools with high levels of poverty have different needs than schools in affluent areas.  School with high numbers of immigrants have a larger need to teach English as a second language.  Our current funding scheme is inadequate to address this:
This bill would require that Michigan perform a careful study to determine the true cost of providing the kind of public education we expect from our schools - something several other states have done with success. With that knowledge, we can adjust our school funding system to make intelligent choices.
 [MLive, February 9, 2014.]
The EAA alternative, HB 5268, was developed with the assistance of Michigan Parents for Schools, a grass roots advocacy group much like Okemos Parents for Schools.  House Democrats held a press conference to discuss the EAA as well as the two alternative bills:

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