Michigan coalition opposes Race to Top finalist in letter to Obama, Duncan

 A large coalition of Michigan parents, PTA leaders, K-12 teachers, professors and others — including the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools — sent a letter (see text below)  to President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan protesting the selection of a new education entity as a finalist in the latest edition of Race to the Top, the administration’s signature education initiative.

The U.S. Education Department this week announced 61 finalists in the latest Race to the Top edition, this one designed to award a total of nearly $400 million in federal funds to school districts that agree to implement specific school reforms. The list of finalists was somewhat unusual, given that it was intended for districts but a few individual public charter schools won, as well as charter school networks. In Michigan, the only finalist named was the “Education Achievement Authority,” a newly created entity that will operate  the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in Michigan. The state government had applied to three previous rounds of Race to the Top, not winning any of them.

Here’s the letter that explains why so many people in Michigan oppose the naming of the EAA as a Race to the Top finalist:

 

Dear President Obama and Secretary Duncan:

We are encouraged that education continues to occupy such an important space in the national agenda, and we thank you for your efforts in promoting dialogue around this critical issue.  We are writing to share our deep concerns with the possible awarding of Race to the Top funds to the “Education Achievement Authority” or EAA in the state of Michigan. 

 The EAA, a “state reform” district modeled after the problematic New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD), was established through an August 2011 interlocal agreement between then-Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools Roy Roberts and Eastern Michigan University under the former Public Act 4 of 2011 (“The Emergency Manager Law”), an act that was repealed by the Michigan electorate in the November 6 election. Shortly thereafter, the Detroit Board of Education voted to disband the EAA and to sever ties with Eastern Michigan University.  Despite the voice of the electorate, our Michigan state legislature is pressing forward with bills during the lame duck session that would codify the EAA into state law.

 We oppose the establishment of the EAA and ask that you stand in support of Michigan voters who are deeply concerned with its impact on our children’s education and on our rights as citizens to advocate for them.  We urge that you reconsider any inclination toward funding this EAA district for several important reasons:

 1. The EAA has only been in operation for a few months and has no objective, external data attesting to its record of success.  The Chancellor of the EAA has chosen to use an instructional learning platform modeled after the “Student Centered” schools he spearheaded in a previous school district.  This learning initiative did not deliver the results his former district had hoped to see and a press release was issued to explain the disappointing results (http://www.kctv5.com/story/15208161/dismal-test-scores-for-kc-district).  As an article published in the October 3, 2012 edition of Education Week by Detroit Free Press reporter Pratt explained:

Mr. Covington implemented a system similar to the EAA’s student-centered learning in 10   schools in Kansas City, Mo., where he was superintendent before coming to Michigan in 2011.  But Kansas City scrapped the teaching method this school year—two years after it started—because of mixed test results, said Andre Riley, a spokesman for the district. He said the new superintendent there wants to take the district in a different direction. (http://pages.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/epe/ew_10032012/offline/epe_ew_10032012.pdf)

 

2. Unlike the other school districts in Michigan, there is to date no external auditing for quality assurance in the EAA, and this was reflected in the language of the original twin bills, SB 1358 and HB 6004, introduced during the lame duck session.  Without a metric that is not internal to the EAA, how will program effectiveness be measured?  How will “persistently low achieving” schools that are delivered to the EAA based on Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) scores exit from the EAA without a detailed, transparent rubric? 

 3.  The EAA receives public tax dollars but is not subject to oversight by Michigan’s elected State Board of Education.  This “new form” of school governance is particularly disturbing in its suppression of parent/community participation in the school decision-making process as there is no elected school board.  Installing an appointed Chancellor who only reports to the Governor effectively disenfranchises the citizens of Michigan.

 4.  The EAA purports to serve the neediest of students through its stated mission of capturing only the bottom 5% of schools or persistently low achieving schools (PLA) from the state’s PLA list. This past summer, however, the EAA actively recruited students from outside of the initial 15 EAA schools (formerly DPS schools) it was given to operate.  A number of Detroit parents were contacted and provided a workshop where they were briefed on how to canvass neighborhoods to “recruit” students for EAA enrollment.  They were provided with FAQ, Scripts, talking points, door hangers, and EAA t-shirts.  Promotional door hangers especially made for the Highland Park School District explained that “Since the EAA is an open school district children in Highland Park are welcomed to attend EAA schools.” Advertising materials came complete with enrollment hotlines [see enclosures]. These actions would seem to contradict the insistence that the EAA is not about “empire building.” What we appear to have in the EAA is a separate, unregulated district that receives public funds and works in competition rather than in cooperation with our elected State Board of Education.

 As citizens who care deeply about the future of our children, we ask that our concerns be respected. We ask that this yet unproven EAA campaign not be funded by Race to the Top dollars.  What would truly help Michigan is for the funding to be used to enfranchise our families, schools, and communities to engage in real reforms that benefit Michigan’s children and that reflect the will of her citizens.  We hold great hope that we will be authentic partners in a larger dialogue, and one that will have the courage to include honest conversations about the kind of contextual education reform needed to make meaningful change not only for Michigan but the nation as a whole. 

 Respectfully yours,

 Shaton Berry

President

Michigan PTA

 

Sandra York

Executive Director

Michigan PTA

 

Teresa Marhofer, Parent

President Elect

Michigan PTA

                          

Ruthann Jaquette, Parent

Michigan PTA

Board of Directors

 

David Musselwhite

Michigan PTA

Board of Directors

 

Dawn Ducca, Parent

Michigan PTA

Board of Directors

 

Anthony E. King, PTA President

Vernor Elementary School

Vice-President Detroit Council PTA

Detroit, Michigan

 

Dr. Andrea Johanson, Parent\

PTA Representative

Northville, MI

 

Barbara Anness, Parent

Vice President of West Middle School PTSA

Rochester Hills, MI

 

Cassandra Drouillard, Parent

Oakland Elementary

Royal Oak, MI

 

Catherine M. Collins, Parent

Commerce Twp., MI

 

Charla Pillow, Parent

Royal Oak School

Royal Oak, MI

 

Cynthia Murphy, Parent

Royal Oak PTA Council board

Royal Oak HS PTSA Board

Royal Oak MS PTSA Board

Royal Oak, MI

 

Dawn Short, Parent

Bennie Elementary

Allen Park, Michigan

 

Diane Hawkey, Parent

Royal Oak, MI

 

David Roggenkamp, Parent

Secretary, Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation

Treasurer, Farmington Area PTA Council

Treasurer, Farmington High School PTSA

Farmington Hills, MI

 

Debra Clancy, Parent

PTA President

Schoolcraft Elementary School

Waterford, MI

 

Debra Dawsey, Parent

Lansing Everett HS PTA

Lansing, MI

 

Deborah Walton-Medley, Parent

University High School Academy, PTSA Treasurer

Southfield, MI

 

Eden Glasser, Parent

Farmington Public Schools

Farmington Hills, MI

 

Emily Backus, Parent

Wealthy Elementary-President, PTA

East Grand Rapids, MI

 

Heather Perez, Parent

Southfield, MI

 

Hussein Ajami, Parent

President of HOWE PTA

Dearborn, MI

 

Jacquelyn Hasenfratz, Parent

Springfield Plains Elementary, PTA

Clarkston, MI

 

Jennifer Garland, Parent

NFHS PTSA President

Farmington PTA Council VP

Farmington Hills, MI

 

Kelly Wessner, Parent

Representative – Northville Public Schools

Legislative Action Network

Northville, MI

 

Cheryl McNeil, Parent

Clarkston Community Schools

Clarkston, MI

 

Lynnette Mueller, Parent

Member, Local Unit PTA and volunteer

Southfield, MI

 

Marnie Lewbel, Parent

Council President-Elect,

Birmingham Public Schools PTSA

Chair of Parent Advisory Committee to BPS Special Education

Bingham Farms, MI

 

Mary Jo Saari, Parent

Musson Elementary School

Auburn Hills, MI

 

Meg Johnson, Parent

Vice President

Dunckel Middle School PTSA

Farmington Hills, MI

 

 

Michelle VanMeter

Parent of 7th Grader

Vice President of PTSA

City High Middle School

Grand Rapids, MI

 

 

Nancy Duncanson, Parent

Secretary, PTA

Baldwin Elementary

Rochester, MI

 

 

Nicole Hill, Parent
Oakland Elementary
Royal Oak, MI

 

Rebecca DesRosiers, Parent

4th grader at Oakland Elementary

9th grader at Royal Oak High School

Royal Oak, MI

 

Sandra L. Winkler, Parent 

Bennie Elementary PTA,

Allen Park Middle School PTSA  

Allen Park , MI

 

Stefanie Hill, Parent

Farmington Public Schools

Farmington Hills , MI

 

Tari Mattox, Parent

PTA President

North Park Elementary and North Park Montessori School

Grand Rapids, MI

 

Tom Regan

Royal Oak High School PTA

Royal Oak, MI

 

Tracey Jewell, Parent

Hampton Elementary

Rochester Hills, MI

 

Tracy Viggiano, Parent

Royal Oak, MI

 

Pam Lucken, Parent

President of PTA

Bingham Farms Elementary School

Parent at Berkshire Elementary School

Birmingham Public School System

Bingham Farms, MI

 

Victoria Bauer, Parent

Member, Beadle Lake Elementary PTA

Harper Creek Community Schools BOE, Trustee

Battle Creek, MI

 

William R. Hampton, Parent

Treasurer, Walled Lake Western High School PTSA

Walled Lake, MI

 

Wendy Burke, Michigan Parent,

Citizen, and Educator

Ann Arbor, MI

 

Amy Bascom, Parent

Wayne State University

Royal Oak, MI

 

Alane Starko, Citizen

Ann Arbor, MI

 

Kathleen Baker, Citizen

Madison Heights, MI

Dr. Patricia Green, Superintendent

Ann Arbor Public Schools

Ann Arbor, MI

 

Christine Stead, Vice President

Board of Education,

Ann Arbor Public Schools

Ann Arbor, MI

 

Glenn Nelson,

Board of Education Trustee

Ann Arbor Public Schools

Ann Arbor, MI

 

Andy Ingall, Superintendent

Chelsea School District

Chelsea, MI

 

Laurel McDevitt

Board of Education Trustee

Chelsea School District

Chelsea, MI

 

Mary Marshall, Superintendent

Dexter Community Schools

Dexter, MI

 

Larry Cobler, President

Board of Education

Dexter Community Schools

Dexter, MI

 

Cherry Vannatter, Superintendent

Manchester Community Schools

Manchester, MI

 

Bryan Girbach, Superintendent

Milan Area Schools

Milan, MI

 

Craig Hoeft

Board of Education Trustee

Saline Area School District

Saline, MI

 

Lisa Slawson

Board of Education Trustee

Saline Area School District

Saline, MI

 

Kimberly Hart

Superintendent

Whitmore Lake Public Schools

Whitmore Lake, MI

 

John Mayleben

Board of Education Trustee

Whitmore Lake Public Schools

Whitmore Lake, MI

 

Kristine Thomas

Board of Education Trustee

Willow Run Community Schools

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Ellen Bonter, Superintendent

Lincoln Consolidated Schools

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Scott Menzel

Superintendent

Washtenaw Intermediate School District

 

Dayle Wright

Board of Education Trustee

Washtenaw Intermediate School District

 

Joe Romeo, President

Dexter Education Association

Dexter Schools

Dexter, Michigan

 

Julie Schumaker

Trustee

Dexter Schools

Dexter, Michigan

 

Michael Wendorf, Trustee

Dexter Schools

Dexter, Michigan

 

Dick Lundy, Trustee

Dexter Schools

Dexter, Michigan

 

Bonnie Everdeen, Trustee

Dexter Schools

Dexter, Michigan

 

Tony Baker, Ph.D

Board Member

Grand Rapids Public School District

Professor of Sociology

Ferris State University

 

Dr. Rod Rock, Superintendent

Clarkston Community Schools

Clarkston, MI

 

Diann Woodard, President

American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA)

Washington, D.C.

 

Marc A. Zigterman

President

American Federation of School Administrators – Michigan

 

Marianne McGuire

Treasurer

Michigan State Board of Education

Lansing, MI

 

Helen Moore

Keep the Vote/No Takeover Coalition

Detroit, MI

 

Maiyoua Vang

Keep the Vote/No Takeover Coalition

Detroit, MI

 

Tracy Peters

Keep the Vote/No Takeover Coalition

Detroit, MI

 

Dr. John Telford, Superintendent

Detroit Public Schools

Detroit, MI

 

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, M.Ed

Assistant Superintendent of Community Outreach

& Chief of Staff, Detroit Public Schools

Education Chair, National Congress of Black Women

Detroit, MI

 

Melissa Baker-Boosamra

Faculty, Liberal Studies

Grand Valley State University

Allendale, MI

 

Camille M. Wilson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Carolyn Shields, Ph.D

Dean, College of Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Kathleen Crawford-McKinney, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean of Teacher Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Dr.  David J. Whitin

Professor of Elementary Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

 

James F. G. Brown, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Visual Arts Education
College of Education
Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Dr. Karen M. Feathers

Reading, Language & Literature Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Francesca Pernice-Duca, PhD,
Associate Professor
Educational Psychology
Director: Counseling Psychology
Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Gail Fahoome

Program Coordinator Educational Evaluation and Research

College of Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Geralyn E. Stephens, Ed.D.
Program Coordinator
Career & Technical Education / Computer Education
Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Jazlin Ebenezer, Ed.D.
Professor, Science Education
Chair of Curriculum & Instruction Doctoral Studies
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

 

Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Mathematics Education
Division of Teacher Education
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

 

Justine M Kane, PhD

Wayne State University

College of Education

Detroit, MI

 

Mariane M Fahlman, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Health Education
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

Michael Addonizio, Ph.D.
Professor of Education Policy
Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Michael K. Barbour, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Instructional Technology/Education,

Evaluation & Research

Wayne State University
Adjunct Professor – Educational Technology

Boise State University

 

Monte Piliawsky, Ph.D.
Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Nathan A. McCaughtry, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean of the Division of KHS

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Phyllis Whitin, Ph.D.

Professor of Elementary Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Sandra Gonzales

Assistant Professor

Teacher Education

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Timothy W. Spannaus, PhD
Program Coordinator, Instructional Technology
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

 

Thomas G. Edwards
Professor of Mathematics Education
Interim Associate Dean for Research & Community Engagement
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI

 

Thomas C. Pedroni, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies

Wayne State University

Detroit, MI

 

Gary Schnakenberg
Geography Department
Michigan State University

Lansing, MI

 

Christopher G. Robbins, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Social Foundations
Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Dr. Brigid Beaubien

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Ethan Lowenstein, Ph.D

Professor of Curriculum and Instruction

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Chiron Wesley Graves, Ph.D

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology and Science Education

Eastern Michigan University,

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Joe Bishop, Ph.D.

Professor

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Karen Menke Paciorek, Ph.D.
Professor and Program Coordinator
Early Childhood Education
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI

 

Linda Lewis-White, Ph.D.

Faculty, Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Linda Williams

Faculty

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Lynn Kleiman Malinoff, EdD, Director

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Communities

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Marguerite DeBello, RN MSN ACNS-BC, CNE

Assistant Professor

Eastern Michigan University, and Doctoral Student in Educational Studies

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Marjorie Ziefert LMSW, ACSW

Professor of Social Work

School of Social Work

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti MI

 

Dr. Martha Kinney-Sedgwick

Interim Department Head

Teacher Education

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Monica K. Jarema-Shields

Taylor Public Schools

Special Education Professional

Doctoral Student

Eastern Michigan University

 

David C. Grimason

Taylor Public Schools

Science Education Professional

 

Nancy L. Copeland

Faculty

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti

 

Nicole A. Carter, Doctoral Student

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Nigora Erkaeva, PhD student in Educational Studies

Teacher Education Department

College of Education

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Pamela K. Smith, Ph.D.

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Rebecca Martusewicz, Faculty

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Steven C. Camron, JD

Associate Professor

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Toni Stokes Jones, Ph.D.

Teacher Education faculty

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI

 

Valerie Polakow, Ph.D.

Professor

Eastern Michigan University

 

Dr. Wayne Buletza, Director

Special Education Program

Olivet College

Olivet, MI

 

Gardner T. Umbarger, III Ph.D.

Associate Professor – Special Education

Saginaw Valley State University

 

Anna Richert, Teacher

Royal Oak Schools

Royal Oak, MI

 

Christine Sipperly

President

Dearborn Federation of Teachers

Dearborn, MI

 

Cristal Nichols

DPS Educator

Detroit, MI

 

Lynda Norton
Ann Arbor, MI

 

Mary Bridget Monaghan

Michigan

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | November 29, 2012