To the Parents and Friends of Plymouth-Canton Community Schools –
Although all the news from Lansing lately is about “Right to Work,” behind the scenes there is still education legislation that is moving forward behind the scenes and, if passed, would have profound effects on Michigan’s public schools, and on PCCS in particular.
This legislation pertains to the EAA (Education Achievement Authority). The EAA was formed a year ago as a kind of separate “school district” in Detroit that would take over the Detroit schools that fall in the bottom 5% of schools based on student achievement. The legislation now in Lansing would expand the EAA’s authority and allow it to take over any school in the state that is in the bottom 5%. Although the likelihood of that ever being the case in Plymouth-Canton is slim to none, wherever it did occur it would be taking local control away from elected school boards. It would, in essence, be creating a statewide school district.
On top of that, the EAA would be totally independent of any local control. According to the proposed legislation, it would not even be accountable to the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools. It would report directly to the Governor. It would not have to administer the MEAP tests, which, though not a perfect testing system, is still the one common yardstick used to determine if students are making progress on basic skills.
Of most concern to us in Plymouth-Canton is the provision that would allow the EAA to take over vacant school buildings, wherever they are located. If we closed a school in Plymouth-Canton, we would be required to put that school on a state listing of vacant school buildings and keep the school (even though vacant) in operating condition for two years. During these two years, the EAA could, by paying the appraised value of the building, purchase it without our consent for the appraised value, even if we could have got more than the appraised value by selling it to a non-school entity.
We in Plymouth-Canton support school reform. No organization, schools included, can survive without constantly trying to improve. The EAA, however, has been in existence for only a year, with very mixed results in Detroit. To legislate it as the premier answer to underperforming schools statewide does not make sense. There are other school improvement strategies that have proven success and deserve to be considered. Most of all, the local authority of school boards should be preserved and not taken away and given to an independent state “super district.”
If you share these concerns, please contact our legislators. This Thursday is the last day of the “lame duck” session and these school bills are looming on the horizon for last minute consideration.
- Senator Pat Colbeck - SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov
- Representative Kurt Heise – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Representative Dian Slavens – email@example.com
I am writing this email representing myself only and do not claim to be speaking for the Board of Education.
Jeremy M. Hughes, Ph.D.