Michigan House Could Vote to Expand EAA Thursday

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Another push to expand the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA, could come up for a vote as soon as Thursday.

The state-run school district already runs 15 "under-performing" schools in Detroit and an expansion would mean schools in Mid-Michigan like Lansing's Eastern High School could be next.

The newly amended bill under review by House lawmakers would set a 50-school cap in place by 2015, and would prevent schools from being forced into the EAA until that time too.

Speaking with members of the media Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder again defended an expansion, arguing schools already brought into the state-run district have "dramatically improved."

"Go to a school.. the best thing to do is go visit an EAA school and talk to the kids," he said.

"If you talk to teachers and students in these schools, you will see that there's real learning going on, and these were schools that had terrible track records for learning."

The most recent revisions are coming after the proposal stalled out in the Legislature at the end of last year.

"We're being cautious in moving forward, we're not just going to throw a bunch of schools in and see what sticks to the wall," said Anna Heaton, deputy press secretary for the House Republicans.

"We're adding them slowly and making sure they have the resources they need to help these kids who are in the worst schools of our state."

The revision also includes an exemption for so-called Center Programs, which provide learning services for special education students.

"We're not trying to go in and tell teachers how to teach," she said. "Maybe the system isn't perfect yet but we're going to make it perfect, we're going to help [these students] learn and move forward in their education."

Heaton said there hadn't been a decision made on when the House would vote on the revised legislation, but wouldn't rule out Thursday as a possibility.

Regardless of the revisions in the latest proposal, those opposed are arguably more against the EAA now than they've ever been, with some like Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, calling it inept.

"No increase is warranted, this has been a failed disaster pretty much from day one," he said.

Hopgood, who contends the idea should be abandoned altogether, points to a nearly 40 percent decline in enrollment at schools brought into the EAA.

"People are not leaving the EAA, they're running away as fast as they can," he said.

"I stand even more certain now than ever that the Authority is inept at educating or even safeguarding its own students, let alone capable of expanding statewide."

The House version of the bill would allow intermediate school districts the option to take over an under-performing school themselves.

Meanwhile, the Senate version of the bill eliminates a cap on the number of schools which can be brought under the authority.

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