The House Democrats' Education Task Force sat down for the first time on Monday to hammer out different solutions for Michigan's failing schools. The group was formed in response to Republican efforts to expand the Education Achievement Authority, a state-run district that would take over consistently failing schools. It currently only operates in Detroit, but could take over Eastern High School if it expands and if Eastern doesn't show improvement in test scores.
Monday, the task force heard from education consultant Rossi Ray-Taylor, who's also the former deputy superintendent of the Lansing School District.
"Some districts around the state where there have been a lot of change and disruption over time, they really don't have a chance to get hold to make the kind of reforms they need to make," said Ray-Taylor.
Ray-Taylor also talked about giving failing schools the resources and flexibility to succeed and also the stability to make improvements at the local level.
"The best source of change is the level closest to the student," said Ray-Taylor.
The group didn't reveal formal recommendations yet, but members hope to have a package of recommendations by September. House Democrats say expanding the EAA is not the solution.
"We want to make sure any education reforms actually have verifiable data that we can look to," said Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids.
Meanwhile, the sponsor of the EAA bill reacted to the task force's first meeting.
Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto released the following statement:
"It's unfortunate the Democrats sought to go it alone rather than work with their Republican colleagues. Nevertheless, as we continue to move forward on ensuring every student in Michigan has the opportunity for a quality education, I applaud any group of people working to make sure Michigan's education system is top-notch. I look forward to reviewing the Democrat task force's findings."