Families in Several Cities Sent Deceptive School Enrollment Notices

ALERT: Families in Several Cities Sent Deceptive School Enrollment Notices from EAAdinos02sidelogo3

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 31, 2014)

Families across South Oakland County have been receiving strange notices in the mail saying that their children are to report to EAA-run schools on the first day of class instead of their own. Titled “Confirmation of 2014-2015 School Assignment,” the letters say that students have been selected to be part of the EAA school.

The letters come from the Educational Achievement Authority, which is a state-run school district that was intended to take over “failing” schools and put them under state administration. The notices have come as a surprise to gallowaycollens1school officials and families alike, and Ferndale Superintendent Blake Prewitt is among those urging families to disregard the misleading notices.

“Families should send their kids to their local school, in their local district, where they pay taxes, where they have elected board members, and where they have teachers and administration that is dedicated to working with their kids,” Prewitt said.

Prewitt pointed out that the EAA was intended for failing schools, not to lure students away from successful schools. On top of it, he said “there is zero evidence that EAA is working. In fact, there is evidence that it is seed01_jack_millernot working.”

Schools in the EAA have been criticized for falling short of expectations. In late 2013, State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton spoke about the EAA. She and other elected officials spent the summer touring the state, talking to education experts. “What we’ve found is that most of the time when the state comes in and takes over a school district, not only does the district not improve, but it actually gets worse.  And the reason why, we’ve found, is that the fabric of the community is often times ripped apart.”

In addition to the impact on communities and students, the lack of transparency has Lipton worried.  Last year she battled for public records to be released.  “One of the things we found is an enormous amount of petsittingmoney being paid to private vendors to provide, for example, special education services that are not being provided. So there’s a lot of money that is being spent that doesn’t seem to be making it to the classroom,” she said. “Rather than requiring a vendor to come before an open meeting and justify what they do to local school boards, it becomes very easy now to basically go through one point of entry.”

Reaching out to take students, and consequently funding, away from local public schools is a new tactic for the EAA.

Ferndale School Board President Jim O’Donnell said “On behalf of the Ferndale Public Schools Board of Education, I am appalled at this deceptive letter from the EAA. This not only is confusing to public school families that have nothing to do with EAA schools, it is a waste of money by an unaccountable state entity. Jim Shaffer KELLER ad blackNow, our local public schools have to use their limited resources to clean up an EAA mess. Our State Representative, Ellen Lipton, has rightly fought for transparency and accountability for the failed EAA and this is another example of why the EAA experiment should end.”

Prewitt opposes the EAA because of the lack of representation and accountability. “Politicians talk so much about local control, but where is the local control if the state is trying to make a state-wide school district where local people do not have a say in how their schools are run?”

Letting parents know that their kids still have a place in their own local districts is the first step. The second essentialis making sure parents and concerned community members are engaged in the political process driving the EAA.

Ferndale School Board Trustee Karen Twomey has been active in lobbying against the EAA and in favor of local public school funding. “With the upcoming November elections the power of our voices will be huge. Make sure all candidates know that this is an unacceptable expansion of a failed experiment which removes local democracy, oversight and transparency,” she said. Twomey, who is a teacher in West Bloomfield Schools and a parent with children in Ferndale Schools, was shocked that the EAA sent the letter to her home.

Letters have also been reported in Hazel Park, Oak Park, Southfield and Grosse Pointe.HowesLocation

“If you have any questions about where to send your child, call your local school district. We’re happy to make sure you know where you are going,” Prewitt said.

The official EAA website it at http://www.michigan.gov/eaa/.

Lipton and others who oppose the EAA have created a website called “Inside the EAA,” which can be found at http://insidetheeaa.com/.


For previous stories about the EAA and public school funding see:


seed02_sharon chesshttps://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/03/13/view-education-achievement-authority-expansion-moving-forward/










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