Rep. Brinks: Lack of Transparency in EAA Expansion Bill Led to 'No' Vote

House Republicans resist measures to hold EAA accountable to voters
Thursday, March 21, 2013

LANSING - State Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) voted against the expansion of the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) today because she said the bill lacks measures that would hold the EAA accountable to students, parents and voters and offers no real solutions that would improve education in Michigan’s most troubled schools.

“Everyone wants to see a better education for students in our state’s most challenged schools, but we need to do this the right way,” Brinks said. “Rushing to expand an untested and unproven model across the state isn’t the way to do it. Keeping the EAA from being held to the same standards of accountability and transparency as every other school district isn’t the way to do it, either. I support education reform, but I want reforms that will work.”

House Democrats, including Brinks, offered several amendments that would have brought the EAA under the oversight of the state’s elected Board of Education and ensured that the workings of the EAA remain transparent. All of the amendments were rejected by House Republicans. The amendments also included proposals to:

  • Limit the terms of EAA members to four years
  • Subject EAA schools to the same testing and reporting standards of all other public schools
  • Require the State Reform Officer, with oversight from the state Board of Education, to determine which schools enter the EAA system
  • Ensure that EAA schools aren’t converted into for-profit charter academies
  • Subject the EAA to the Freedom of Information Act
  • Require the formation of parent groups in EAA schools
  • Require monthly meetings for EAA schools akin to the monthly board meetings held in every school district across the state

“Like every other responsible parent, I want to be involved in my children’s education,” Brinks said. “Expanding the EAA statewide when it prevents parental and community involvement is irresponsible. I can’t support a bill that limits school accountability and takes an unproven experiment in school reform statewide.”