Rep. Driskell: Lack of Local Control in EAA Expansion Bill Led to 'No' Vote

House Republicans resist measures to hold EAA accountable to voters
Friday, March 22, 2013

LANSING — State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) voted against the expansion of the Education Achievement Authority yesterday 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.

“We don’t know enough about the EAA, and I have very serious concerns about expanding an unproven system,” Driskell said. “The EAA school expansion is being called a reform, but there is no proof that it will improve education and there is no opportunity for parents and taxpayers to impact its actions. This completely subverts local control. “

House Democrats 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

“I have heard from teachers, parents, administrators and local school board members on this issue, and not one of them has been supportive of this government takeover of our local schools,” Driskell said. “Because the EAA has not operated for a single school year, there simply is not data to justify this removal of local control, especially without any mechanism for accountability and transparency to the taxpayers.”