Reps. Abed, Brinks, Lamonte: Education Reform Lacks Accountability Measures

Lawmakers disappointed with bill's lack of protection for students
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LANSING - State Representatives Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) today voted against the expansion of the Education Achievement Authority in the House Education Committee because they said the bill lacks measures that would hold the EAA accountable to students, parents and voters.

“Everyone in the state wants to see our most challenged schools improve, but we have to tackle the issue in the right way,” Rep. Abed said. “I introduced amendments to House Bill 4369 that would have ensured that the people of Michigan could hold the EAA accountable, but those measures weren’t adopted by Republicans. I couldn’t vote for an education reform bill that didn’t have protections for students, parents and voters.”

Reps. Abed, Brinks and Lamonte offered a series of eight 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. The amendments also included proposals to:

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

“Without these basic assurances that EAA schools will be held accountable to Michigan families, there’s no way that I could support this bill,” Rep. Brinks said. “Public schools aren’t supposed to operate in secret. Michigan families expect better than that for their kids.”

Rep. Lamonte, who was a high school science and math teacher before joining the Legislature, said EAA schools must be held to the same standards as all other public schools in Michigan.

“As a former teacher and as a parent, I know that few things matter as much as our kids’ education,” Rep. Lamonte said. “We simply can’t afford to take chances with our kids and their schools. Any school reform must include assurances of accountability and transparency.”