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Eastern Michigan University to continue participating in EAA

Board postpones withdrawal despite fierce opposition, protest

Under the Educational Achievement Authority's partnership agreement, the Eastern Michigan University Board must give the state 6 months notice of its withdrawal.

On Tuesday they postponed the vote on withdrawal, essentially approving continued involvement at least until June.

Calling it a failed experiment, institutional racism, and an embarrassment to the university, leaders from the faculty union, student body and longtime Detroit school activists called on the Board to pull the plug. They cited a faculty review of the program.

"The report by the faculty makes it clear the EAA failed to achieve its goal. It is not helping the students it is designed to help. It has serious problems with transparency. It is not helping EMU, it is severely hurting our students. And it's severely damaging the College of Education," said Edward Bunsis, of the EMU Professor's Union.

The regents extended the agreement last year over the EMU president's objections. Before signing on they demanded a stronger partnership, demonstrated student progress, better fiscal accountability and improved transparency.

But enrollment has dropped and scores have fallen at most of the EAA schools.

"The EAA has been shown to have highly questionable business practices, evidenced by the reports by four budgeting practices and the investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Steven Cole, EMU Student Body President.

"The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that (the Board's) decision is purely political," said Judy Kullberg, Faculty Senate vice president.

Eastern Michigan University Board Chair and EAA board member Mike Morris acknowledges shortcomings, but says pulling out now would only hurt the Detroit students they serve.

"And we're making some progress very, very slow. But some progress. And it's for those kids to have a chance at the same lives we've all had," said Morris.

There are reports the state is exploring turning the EAA schools into charters and have a for-profit manager come in. Governor Rick Snyder is also determining what role the EAA will play in his school reform package, which he could announce at any time.