Flashpoint: Discussing the EAA, State of the Region Report

DETROIT – It was a tough week for the EAA. It’s been controversial since its inception and critics say there hasn’t been any improvement in the schools. With indictments coming down against a former principal and tutoring vendor Thursday, the debate has been heating up surrounding the EAA.

The State of the Region Report was released by the Detroit Regional Chamber and it shows tremendous growth in Michigan.

Devin Scillian is joined by Lamar Lemmons, Detroit Board of Education member, Reggie Turner, former Michigan Board of Education member, and Bankole Thompson, columnist for the Detroit News, to discuss the EAA. Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Matt Cullen, president and CEO of Rock Venutres, Dennis Archer, Jr. president and CEO of Ignition Media Group, Daniel Howes, business columnist for the Detroit News, joins Devin to discuss the State of the Rion Report on this week’s Flashpoint.

“They took money from the Detroit Public Schools to found it, took our staff, took our resources to even create the EAA,” said Lemmons. “Then they put schools that did not qualify to be added to the EAA.”

Devin said that these schools were preforming very badly and to do nothing would be its own kind of malpractice.

“It’s important to understand why the EAA was created,” said Turner. “This was a bipartisan effort  to ensure that the lowest preforming DPS schools got special attention.”

Turner explained how the EAA was initially funded and how schools were first chosen.

The conversation shifted to the indictments that came down Thursday. Devin noted that it wasn’t the EAA that indicting, but they against behavior within the EAA.

“What’s important to note is that the EAA uncovered this wrongdoing through an internal investigation and turned it over to the police department, cooperated with the police department which has led to these indictments,” Turner said. “I don’t think anyone would suggest that there has never been any wrongdoing at DPS or any other school district in the state of Michigan.”

Thompson talked about how this public body has lost the public’s confidence and that the EAA should be redefined.

“With the indictments and just the financial practice and the allegations that we basically see unfolding, I think it’s bad for the EAA,” Thompson said. “I think it’s losing public confidence every minute, every second, and I think the governor needs to take a second look at the EAA, perhaps possibly remove or scrap the EAA because this entity has lost public confidence. No one will send their child to an entity that is called the lowest preforming schools.”

In the second discussion on Flashpoint, Devin and Baruah talked about the State of the Region Report which showed incredible growth in southeastern Michigan.

Baruah said that there are three takeaways from the State of the Region Report. He said that the region has made tremendous progress since 2009, that there are serious challenges that must be addressed, and that the region must continue to grow.

Devin and Baruah looked at a few statistics from the report especially the 18 percent GDP growth for the region between 2009 and 2014.

“When you look at GDP growth, we have a $10,000 a year per capita income gap between us and some leading cities like Seattle or Dallas,” Baruah said. “Yes, we’re making great progress, but that shows you how much further we have to go.”

Employment numbers are up but Baruah said that the region still has a lot of catching up to do.
The panel discussion about the future of the EAA is available in the video above and the conversation about the State of the Region Report is available below.

Devin and Baruah were joined by the panel to discuss the future of Detroit.

Cullen talked about the opportunities available in the city for the college educated and for those without higher education.

“I think that the number is somewhere around 28 percent of Detroiters have college degrees,” Archer said. “College is not for everyone, that’s not the answer for everyone, but I think that the importance of education should still be stressed.”

Devin mentioned that it is widely believed that Detroit can only go so far without a change to education.
“I think that’s true,” said Howes. “I think the situation that we have right now with Detroit Public Schools are a mess and no one has found a solution. That is going to be something that plagues the mayor.”

Education became the focus of the panel and how changes to the public school system in Detroit would be the only reason young people who moved to the city would end up staying. The panel discussion is available below.