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ABCs of Detroit's EAA

Michigan’s new school district and its goal to help underperforming schools

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On a steamy Saturday afternoon in late July at Detroit’s Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School, several dozen parents and students sat in gymnasium bleachers to hear firsthand what the state’s new Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) will mean for them, their community and the children who will be part of it.

The open house was one of multiple forums held during the past year at which the public has been invited to ask questions, meet administrators and more firmly grasp the revolutionary changes being instituted by the EAA in 15 Detroit public schools come Sept. 4. 

The EAA is a new state-run public school system created to help the state’s lowest performing five percent of public schools. With 4,000 public schools in the state of Michigan, that equals 200 schools. Of those 200 schools, 45 are located in the city of Detroit. Fifteen of those Detroit schools will be the first folded into this new school system for the 2012-13 school year.

“We’ve all seen the headlines that only three out of every 100 Detroit students scored proficiently on the MEAP exam,” said Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency Manager Roy Roberts at the June 2011 press conference introducing the EAA. “And that roughly 80 percent of Detroit high schools fail to produce a single college-ready graduate. We are tired of that. This system is broken. We have to do something different.”

That something different is an overhaul of the current way educational services are provided at the state’s lowest performing public schools. That overhaul will be led by Dr. John William Covington, who left his post as superintendent of Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools to take on what he acknowledges is his most challenging role yet, Chancellor of the EAA.

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