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Michigan Gov. Snyder unveils ‘dramatic’ school plan

Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts unveiled a plan today to address the state’s worst performing schools.

In a press release, Snyder called the plan “dramatic.” Under the new plan, the schools in the bottom five percent of the academic progress programs will be taken over by the state Department of Education. There, the schools will be overseen by a new board made up of Eastern Michigan University officials, appointments from the governor’s office, and Roberts. The board will an 11-person board, with five of those members serving as an executive committee.

Under the plan unveiled Monday in Detroit, the new program dubbed The Education Achievement System (EAS) will pilot in only Detroit’s struggling schools. As part of the project, the schools will be run by parents, teachers and principals, according to Snyder’s press release.

Snyder and Roberts said the new Education Achievement System will restructure challenged schools in a variety of ways so that they meet parent, student and teacher needs. They include:

§ Ensuring that each child’s school has a principal that 1) is qualified and knows how to create a safe learning environment and 2) passionately believes that every child, of every background, is capable of success.

§ Spending as much money as possible in the classroom – not on administration – to help students and teachers make dramatic academic gains. Detroit Public Schools currently spends nearly half of its entire budget on bureaucracy and management, with $900 per student going simply to pay off debt. Because the system will operate on a very lean administrative structure and not be required to payout funds toward debt reduction, it will ultimately seek to push 95 percent of all school funds to the classroom.

§ Hiring teachers that have a track record or the promise of success, and then empowering, supporting and rewarding them to succeed in the classroom. Every staff member in the central office will be held responsible for supporting teachers in the classroom, and all employees will work under a “continuous improvement” model that allows staff to provide students with immediate help when they have fallen behind. Staff will be able to access a multitude of cutting edge national and local resources to bring students up to speed, regularly monitoring their progress and continuing this loop until each student achieves at dramatically higher levels.

§ Providing students with a challenging curriculum and longer school day that will allow for more instructional time in core subject areas like reading and math as well as access to the arts, music and physical education.

§ Providing every parent a voice in the future of their child’s school, including a role in the Parent Advisory Councils where they can provide direct feedback and guidance. As the school makes academic gains, the parent council will assume additional responsibilities for supporting its school.

§ Sharing local school performance data with parents so they can make an informed decision about how to get the best possible education for their child.

§ Asking parents to agree in writing to play a role in making sure their children succeed in school.

Exactly what this means for teacher contracts and union representation in the schools that are being targeted by the takeover is unknown. Messenger has asked education unions to weigh in on the situation and will provide updates as they become available. The plan also calls for the state take over of other struggling schools to hit the rest of the state by the 2012-2013 school year.

Here is an FAQ provided by the governor’s office to answer questions about the program:

FAQ.110620.educationachievementsystem.final

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