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EAA no longer Only Option for Struggling Schools

State ends contract with the Education Achievement Authority
By Jake Neher
This time next year, the Education Achievement Authority will no longer be the only entity that can take over failing schools in Michigan. 
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan has notified the EAA that the state is ending its exclusive contract with the authority. That means Michigan education officials could also place schools under the control of neighboring school districts, local intermediate school districts, or other entities.
"Because there are situations where a struggling school may be better served by a neighboring school district or the local intermediate school district as opposed to the EAA," said Martin Ackley, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education. 
Critics of the EAA say it is struggling with declining enrollment, finances, and school safety.
But Ackley says the superintendent's move should not be taken as a sign the state is losing faith in the EAA.
"This is in no way a statement or an indication of a lack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies," he said. "This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most struggling schools."
Right now, the authority oversees 15 schools in Detroit. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would bolster the EAA and allow it to expand statewide. 
Superintendent Flanagan has long supported the legislation, which has been hotly debated in Lansing since 2012. But Ackley says a major factor in ending the EAA's contract has to do with the fact that the Legislature has taken so long to deal with the issue. If lawmakers are unable to pass the bill, he says options other than the EAA must be available to state education officials dealing with failing schools.