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Michigan House Debates Expanding Troubled Schools Agency


By a single-vote majority, the state House has approved a measure that allows Michigan to put some of the worst-performing schools into an alternative system. It expands a bill approved a year ago that created the Education Achievement Authority, which currently runs 15 schools in Detroit.

State Representative Lisa Lyons chairs the state House Education Committee. She says this measure builds on that effort.  "The bill allows for more tools to be used to turn around failing schools. Those options range from local opportunities like intermediate school districts or local school districts or innovative opportunities like charter schools or the Educational Achievement Authority." 

Democrats and teachers unions don't agree. David Hecker is the President of the Michigan Federation of Teachers and the union opposes the expansion. He says the student test results don't support putting more schools into the authority.  "It opens up more schools to come into the EAA. The EAA has proved to be a failed experiment. It is not the solution that some people thought it would be. So why are we advancing a system of schools that has been proven not to work." 

The legislation would allow the authority to run as many as 50 schools. It also allows for the worst-performing schools to be taken over by an intermediate school district or a charter academy. 
The final version of the bill could be voted on by the state Senate next week and sent to the governor's desk.

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.