EMU hopes to ‘make a difference’ for Detroit students with its new role in state takeover of failing schools

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents formally approved the university’s participation in a new system for governing failing schools in Michigan and appointed two regents to the board of the Education Achievement System.

The regents unanimously voted to join the Education Achievement System and appointed regents Michael Hawks and James Stapleton to serve on the authority board of the new system.

EMU’s participation in the new authority was announced Monday in Detroit at Renaissance High School. The plan would restructure Detroit Public Schools and other school districts with failing schools by placing persistently low-achieving buildings under the authority of the 11-member authority. Of those 11 members, 7 are appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who was in Detroit to help announce the plan Monday.

The university would help create a “laboratory or university school” at the site of any public school that has been taken over by the EAS. It also would provide faculty and staff members to assist the new system, and conduct employee retraining. Approximately 200 schools in Michigan are considered to be failing, 100 of which are in Detroit.

“It’s going to be interesting to watch this roll out and hopefully, we can make a difference in the lives of students in Detroit,” said Roy Wilbanks, chairman of the board of regents.

The announcement in Detroit included Snyder, Detroit schools emergency manager Roy Roberts, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Wilbanks and other schools officials.

Some members of the university community aren’t happy with the way the new system was presented to employees.

Susan Moeller, president of the EMU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, told regents that administrators joined the new system without including any faculty voice.

Moeller said many faculty members were made aware of the system at the same time the rest of the public was, through a press release sent by university officials.

Moeller added that Michael Bretting, currently serving as interim dean of the EMU College of Education, was only notified about his college’s participation in the new system on the Friday before the announcement.

Moeller said the failure to include the faculty in the discussions surrounding the EAS, along with the continued search for a new provost despite faculty being away from campus on summer break, showed that university officials are not willing to include the faculty in important decisions.

Regents did not respond to Moeller’s remarks.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at kylefeldscher@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.

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