The Education Achievement Authority (EAA), Michigan’s new reform school district, has been selected as the state’s only finalist in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top-District competition.
The EAA is one of 61 finalists nationwide, competing for close to $400 million in federal funds.
Tyrone Winfrey is the Chief of Staff for the EAA. He says he's optimistic about snagging the funds.
"I think we were chosen because it's not a one-size-fits-all model," he said, "and it's basically educating students where they are, individually, within those classrooms."
If awarded the top prize, $40 million, Winfrey says his district would fund professional development and leadership training for the schools' staff members in order to better prepare students for jobs and college.
The awards are meant to support locally developed plans to personalize student learning, prepare college-ready students, and close achievement gaps.
“These finalists are setting the curve for the rest of the country with innovative plans to drive education reform in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.
“This competition was designed to support local efforts to close the achievement gap and transform the learning environment in a diverse set of districts, but no matter who wins, children across the country will benefit from the clear vision and track records of success demonstrated by these finalists.”
The EAA was instituted in 2011 to operate the lowest performing five percent of schools in the state.
It began this school year with 15 Detroit schools and is expected to expand statewide. New legislation would cement the reform district into state law.
It's part of an education overhaul being promoted by Governor Snyder.
Opponents call the new district “impersonal,” saying it would erode local control of schools districts.
The Department of Education will select 15 to 25 districts for four-year awards ranging from $5 million to $40 million.
Award winners are expected to be announced by the end of the year.
- Jordan Wyant and Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom