Responsibility for turning around Michigan’s worst schools now lies directly with Gov. Rick Snyder.
His order taking direct control of school turnarounds – which was issued earlier this year – took effect Tuesday. Those duties previously belonged to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), which is governed by the elected State Board of Education (SBE).
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan insists his department will still have some influence in the process, noting the MDE still allocates funds to struggling schools.
“We’re the state education agency,” said Flanagan. “So the spirit behind it is, this forces the continued working together of both groups or there won’t be any turnaround.”
Hours after the executive order took effect, the SBE adopted a document outlining what effective school turnaround should look like.
Board Vice President Cassandra Ulbrich, D-Rochester Hills, says spelling out good turnaround policies is long overdue.
“I think that we probably should have taken this direction a long time ago,” she said. “But now that we’re under the circumstances we are, I think it’s absolutely important that we do this and we do it now.”
One of the first announcements from the governor’s office on Tuesday related to school turnaround was that Snyder has ordered a performance review of the controversial district overseeing 15 struggling schools in Detroit.
Snyder’s education advisor told the SBE that the Education Achievement Authority’s (EAA) role in future turnarounds – if any – has not yet been determined.
Karen McPhee says the governor is well aware of concerns about the EAA’s performance.
“We’re also aware of the potential,” said McPhee. “But we just don’t have an answer yet on where that’s going to fit in.”
Critics of the EAA point to mixed educational results and concerns over student safety.