“Chaos erupts as EMU votes to remain with EAA”

I don’t have time right now to give this subject the attention that it deserves, but I wanted to pass along this breaking news item from Ypsilanti, where Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents have voted 6-2 to continue the charade of legitimizing Rick Snyder’s controversial Education Achievement Authority (EAA). Here’s video from the Regents’ meeting followed by a clip from the Detroit Free Press.

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents voted this afternoon to continue – for at least a year – its controversial relationship with the Education Achievement Authority, drawing jeers, shouts and a demonstration that nearly shut down the meeting.

“Shame on you,” many people in the audience shouted as Regent Mike Morris proposed continuing the relationship, but working to create a stronger relationship with the EAA, as well as demand more transparency and accountability.

A majority of the board agreed with him, though Regent Jim Stapleton said his vote to continue the relationship with the EAA, the state’s reform district for the lowest-performing schools, was with reservation.

“I am disappointed promises were made to our school about our level of participation that to date have not been kept,” Stapleton said…

Speaking of Stapleton, who was appointed to the Board of Regents by Jennifer Granholm, audio recently surfaced of him explaining to EMU faculty how the EAA came about, and what EMU had been led to believe at the outset. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I’d recommend it. It’s enlightening. Here’s a clip from the transcript.

“We thought this would be an enrollment play for us, because 68% of our students come from within 20 miles. We were told this was going to be a statewide school district, not just an urban school district, not just Detroit. So we thought that if we could have a presence… And fundraising dollars, foundation dollars that they promised us would be going through our foundation. And we thought, quite frankly, that since we were going to help the Governor with this, that we’d have some sort of benefit in terms of State appropriations. Well, guess what? None of those things happened…” –Jim Stapleton, September 22, 2014

And, about nine weeks after that was recorded, Regent Stapleton, along with five of his fellow Regents, voted to renew the relationship between EMU and the EAA.

Does that seem odd to anyone? He admits that the University got nothing out of the deal, and that they’d been misled by Snyder, but then he went ahead and agreed to keep the deal in place. One wonders what kind of interest Stapleton may have in helping the Governor when he’s already made it clear that the deal isn’t in the best interests of EMU, or, for that matter, the children of Michigan.

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  1. Posted December 6, 2014 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    This vote really surprised me, given what I’ve been hearing about EMU College of Education students not being able to find placements in Michigan schools as a result of the University’s association with the EAA.

    BACKGROUND: Michigan’s public schools have very little power to fight back against Snyder and the EAA, and, unfortunately for EMU students, one of the things they have been able to do, as I understand it, is essentially blacklist young teachers coming out of Eastern. As I’ve heard this from several sources, I’m inclined to believe there may be some truth to it. Assuming it is, I can’t believe that EMU would re-up with the EAA.

  2. Posted December 6, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I think it surprised everyone. The faculty person at EMU who has kind of taken on the lead role as organizer to get us out of the EAA, Steve Wellinski, was quoted in one of the metro area newspapers just the other day as saying he fully expected the board to vote to get EMU out of the EAA. But I guess not.

    It’s a political hack-job, pure and simple. What you have going on here is Snyder’s appointed board members voting for this because if EMU actually does get out of the EAA, the EAA has even less footing and it might go away entirely. Stapleton, besides being just kind of generally confused, is one of these guys who has all kinds of mysterious consulting and related contracts. So he might have ended up voting for this because even though he says he’s against it and it’s bad for the students and all that, he may very well be personally making money off of all this.

    No doubt that there will be a lot more about all of this at EMUTalk.org in the coming year.

  3. Posted December 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    How do we change the law so that EMU Regents are elected, and not appointed? This is a mess. We should not have unaccountable political appointees making these decisions.

  4. Posted December 7, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    As I understand it, the only way to really change this is to change the state’s constitution. There’s something in there about how the regents of universities (other than U of M, MSU, and Wayne State) are appointed– or maybe it’s the other way around, that the regents at U of M, MSU, and Wayne State are elected. Regardless, it would be more than just changing a law, unfortunately.

  5. Meta
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    From Eagle Totem.

    Make no mistake, fellow EMU enthusiasts, what is taking place is a battle of political patronage versus the will of the students, faculty, alumni, and anyone who cares about this institution. The battle of the EAA has taken place on many fronts. More knowledgable voices than mine have articulated the reasons why this affiliation has to end.

    There is more going on here than the nuts and bolts of why the EAA is an affront to quality, caring education. This is politics, and if you want to get down to politics, you are fighting on my home turf.

    EMU Board of Regents: Unelected Oligarchs with Too Much Power

    Eastern Michigan University is an academic institution. It has its own governance — according to the EMU website, “The University is constitutionally autonomous.” Therefore, it is rational to apply terms and standards that we would normally apply to governments to describe the current state of the EMU community.

    Susan Martin is the President of the University, appointed by the Board of Regents. The President oversees the institutional bureaucracy, including the Athletic Department. The Board itself maintains broad powers, not the least of which is presidential appointment.

    The students and faculty are the “citizens” of this government. The students are allowed to elect their own representatives, but EMU Student Government power is extremely limited. A particularly charismatic Student Body President can work as an organizer, rallying students to a cause or issue relevant to the students’ interests.

    If a secure majority of the Board of Regents wishes to act in a certain way, there is little the University President, faculty, or student government can do. The Board members are not directly elected, instead they are appointed by the Governor. The EMU citizens are therefore forced to accept that an elite group will be imposed upon them, one that they have no direct input into who is selected. This is in direct contrast to MSU, Michigan, even Wayne State University.

    Quite often, the rationale behind selecting certain individuals to fill slots on the Board of Regents is political reward. The individuals serving may not have the proper qualifications or temperament to sit on the Board. A seat on the Board of Regents is a sweet plum, not unlike President Obama appointing a campaign donor to an ambassadorship. Board seats are offered to those who are in favor with the governor, be it personally, politically, or policy-wise as well.

    Given the truth of these facts, when the Board of Regents exercises their power in stark opposition to the overwhelming general will of the EMU citizenry — the faculty, students, and administration — we can say with clarity and certainty that Eastern Michigan University is ruled by an oligarchic junta.

    Very rarely does a political issue seep so deep that a major university becomes the battleground in a larger political war. A united Board of Regents can act in a way counter to the interests of the student body and faculty. Perhaps this is why Michigan, Michigan State, and Wayne State have Boards that are directly elected by citizens.

    This is where we stand today, gentle reader. The reputation of EMU is the battleground on which the political war over education is taking place. My fear is that once the dust settles, once the political leaders have moved on to their next abominable project, EMU will be left looking like the Verdun battlefield.

    Read more:

  6. J.E.
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    During the roll call vote Stapleton tried to explain his vote but was shouted down by protesters. He was the only one of the three Granholm appointees to vote yes, and the only one of the three whose term is not expiring.

  7. Mr. Y
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    From the EMU Board of Regents code of ethics:

    “In carrying out their duties, however, Regents must keep the welfare of the entire University paramount over any parochial interests. Regents should refrain from actions and involvements that might prove embarrassing to the institution.”


  8. Posted December 8, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Y: That’s all well and good, but the Regents are accountable only to the governor (and perhaps to courts). You could have a petition signed by every single student, instructor, and alumnus/a, and the Regents could ignore it with impunity if they have the governor’s support.

  9. Mr. Y
    Posted December 9, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The fact that a code of conduct exists tells me that there’s likely a process in place for dealing with instances when people violate it. I haven’t looked into it enough, however, to know how it works. I suspect that you’re right, and that the Governor could stop it if he wanted to, but that doesn’t mean that a complaint shouldn’t be filed.

    What I find curious about Stapleton’s comments is that, when justifying the decision to join the EAA, he never mentions the kids of Michigan who were to be served by the EAA, or EMU students and how this might impact them. He says that he thought state money would follow, and that it could lead to greater enrollment, but he never says that the regents felt they could help turn things around in Detroit public schools. He never said, “The system at the time was failing these kids, and we felt that we could help.” The impression I got, having listened to him talking with faculty, is that this was nothing but a business deal. They had no intention of helping the kids of Detroit. The state just needed a signature and they signed. I think that’s unconscionable.

  10. Mr. Y
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    To EMU students, faculty and staff:

    Governor Snyder this afternoon announced the appointment of two new members to the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents. They are EMU Emeritus Professor of Communication Dennis Beagen and Michelle Crumm, CEO of Present Value.

    The news release from the Governor’s office is below:


  11. Meta
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I posted this to a comment thread about the EMU-sponsored Digital Inclusion program, but then it occurred to me that the Carnegie Foundation, when assessing EMU’s impact, may not have considered the EAA and what its doing to Michigan schools.

    The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has again recognized Eastern Michigan University for its deep level of community engagement, designating EMU as one of America’s colleges or universities that excel at interacting with their surrounding communities.

    The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1906, is a highly regarded independent higher education policy and research center.

    Of the more than 4,500 public and private four- and two-year degree-granting colleges and universities in the U.S., only 240 received the Carnegie Foundation’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification. That group of 240 campuses joins 121 institutions that earned the classification during the 2010 process.

    “Community engagement is one of the hallmarks of the University’s mission and success,” said Susan Martin, Eastern Michigan University president. “We believe the essence of a great, historic 165-year old public university is to create well-educated citizens who give back to their community.

    Read more:

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  1. […] about this time, the Republican political appointees who control Eastern Michigan University (EMU) chose to continue their sponsorship of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s controversial Education… despite the urging of EMU President Susan Martin, the faculty, and the students. Saying that […]

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