Eastern Michigan University will not be in the 2013 U.S. World News and Business Report’s teacher preparation review, because a deal couldn’t be reached between EMU and the National Council of Teacher Quality.
“Because of Eastern Michigan University’s insistence on charging over $2,000 for the necessary documents, they will not be included in the 2013 review that is going to be released this June,” said Arthur McKee, managing director of teacher preparation studies for NCTQ.
McKee said the review could show how well EMU ensures teachers know the subjects they will teach. He also said the national study will give a sense of what’s working with teacher preparation across the country.
“This study will show schools where to hire, where to look for the better teachers,” he said.
A Freedom of Information Act request was sent to EMU’s legal affairs office from NCTQ in January 2012. EMU replied a month later with a price of $2,023 to send the requested documents, as well as requiring a 50 percent down payment to start the retrieval.
Geoff Larcom, EMU’s executive director of media relations, said other schools might have different requests or different means to acquire their information.
“This was a very extensive FOIA request. Our FOIA estimates are regulated by law, are very carefully calculated and based only on the time it actually takes us to search for and compile information,” he said.
McKee said he believes it will not take longer than 20 hours to complete the document retrieval, and that the average cost from schools that cooperated was around $270. EMU’s legal office estimated the task would take 71 hours.
“Citizens are basically denied the right to know what is going on in these agencies and institutions when they charge this much for a FOIA,” McKee said.
EMU’s College of Education website says, “Eastern Michigan University, the No. 1 producer of educators in the nation, received an ‘Exemplary’ grade from the Michigan Department of Education” in 2007.
EMU is also the only institution in Michigan with 23 Milken Award winners, which were called “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher Magazine.
NCTQ describes itself as, “A non-profit, nonpartisan research and policy group committed to restructuring the teaching profession, led by our vision that every child deserves effective teachers.”
Some EMU students said they would like to see their school in the review.
EMU student Samantha Meeker is in the special education program and also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, an honors organization for students in the teaching program. She said she is impressed with the teacher preparation at EMU.
“I love all my professors. We have a special education staff that knows their stuff, and teachers are very well prepared when they leave,” she said.
Meeker said she thinks it will be beneficial if EMU provides the documents because the university has such a good reputation for teaching.
Katelyne Dakin is also in the special education program and plans to start a student teaching position in the fall.
“I think they should hand them over, definitely,” she said. “If EMU has qualified professors and think their teachers are well prepared, they shouldn’t have a problem.”
Dakin also said she thinks there may be different reasons EMU is not turning over the documents.
“Maybe they want more money, and it’s a money-grab,” Dakin said. “Also, a lot of professors talk very highly about EMU’s educational program. Maybe they think their program is the best and don’t need to release the info.”
NCTQ’s official website, www.nctq.org, said if students send in desired materials, such as coursework and syllabi, they will pay $25-$200 stipends for the documents.
Some content regarding EMU’s College of Education will be available on the website when the review is released including how EMU selects teachers, the admission process for the College of Education and other information.
McKee was confident EMU would be in next year’s review.
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