Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents will continue with the interlocal agreement with the Education Achievement Authority after a resolution to withdraw was shot down at the Regents' meeting in Welch Hall Friday.
The Regents approved an amendment to that resolution that stated the Regents should continue participation in the interlocal agreement with the EAA unless considerable improvement is not seen in the next year in a 6-2 vote.
"The Board of Regents [will] give notice in December 2015 of its intention to withdraw its participation in the interlocal agreement effective June 2016 unless meaningful progress is made in the EAA as outlined," the resolution states.
The resolution outlines the following improvements:
- Stronger partnership between EMU and the EAA
- Demonstrated student achievement and progress in EAA schools
- Fiscal accountability
- Transparency of all activity, including prompt and appropriate responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act
Regent Jim Stapleton said in an official statement that Friday's decision to continue EMU's affiliation with the EAA was the most difficult he has made.
"Everything about the EAA since it was announced has been disappointing," he said. "I am disappointed promises were made about our level of participation that, to date, have not been kept."
The dissenting votes came from Chair Francine Parker, the author of the original resolution to withdraw from the interlocal agreement, and Regent Floyd Clack.
“I tried,” Parker said. “I don’t feel good about this right now. This is a great university, they just need to get their priorities in order.”
Clack could not be reached for comment.
The decision to continue with the interlocal agreement was met with considerable protest, with some students laying on the ground and chanting “Black lives matter, the EAA is killing them.”
Many of the student protesters at the meeting on Friday are members of the student group Students for an Ethical and Participatory Education. SEPE has been protesting EMU's affiliation with the EAA for two years.
“The reason why we chanted was to show the connection between corporate education reform and police brutality, which happens disproportionally to African Africans,” said Will Daniels, a graduate student and SEPE member. “Structural racism and classism subjects black children to inadequate privatized schools that have no public oversight."
“There was a lot of disappointment in the room,” Provost Kim Schatzel said. “I have heard staff and faculty speak out about ending ties with the EAA and today we couldn’t do so.”
President Susan Martin recommended that the Regents vote to sever ties with the EAA earlier in the meeting.
“Obviously I’m disappointed, but I certainly respect the board’s decision,” Martin said.
Mayor Pro-Tem of Ypsilanti Lois Richardson was happy that Martin spoke out against the EAA at Friday’s meeting.
“I am very proud of President Susan Martin recommending to withdraw from the EAA...The rest of the regents should feel ashamed for not supporting the president they selected.” Richardson said.
Student Government President Desmond Miller was also disappointed by the Regents’ decision to continue working with the EAA.
“I am very surprised that the Regents decided to ignore faculty, staff and more importantly the students that I represent and [the Regents] did not act on their behalf at all,” he said. “Ignoring students is not okay with me … get ready for a fight.”
Student Government recently approved a resolution urging the Regents to sever ties with the EAA.
On Thursday, the EMU faculty senate also approved a resolution encouraging the Regents to terminate the interlocal agreement with the EAA.
“It was astonishing to me that anybody sitting in that room listening to what was brought forward by [the speakers] could vote the way they did … virtually every constituency at the university has stated their objections to the relationship with the EAA, and it has had no effect,” said Sandy Norton, president of the EMU faculty senate. “The College of Education is being destroyed.”
News Editor Curt Allain contributed to this report.