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Michigan Could Disband State-Run District for Low-Performing Schools

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder tells the Detroit News that he'd be willing to dissolve his Education Achievement Authority if state lawmakers are willing to approve his newest plan to overhaul public education in Detroit.

The Republican governor set up the authority three years ago to try to turn around the state's lowest-performing schools. All 15 EAA schools are in Detroit, but are separate from the rest of the city's school system, which is also under state control.

Snyder's comments are not the first signal that he would abandon the controversial school reform effort, which has become engulfed in controversy amid a federal corruption probe.

Questions also linger about the quality of authority schools and their appeal to parents. Enrollment is declining and the efforts have done little to improve poor student test scores.

The News reports that Snyder has hinted for months that the achievement authority's status has been under review while lawmakers consider his $715 million proposal to create a new debt-free Detroit school district.

Snyder continues to lobby for the legislation to overhaul public education throughout Detroit, including the city's regular public schools, all charter schools in the city, and the state-run schools operated by the EAA. But the plan has lingered without action for months while Snyder's staff continues private discussions with lawmakers about returning the achievement authority schools to Detroit, the News reports.

Disbanding the achievement authority may help him garner the support he needs.

For years, Democrats have called for the achievement authority schools to be returned to the Detroit district. A growing number of Republican legislators want to disband the achievement authority as well, in large part because of the FBI corruption probe that has led to federal grand jury indictments of former EAA employees.

Michigan is among a number of states that have formed state-level authorities to manage their most troubled schools. The progress of those ventures is being closely watched by policymakers nationwide.

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