“Shared sacrifice?” Not for everyone.

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The Education Achievement Authority last Friday named John Covington chancellor of a new statewide district composed of the lowest 5 percent of Michigan schools, many of which are located in Detroit. The Free Press today reported on his hiring but said nothing of the circumstances of his departure from Kansas City. 

Covington leaves a legacy of disarray; he spent just two years at the helm of Kansas City’s schools, and after he bolted in the second week of classes as the district awaits an accreditation decision from the state, Michiganders should wonder how long he will really remain here. In Kansas City, he presided over an era of mass teacher-replacement, financial restructuring, and dismal test scores that he called a “low water mark” for the district. This stands in stark contrast to his “record of achievement” Gov. Snyder and the state board have lauded. 

As a reward for coming to Michigan, Covington will receive a salary of $225,000 in the first year, with a $175,000 signing bonus. His base salary will increase to $325,000 in his second year on the job, and if he meets goals that have not yet been determined, he’ll make more than $425,000 in each of the next two years. His contract is effective Thursday, but it is unknown when he’ll actually start, since his resignation in Kansas City is not effective until September 23. 

When the state House passed its education budget, Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) claimed “there is no correlation between the amount of money that we spend and student achievement.” If this is true, then why is it necessary for taxpayers to spend an extra $1.5 million over four years, including an $800/month car allowance, on bringing to Michigan an administrator who has produced questionable results in other districts? Gov. Snyder talks about finding innovative solutions to our state’s problems and implementing “value for money” government, but it is unclear how these innovative solutions require spending seven figures on one administrator. 

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