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DR. JOHN WILLIAM COVINGTON
Chancellor Education Achievement Authority of Michigan
PASSION FOR EDUCATION
By Melody Moore
Dr. John William Covington, chancellor of the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA), is committed to assuring
that all students receive a quality education. "We must change the paradigm of how we deliver educational programs to students," said Covington. "We believe that low student achievement – not only in the persistently lowest achieving schools in Detroit but around the country – is primarily because our country maintains a system of public schools that we should have abandoned long ago." Covington said the traditional "one-size-fits-all" format does not meet the needs of individual students and does not meet the educational challenges that must be addressed.
"In the EAA students do not progress through school based on the amount of time that they sit in a seat, but rather based on the mastery of skills that they need to move to the next level," he said. "If we have a child that can get it done in six months, they immediately move to the next instructional level. But, if that child needs 12 months, then they can take that time before they move to the next instructional level."
Global competition is also a key focus for Covington, who says, "If we say we want our children to compete with our international counterparts, one mechanism is to assure they are educated for the same amount of time. That is why we increased our school days from Michigan's traditional 170 days to 210."
Covington, a native of Alabama, has three siblings and grew up in poverty, but his saving grace, he said, was having a parent who believed in education. "I have wanted to be a teacher since eighth grade," he said. "When I graduated from college it took me six years to break into the education system but I knew I eventually would become a teacher. While I was waiting for a teaching job, I took a job as a prison guard, which gave me an opportunity to see up close how our educational system was failing so many young men with enormous potential."
Covington holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, AA Certification (for administrative leadership) and Education Specialist (EdS) degrees from Troy University. He also holds a second AA Certification and Ed.D degree from Auburn University. This year Covington completed a second doctoral degree – a Ph.D in transformational leadership and urban policy at the University of Missouri.
Prior to being appointed chancellor of the new EAA system of schools in 2011, Covington worked to reform educational systems in Alabama, Colorado and Kansas City, Missouri. In Kansas City, Covington instituted major reforms that not only kept the district from bankruptcy; it posted a balanced budget while increasing student performance on state exams by the largest rate in state history.
Earlier he achieved similar results in Alabama, where he transformed the Lowndes County Public Schools to assure that every school in the district met the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Covington has passed his love of education on to his children, Melvin, David and Simone. The married father of three has two children who work in education. His wife Wilanie is also a principal. David and his wife Marie have given Covington two granddaughters, Hunter and Hayden.
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