Corporatism, Education, Privatization, Rick Snyder — May 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

VIDEO: Progress Michigan goes after ‘skunk works’ group working to commoditize/profitize Michigan public schools


Ooo-ooo, that smell…

Last month, after the Detroit News tore back the curtains on the secretive “skunk works” group, staffed by some of Gov. Snyder’s aides and aimed at destroying our public school system while funneling the proceeds to for-profit charter schools, the group was quickly reconfigured to be one that was more, shall we say, public? The Governor’s staffer was replaced with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan who vowed any discussion of vouchers and the like would be “off the table”.

My pals at Progress Michigan endeavored to learn more about the group with a Freedom of Information Act request but were, in part, denied because “the Basecamp server that housed ‘Skunk Works’ discussions and files was shut down following the revelation of the group’s existence, making several files unavailable.”

They did receive some documents however.

The documents made it clear that the workgroup planned to implement their scheme as quickly as possible. One presentation (pg. 250) included a plan for a new legal authority to “remove regulatory barriers,” and indicated their new schools would require a request for an extra $4 million in funding. {…}

The documents also included a February 28 email indicating that Richard McLellan had collaborated with Michigan Virtual University (pg. 161), despite subsequent comments to the media from Snyder’s chief information officer David Behen that teachers had been intentionally excluded from the process.

McLellan also used the “Skunk Works” email listserv to criticize MSU President Lou Anna Simon, explaining he asked her to identify academics “primarily…from outside the College of Education” to contribute to the workgroup. He noted that she responded by sharing his request with the College of Education and “lecturing” him for “about 45 minutes… (if you know her, that is not unusual).”

Read more about the results of their FOIA request HERE.

Progress Michigan has now released a new video that gives a quick overview of what this super secret stinky group was up to.