According to the Detroit News, our Governor’s secret education privatization task force, nicknamed the Skunk Works, was just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, in spite of Snyder’s pledge to bring unprecedented transparency to Lansing, a great deal of the legislation coming out of the Capital these days seems to be the product of corporate donors contributing through secret work groups. I think Royal Oak Education Association President Sidney Kardon summed it up nicely today in his Detroit News editorial, when he said, “Michigan is no longer functioning as a democracy. It is a corporate oligarchy in which aides and friends of the governor create policy in secretive groups.” Now, the big question is, what are we going to do about it?
Here’s Kardon’s editorial in its entirety.
Vouchers for students, under the deceptive guise of education reform are all but a done deal given the behind-the-scenes machinations of Gov. Rick Snyder and his staff.
The impetus for vouchers is coming from the Oxford Foundation, a private group that is run by two of Snyder’s top aides, Rod Davenport and David Behen.
Other Snyder appointees have been involved in a secret group calling themselves a “skunk works” group which supports the educational ideology of the Oxford Foundation, which is the ability for students to take their state funding to other communities and private vendors.
The group’s been using public funds to advance their corporate agenda in the form of using the state employee e-mail system during work hours, a minor blip in the overarching conversion of public tax dollars to corporate coffers. After the presence of the group became public via The Detroit News, State Superintendent of Education Mike Flanagan scrambled to quickly announce the formation of a public group to assess and improve Michigan’s public education system.
Snyder, in acknowledging the existence of a shadow government, stated that the group’s work has “no specific objective.”
But Snyder’s penchant for lying is well known. Right up to the final moments prior to passage of anti-union right-to-work legislation, he had ensured union leaders that he would not sign the bill into law. Earlier in his tenure he had publicly proclaimed that he had no interest in right to work, as he felt it was unnecessary and divisive. Snyder is lying again. Slowly dismantling public education for private gain is part and parcel of the Republican Party’s self-serving corporate agenda.
The voucher program works by cheapening the quality of education in profit-making charters by the use of video conferences to teach students. This means the charter can hire fewer teachers since students would learn via long distance video conferences. The excess money produced will be ‘given’ to students to spend in any educational venue of their choice which would include vendors such as corporate cyber schools. K12, a prominent corporate cyber school is hugely profitable and hugely irresponsible to its students.
Private corporations serve stockholders, not students.
Michigan is no longer functioning as a democracy. It is a corporate oligarchy in which aides and friends of the governor create policy in secretive groups.
The Republican Legislature is always happy to advance the corporate agenda, to the detriment of our students, public schools, and communities.
How long will Michiganians tolerate the assault on community schools to turn a profit? Snyder and his cabal of aides do not care about our kids, our communities, or our democracy. They only care about their profits. Phrases like “education reform” and the assault on unions were only stepping stones to the real right wing objective: Ensuring that you and your kids are profitable to companies.
And one last thing, as long as we’re talking about transparency… a little something humorous, to cheer you up in the face of corporate oligarchy.