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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Op/Ed -The fix is in - Michigan's Free Public Education System in is near EKG flat line status - unless Residents fight back

Photo Credit - Mother Jones

Independent Underground News/Talk Op/Ed

UPDATE: April 24, 2013 @ 6:00 PM ETThere's a PART 2 to this story here, and its' a MUST READ!!

Public education in Michigan is under attack. Yes, its easy to write this line. The facts leading to this conclusion are simple as instructions to make a delicious apple pie to follow, so let's start shall we.

On January 15th, 2013 Independent Underground News & Talk spoke with former President George W. Bush Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Diane Ravitch about the effort to privatize public education in Michigan by Lansing politicians.

Listen to this ground breaking interview below:

Yet even prior to our interview with Dr. Ravitch; blogger, writer for Paleo Radio and former co-host on ROJS Radio LIVE Autumn Smith broke a story regarding what's now known beginning of the "Project Skunk Works" plan.

The project besides being closely associated with the name of a smelly animal, was revealed to be a secret Republican plot cooked out of Lansing, Michigan to enact "low-value education vouchers" worth between $3000-$5000 into our K-12 education system. Never mind the fact Michigan voters in the year 2000 rejected evoking so-called education vouchers.

To be specific, "Project Skunk Works" seeks to enact an public - school voucher system in Michigan directly focused on shafting students from traditional free public schools into public traded, for-profit corporate charter institutions.

In this case, local control for electing members of a district school board would not exist, as the figure head in charge of this education "business" paid by public tax dollars, would be an appointed bureaucrat Chancellor answering directly and solely to Michigan's Republican Governor, Rick Snyder's behalf.  Yes, indeed this is a rancid smelling animal indeed.

From Steal This Government Blog by Autumn Smith:
"In short, what this legislation will do if passed, is it would create a separate statewide school district (Education Achievement Authority) that is overseen by a governor appointed chancellor that operates outside the authority of the State Board of Education. This also would mean that these schools are exempt from the same laws as other public schools. 

The EAA can also seize and force sale or lease unused school buildings to charter, EAA or other non-public schools.  This legislation also creates new forms of online and charter schools with no limit on the number of these schools that are created. Public schools would have to charter these schools if they chose to create them. This bill would further strain the funding and resources to public schools as it would create more schools that would need to be funded. Senate Bill 620 is known as 'The Parent Trigger Bill' and although the name of the bill sounds like it puts parents in control what it actually would do is allow the lowest achieving 5% of schools to become charter schools. 

This also would allow parents or teachers to petition for a reform model which in return, would end the local, community control of a school and would hand over taxpayer owned property and money to for-profit companies. It does nothing to address or develop community and parent involvement in local school districts."
Read more of Ms. Smith's story informing on the tea-leaves --or spider legs if you will--- of the now exposed "project skunk works" plot here.

More details "project skunk works"

Cue up The Free Press site were journalist Paul Egan connected the dots Ms. Smith started.

The news resource ties a staffer working for Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder ---who's paid a salary by tax payer revenue to exclusively work for the wills of State Residents--- instead using public resources "secretly craft" the corporate for - profit charter school voucher system takeover of Michigan's Public Schools. This all occurred during Governor Snyder's dubbed "Education Summit" in Lansing last week. The black and white animal, known as a skunk, smells down right malodorous at this point.

From the Detroit Free Press - April 22, 2013:
"The system for preparing students for the workplace — at both the state and national levels — is broken, Gov. Rick Snyder said in kicking off an education summit Monday.

Snyder made no reference in his opening remarks at the annual Governor’s Education Summit to a growing controversy over an education reform group headed by a top Snyder official.

But Snyder opened the summit amid a controversy over a work group that’s been meeting secretly and discussing development of a low-cost school plan that critics say smacks of a school voucher plan.

School vouchers — issued by the government and redeemable at private schools — are unconstitutional in Michigan, where they have been rejected by voters.

A group which is headed by Snyder’s Chief Information Officer David Behen has been meeting using the moniker “skunk works” and communicating using private e-mail accounts, the Detroit News reported Friday after obtaining meeting minutes and other records.

A goal of the advisory group is to create a “value school” through enhanced use of classroom technology that would result in a cost of about $5,000 per student, or about $2,000 less per pupil than the current per-pupil base rate, the newspaper reported."
Yes, Virginia or in this case Michigan residents, Governor Snyder along with his cohort of Corporate Republicans are conspiring to completely destroy the state's public education behind your back. Using communications equipment (computers) you paid for, discussing this "smelly skunk" on cell and land line phones which your tax dollars provided taxable revenue to operate, while ironically still receiving salary, per-diem expenses and cafeteria benefits paid via no other than YOU!

How does that make one feel? Not so good if as a Michigan Resident your preference for-profit corporations to teach the next generation of leaders of ethnics, morals and education standards while "cooking-up" a scheme, was nullified by the clear mandate vote in the year 2000 state-wide vowing "No public school vouchers in Michigan, ever"!

The Mackinaw Center for Public Policy Connection

Over on the West End of our State --where monetary gains in public-traded stock and bond securities portfolios in a "privatization game" take precedence over good public policy for Michiganders -- lives the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy. Do not allow the Michigan travel jewel destination of Mackinaw and the words "public policy" to confuse ones' mind when the heavy Republican presence associated with this organization to suggest "public policy" for the direct benefit of themselves doesn't exist; because it does.

Enter the document originally revealed by Dr. Ravitch on her blog located here, then discussed on Independent Underground News November 20, 2012, in the article "Breaking: Public Education is Under Attack in proposed Michigan School Finance Act of 2013".

What year is it now? 2013! Are the spider-legs connecting a bit?

From Independent Underground News & Talk - November 20, 2012:

"The "Michigan School Finance Act of 2013" was crafted by no other than the Founding Member and Secretary of the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, Attorney Richard D. McLellan, via the "so-called" non-profit Oxford Foundation. 
The policy "Oxford Foundation - Michigan" have been working on is called Michigan Public School Finance Act of 2013. Our readers at this moment are rightfully thinking, "Hey Independent Underground, its' not 2013 yet!" That's correct and frankly makes this white paper document on how Michigan should educate its' youth in the immediate future more frighting. 
The document -here for viewing- was written by Richard D. McLeallan - Secretary at the Mackinaw Center of Public Policy.
Derisively Atty. McLellan pins in the memorandum, Oxford Foundation - Michigan has received discussion support with writing the Public Schools Finance Act of 2013 by no other than the office of Michigan Department of Education office, Superintendent of Education Michael Flanagan. Mr. Flanagan was appointed by the State Board of Education under the administration of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) May 18, 2005.
From the Oxford Foundation - Michigan, November 5, 2012 Memorandum: 
"Mike Flanagan has been generous is making his staff available to discuss the concepts we are considering. Their technical knowledge is vital to assuring that what we propose is consistent with federal law and regulations. (They, of course, reserve the right to make their own conclusions regarding the wisdom of the proposals.)"
We know what our Independent Underground News very smart readers are thinking right now.... "but IU News, isn't Michigan Department of Education office, Superintendent of Education Michael Flanagan a Democrat who was appointed a state former Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm?"

Well, yes and no. Mr. Flanagan indeed was given a contract to be the Superintendent of Education in Michigan until 2015 by former Governor Jennifer Granholm (D), yet according to a recent article on M-Live, if he's a Republican, Democrat or just bipartisanship motivated first, is a question we cannot answer here.

Here is how M-Live  Journalist Tim Martin describes Mr. Flanagan politico leanings, while affirming the State's Education Superintendent non-interest to pose a run for retiring Michigan Democratic U.S. Senator, Carl Levin's seat.

From M-Live -April 22, 2013 - 'Michigan schools chief Mike Flanagan at education summit: 'We know we're in this together':

"Flanagan has been able to work with both Democrats and Republicans during his tenure, and his independent streak was on display even recently when – “thinking out loud” – he briefly hinted he might be considering a run for U.S. Senate. 
Flanagan isn’t running for Senate, but he is stressing bipartisanship as the state moves forward with public education plans. He’s pushing for more early childhood education funding and other changes.
“We know we’re in this together,” Flanagan said at the Governor’s Education Summit on Monday, where the main theme was collaboration to better match up worker skills with employer needs.
It was also the theme of Gov. Rick Snyder's welcoming speech."
It appears "bi-partisanship" prevails over the Michigan's residents vote in the year 2000, strongly affirming a will to never see "For-Profit Charter Corporate Schools Vouchers" sniffing students out of the State's Free Public K-12 education system. According to the San Francisco Gate, Superintendent Flanagan now wants the "project skunk works" group "disbanded". Wonder why?

From the San Francisco Gate - April 22, 2013 - Schools chief: Work group should be disbanded:

"State Superintendent Mike Flanagan told The Detroit News Monday that he's pulling a Department of Education employee off the group. Flanagan says "perception is a problem" and officials should start over while trying to "assure transparency."
Michiganders, we have quite a mess on our hands. The open question is will we continue to ignore this "evil-smelling skunk" or confront it head on.

UPDATE: There's a PART 2 to this story here, and its' a MUST READ!!

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