Snyder Administration Criticized Over "Secret Education Group"

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email

The team, self titled the "skunk works" project was started by the state's Chief Information Officer David Behen and includes members from private and public sectors. They typically meet during non-business hours and communicate using private email accounts. The Detroit News reports that their goal is to create value schools that operate at less cost.

"I haven't directly met with them so I can only tell you a limited amount but shouldn't we encourage people to always be out there to try and come up with new ideas and talk about things," said Gov. Snyder.

However, the Michigan Association of School Administrators says it's wrong work that focuses on price tag and not quality of education. Sen Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield, calls their secret meetings and private emails ethically questionable.

A spokesperson for the group says there's nothing secretive about the meetings. The goal is simply to find better ways of infusing technology into classroom teaching.

"When you don't have people from the same walks of life, you meet after work and you meet on weekends and you use different collaboration tools other than the ones we have here in state government," said Kurt Weiss, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Weiss denies claims that the group wants to form a voucher-like plan for Michigan's education system and says the focus is on improving technology, where the by-product could be lesser cost.

"I wouldn't describe it as taking dollars away from public education, I view it as if we had better ways to do things couldn't we use those dollars to do more cultural programs, arts programs, sports programs, enhance educational learning in some fashion," said Gov. Snyder.

Originally, the group wanted to present their ideas to Gov. Snyder at Monday's Governor's Education Summit in East Lansing, but probably won't have anything ready for a few more months.


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