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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  • by Elaine Location: Location on Apr 30, 2013 at 05:11 AM
    I don't believe for a minute they are trying to better education by meeting secretly and on their own time. Most of them probably send their kids to private schools anyway so all of this should be open to the public who send their kids to public schools. I have seen more and more cuts to education and we need to be upgrading the public schools. I don't have children in the school system anymore but would like to see a focus group of involved parents being tapped to find out what they think would help enchance the educational process in Michigan. Secret meetings is not the way to go. If you think I work for a school system; you are wrong, I work in healthcare which also needs an overhaul so the average person can get medical treatment.
  • by REN Location: Lansing on Apr 27, 2013 at 05:31 PM
    @Anonymous, the first paragraph indicates they meet on their own time. Business people spitball ideas after work hours all the time. Some meet in bars or coffee shops, some in homes. People with passion for an issue will meet when and where they can. It should be common, not surprising when concerned citizens join together to create solutions. It may be rare, but not unheard of for a government employee to use his spare time to work on issues of public interest or concern. I appreciate their efforts and hope they are successful providing valid plans for the governor to examine and reduce costs.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 26, 2013 at 08:52 AM
    REN so they really met on their own time? After work hours? I bet NOT! So it was on our tax money since some were government employees. One being Snyder's assistant.
  • by REN Location: Lansing on Apr 26, 2013 at 04:37 AM
    The headline should read "Snyder to consider “think tank” ideas to reduce education costs". I believe "Skunk Works" should be applauded for meeting on their OWN time and expense to create ideas. Much can be done BEFORE involving Governor approval. I also think reductions should be refunded to the taxpayers instead of spending more on sports...Additionally, ALL plans should be openly vetted for possible/probable repercussions before approval.
  • by Dan Location: Dewitt on Apr 24, 2013 at 07:30 AM
    Homeschool and be done with the public school system AKA babysitter.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 23, 2013 at 07:54 AM
    Kelly, where does it say unions in the article? Michigan Association of School Administrators is not a union like the MEA or AFT. This was a Detroit News article not started by a union. The Detroit News is the most conservative paper in the state and they are looking into this issue. Makes you wonder.
  • by Name Location: Location on Apr 23, 2013 at 05:26 AM
    If the parents know their children deserve better, then why aren't they raising them better? Or interacting with them at all? Or doing anything remotely resembling parenting? A teacher can't raise everyone's kids for them.
  • by Kelly Location: Jackson on Apr 22, 2013 at 04:18 PM
    Oh, the humanity. A group of people exchanging ideas about how to improve public education, and discussing how to get more for the money being spent by taxpayers. Leave it to union people to think it's a bad idea. Probably because they know their days of the status quo are coming to an end. Parents are finally realizing that their children deserve better and are beginning to demand better.
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