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Destory public ed as we know it? "That's accurate."

“Critics often say ‘the governor is trying to destroy public education as we know it,’ [Lansing attorney Richard] McLellan said. ‘That’s accurate.’”

Well, there it is. Doesn’t get much more “straight from the horse’s mouth” than coming from Lansing attorney and longtime political operative Richard McLellan. As a leader of the obscure Oxford Foundation, Mr. McLellan led the effort to devise a radically altered way of funding K-12 education. (The quote is from a Reuters article by Stephanie Simon that discusses similar proposals in Michigan and a few other states: Classes a la carte: States test a new school model.)

McLellan also drafted the bill dramatically expanding the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), which has been the subject of contentious debates in the Legislature. (The proposal was introduced identically in both chambers: HB 6004 and SB 1358.)

He drafted yet another piece of legislation, a bill that would create many new kinds of charter schools (HB 5623). In fact, all three proposals were designed as a package – which was clear because they referred to each other in the versions first introduced. McLellan has had a busy year.

This is not his first foray into educational policy. After serving as a close adviser to former Gov. John Engler, McLellan helped spearhead the 2000 effort to change the state constitution so it would allow school vouchers that could be used to attend private schools. That effort was soundly defeated by the voters.

It’s not as though McLellan is alone in this effort; far from it. According to interviews done by MIRS News Service, McLellan was brought into the effort after billionaire philanthropist and avid education “reformer” Eli Broad (who is also a Detroit native) offered to “help” Detroit schools:

At the time, California billionaire Eli Broad, who’s a graduate of Detroit Public Schools and Michigan State University, was asked to advise Snyder on how to help Motown schools. McLellan was asked to provide a Michigan legal and political roadmap to Broad.

Gov. Snyder’s office, naturally, wishes McLellan had chosen his words differently. According to the article, a spokesman said the Governor wants to “enhance” rather than destroy public education. It seems that the Governor’s definition of “enhance” is rather different from ours.

The first piece of this package is the EAA legislation currently being debated in the state House and Senate. To learn more, visit our home page to find action alerts and other information: http://mipfs.org The second piece, new forms of charters, was introduced this session but appears now to be on hold until next year. Finally, the major school aid restructuring proposal is expected to be part of Gov. Snyder’s FY 2013-14 budget proposal, usually unveiled in mid-February. Stay tuned!

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