It was just a little over one week ago when we got the news here in Michigan that Gov. Snyder’s prized Education Achievement Authority, which has been created for the sole purpose of establishing a workable model demonstrating how to destroy the nation’s public education system – and the unions along with it – was apparently found guilty of telling a few lies to get some money from the federal government. Once those lies were discovered, the EAA didn’t get the money they were planning on, which put them in the hole for millions of dollars. So what did they do? They took out a ‘loan’ from Detroit Public Schools to cover for that shortfall in funds, but they took out the loan without telling the Detroit Public School Board or even the board for the EAA. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who is a full-blown supporter of the EAA regardless of, well, anything, said that he isn’t particularly troubled by any of this. Why President Obama wants this man representing him in the fight to improve our schools I will never, ever understand. Arne Duncan is a bagman for corporate interests trying to privatize public education, and as someone who received as much support from unions as he did, I would hope that the President would be bothered by this even if his Cabinet appointee is not.
Anyway, that’s the short version. For the full length version you can go here to the story as it was reported in the Detroit News. Here’s the part I find particularly interesting:
Education Achievement Authority officials overstated their authority to take over failing schools across Michigan in a bid to win a $35.4 million federal grant — six weeks before they began operating in September.
The application to the U.S. Department of Education for a five-year teacher merit pay program claimed the reform district with 15 Detroit schools had legislative permission to grow to 60 schools in 10 urban districts by 2017, which it doesn’t.
The grant application took liberties with other facts, claiming to be an IRS-authorized charitable organization and that EAA Chancellor John Covington “has been given the mandate and authority to take control of persistently poor performing schools throughout Michigan” — an issue still being debated in the Legislature.
EAA spokesman Bob Berg said the inaccuracies were “screw-ups” in a hastily written application submitted in late July and approved in October.
It is one of several missteps by the school reform agency discovered by The Detroit News in records made public through a Freedom of Information Act request. The errors show an agency that initially was in chaos. And revelations of its problems have slowed an effort to expand the authority to include other poorly performing schools in Michigan. The House narrowly passed EAA expansion legislation, but it is in limbo in the Senate because Education Committee chairman Phil Pavlov opposes some provisions.
OK, so there’s that. But then fast forward to this week’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference, where all of Michigan’s high and mighty power brokers get together every year to do what high and mighty power brokers normally do when they get together all in one spot; they pile it on higher and deeper. But occasionally something notable happens, and this year something did; a private foundation (The Michigan Education Achievement Foundation set up by none other than Snyder himself) made the announcement that they have raised close to $60 million to help Gov. Snyder perpetuate his elaborate fraud against the citizens of Michigan by financially supporting his effort to steal the public school system from them via the EAA just as he stole their voting rights under cover of darkness last December during a lame duck session and overruled the people’s vote to dismantle the Emergency Manager Law.
But Snyder’s little foundation wasn’t the only group coming to throw oil on the fire consuming public education. From MLive:
Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, run by the noted philanthropists who both graduated from Detroit Public Schools, have each pledged $10 million in the form of challenge grants.
The stated goal of Snyder is to raise $100 million to achieve his goal. I, for one, find it interesting that the announcement of all this money pouring in to assist Snyder’s broad daylight theft of public education came within a week after the Detroit News ran its story. Looks kinda like somebody got scared that the truth was starting to leak out so they’re trying to put it out with money.
But then that would be wrong.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.