Wow—a huge thanks to everyone who chipped in and made my *send EduShyster to the Mitten State* fundraising campaign such a success. In seven days, I raised $5,000 from 100 donors. Make that $5,025 from 101 donors. And while I did get a few three figure gifts (thanks Dad!), most of my contributions were small—$10 here, $18 there—from readers who want to know more about a would-be Secretary of Education and what the hell is going on in Michigan. So in just over three weeks, I’ll be hitting the road. Here’s where I’m headed, who I’ll be talking to and what I’m up to…
First stop: Detroit
Here’s a question for you: do you know how many charter schools in Detroit’s rapidly expanding and radically unregulated charter sector provide bus service? No idea? Don’t feel bad. Turns out nobody knows the answer to this question. Which is one way of conveying the scale of Detroit’s wild West-ish-ness. I’ll be talking to parents about how they navigate this system, and recording their stories to share in a podcast. I’ll have some help from the amazing organizers at 482Forward, a group that’s been pushing back against Detroit’s voicelessness over its own schools, or as they like to say *nothing about us without us.*
Sick out city
Remember those teacher *sick out* protests last year that, at least for a brief moment, got everybody talking about the deplorable conditions of Detroit’s schools? I decided that I’d like to meet some of the teachers who led the protests because, well, I have serious admiration for them. And I’m hoping that they can fill me in on the new punishments (thanks Betsy and Dick DeVos!) aimed at teachers like them who speak out against the, um, less attractive side effects of Michigan’s experiment with free market education.
Meeting up with a personal shero
One of the very best part of an *edventure* is that I get the opportunity to hang with some of my fave virtual pals. Like Nancy Flanagan, authoress of the outstanding EdWeek column Teacher in a Strange Land, for which she produces gems like her latest: *Terminal Charterism: the View from Michigan.* Which brings me to an important point. My purpose in traveling to Michigan is not to uncover an unknown story but to share what experts in Michigan’s long and DeVos-led unwinding of public education know all too well.
Heading west, and back to the 30’s
If you read my piece about Betsy DeVos’ long game, then you know that geography is an important part of the Michigan story. The western part of the state from which the DeVos and Prince families have long ruled, looks just a little different from Detroit. To help me understand these powerful families and their vision, honed over generations, I’m enlisting the help of historian Russ Bellant. He has spent years steeped in DeVosiana, tracing, among other things, the role of both families in the creepy, secretive Council for National Policy. In other words, I can’t wait to meet him…
Talking to anyone who will talk to me
When I go on a big edventure like this, I make a point of reaching out to absolutely anyone I can think of who might be willing to talk to me. I mean it. Anyone… I’ve found that with a few notable exceptions, even the reformiest reformers are interested in meeting me. So my trip to Michigan will include conversations with charter advocates, lobbyists, even some DeVos allies. Sorry—no names. I don’t want to jinx anything!
Trying to bend the space/time continuum
Say you were planning to be in Holland, Michigan, home to the powerful Prince family, from whence Betsy DeVos sprung, on a self-guided tour of the intersection of right-wing politics, religious extremism and Dutch Reform boot-strap-ism. But then you get invited to participate in a large-scale policy simulation in which 150 University of Michigan grad students consider options for charter school authorizer reform in Michigan. You realize that you have become the sort of person whom this invitation excites greatly, and that you can most definitely do both things if only you could figure out how to move Holland and Ann Arbor closer together…
Thanks to everyone who donated to my cause! And if you have suggestions for people I should talk to in Michigan, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.