In Michigan one of the first instances of school choice came in the 1970’s when Jack Hoekstra, president of the Kalamazoo School Board, tried to stop desegregation through busing of Kalamazoo Public Schools by allowing parents to choose the school they wanted their kids to attend; with the condition they were responsible for transportation. School choice has been championed by others in the state over the years, but there is one name that has become synonymous with the Michigan education reform movement – Richard D. McLellan.
When Michigan drafted their charter school law, Richard D. McLellan was there. When Michigan tried to set up a voucher system in 2002 that failed, Richard D. McLellan was there. When EMU chancellors were approached about getting behind the EAA in 2011, Richard D. McLellan was there. Skunkworks? You bet, he was there too. Richard D. McLellan was part of the school choice movement in Michigan before it actually became a movement. How do we know? He took notes.
In 1990 before “school choice,” “education reform movement,” or “the civil rights movement of our time” uttered by conservatives like Rand Paul were common phrases, Richard D. McLellan jotted down a plan to fundamentally change Michigan’s schools. In this page of scribbled notes leaked around the time Brian Whiston was chosen as our new superintendent of education, 25 years ago McLellan already planned the demise of Michigan’s public schools.
The RDM in the upper right hand corner are his initials. The list of names seems to be associated with “Michigan Citizens for Choice.”
McLellan knew that the majority of Michigan citizens wouldn’t want public schools to be taken over by churches, so here he jots down a note that it’s important to mainstream the “school choice” message, and separate it from the nonpublic schools that most people were familiar with at the time – parochial schools.
Every school reformer from GLEP director/DeVos yes man Gary Naeyaert to presidential hopeful Rand Paul have been quoted saying that school choice is the “civil rights issue of our time.” 25 years ago you can see one of the goals of McLellan’s was to use the phrase “civil rights issue of the 90’s” to get blacks and Hispanics on board supporting it. School choice is a dog whistle for segregation.
Here’s another goal of McLellan’s to make sure that minorities not only get on board, but take leadership roles in supporting school choice. He also lists businesses and taxpayers as people who need to help with the cause.
It’s really hard to convince people they need to stop sending their kids to public schools if they think their public schools are doing a good job. 25 years ago Richard D. McLellan wrote down as part of his plan for promoting school choice was the need to discredit public schools. He also linked this goal to the goal of making sure less revenues went to Detroit. Now why would McLellan see that as a necessary goal for school choice?
“What’s In It For Me” is another way of getting people to support something by making them think what they have isn’t good enough. This “matrix” as McLellan calls it is a very common method used by politicians to push an agenda onto people.
And finally, the last goal of McLellan’s listed on this page is the importance of selling the idea that this is not a plan to switch public school for parochial schools, but an “education reform movement” that will appear on the outside as something to make public schools better, while you’re actually starving them of funds and dismantling them at the same time.
Here in Richard McLellan’s own chicken scratching is a plan that most of us today recognize as reality. 25 years ago Richard D. McLellan wrote down a list of goals to change Michigan’s public schools, not to better educate our kids, but to eradicate public education. This is what our new superintendent is up against, will he fight for our public schools? Or go along with McLellan’s plan he penned a quarter of a century ago.