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Michigan Group Working Behind the Scenes on Voucher-Like Model?

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A group of about twenty individuals in Michigan are secretly working to create a low-cost, voucher-like school model for K-12 students in the state, according to a story by the Detroit News.

The work group, which the article says includes top aides to the state's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, aims to create schools that costs around $5,000 per student to operate. Each student at one of these schools would receive a "Michigan Education Card" to pay for their tuition. Leftover money could be used for other educational opportunities such as athletics, music lessons, or remedial courses, the article says.

The group, which is headed up by Gov. Snyder's chief information officer David Behen, consists mainly of individuals from the information-technology field. The group originally included one educator—Paul Galbenski, who was Michigan's 2011 Educator of the Year—who later left after concerns that the group was moving to create an education model outside of the public school system.

According to meeting minutes and reports obtained by the Detroit News, the group is exploring partnerships with at least one community college in order to apply cost-saving techniques from the private sector to public education. The group is also exploring using more online instruction and less teachers in order to provide a lower cost of education.

The meetings started in December, and while Gov. Snyder acknowledged the existence of the group, it has not had a chance to present its findings in a formal manner to the governor, says the article.

Gov. Snyder responded to questions about the secret group in a video posted by the Detroit Free Press, saying that he had little knowledge of the group but did not want to discourage members of his team from getting together on their own to discuss innovative ideas.

In Michigan, school vouchers are explicitly prohibited under the state's constitution, which does not allow public dollars to flow into private schools.

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