Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
Just as he promised in his 2016 State of the State Address, Governor Rick “Big Government” Snyder continues to expand the state bureaucracy by establishing more needless, redundant commissions. Snyder’s latest creation, the Michigan PreK-12 Literacy Commission, will “provide policy recommendations and reports on the state’s progress in becoming a national leader in literacy.” Snyder issued Executive Order 2016-18 last week, creating the 13-member commission. In the coming days, Snyder will directly appoint a majority of its members, who will serve at his pleasure.
In March, Snyder created the curiously similar Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission pursuant to Executive Order 2016-6. Of the 21 voting members on this commission, 16 are appointed directly by Snyder and serve at his pleasure. According to a press release issued by the Governor’s office, the 21st Century Education Commission is “responsible for analyzing top performing education systems in the nation, identifying issues impacting Michigan’s academic success, and recommending changes to restructure Michigan’s education system.” Wouldn’t these “issues” include literacy?
It sounds like there will be a significant degree of overlap between the roles of the two commissions. And given the vague, broad, open-ended language of the executive orders, it is almost impossible to tell what the commissions will actually do.
What’s more, consider this: The constitutionally established State Board of Education has plenary authority over the supervision and direction of K-12 public instruction throughout Michigan, and serves as the “planning and coordinating body for all public education, including higher education.” This naturally includes reading and literacy programs, don’t you think?
Why has Snyder been so eager to create these new commissions when there is already an existing constitutional body charged with performing the very same functions? The answer is really quite simple. As he has demonstrated with his past executive orders on a variety of matters (can you say State School Reform/Redesign Office?), Snyder is all too interested in stripping authority from the Department of Education, emasculating the Democratic-controlled State Board of Education, and consolidating power in his own hands.
How will the Michigan PreK-12 Literacy Commission differ from the Governor’s 21st Century Education Commission? And how will the duties of these two commissions differ from the constitutionally enumerated powers and functions of the State Board of Education? I’d sure like to know. So far, however, no one from the Governor’s office has bothered to answer these questions for me or anyone else.
Snyder loves to talk about streamlining state government. But his obsessive commission craze proves the premise of the old adage: Actions really do speak louder than words.