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2018 West Michigan Policy Forum Conference seeks to develop a strategy to further undermine public education and labor unions

August 28, 2018

We are only one month away from the 2018 gathering of the state’s most powerful people, at what is called the West Michigan Policy Forum Conference.

On September 24th, the West Michigan Policy Forum will hold its bi-annual conference to determine and work on policy that benefits the interests of the state’s capitalist class. According to the promotional narrative for the conference, the West Michigan Policy Forum states that it will, “set an aggressive 2018-19 state policy agenda to keep Michigan moving in the right direction.” 

The focus for this year’s conference will be on workforce development and talent development. Both of these terms are simply code for how to transform educational systems in to creating obedient workers that will benefit the business community.

The current Chairman of the West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF), John Kennedy (also CEO of Autocam), recently wrote an op-ed for the Detroit News about the upcoming WMPF. In that op-ed, Kennedy writes:

“As business leaders, it’s our responsibility to help Michigan keep its position as a welcoming home for both companies and employees. We need to ensure that our children have access to excellent education and that our families have the quality of life they deserve.”

However, we have heard these claims before. In that same op-ed, Kennedy makes it clear what happens at these conferences and what they have achieved in the past 10 years – killing the Michigan Business Tax, the personal property tax, making Michigan a Right to Work State and pushing through legislation to take away pensions for teachers and other workers in the public sector.

The conference this year, like all previous gatherings, is to create an agenda for how to change state policy. Look at the line up of speakers that the 2018 conference will feature: 

  • Tawni Hunt Ferrarini – The Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise at Lindenwood University on Understanding our State’s Fiscal Health
  • Tony Seba, Stanford University
  • Doug DeVos – Re-think” Talent and Education
  • Arthur Brooks, American Enterprise Institute on Back to Work” – Moving People Back to Work: Why Work Matters
  • Dr. Edward Montgomery, Western Michigan University on Michigan Investment vs. Results in K-12 Education
  • John Kennedy, CEO Autocam Medical on Increasing Michigan’s Prepared Workforce of the Future
  • Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida on Florida’s Education Story: A-F Policy for School Buildings
  • Dr. Steven Perry – An avid promoter of charter schools, Dr. Perry has been criticized for his aggressive anti-teachers union stance. And last year, the educator was accused of perpetuating “respectability politics” for suggesting dreadlocks and afros did not promote an “aesthetics to success.”

For those who care about public education and labor unions, the strategies that this conference will be developing are vitally important to us to understand. Not only is it vital for us to understand what the business class is up to when it comes to education and labor, we need to resist it and make sure that their plans are defeated.

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