JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A recently obtained memo shows that one of Gov. Eric Greitens’ acquaintances suggested systemic changes to Missouri’s education system prior to the Republican’s gubernatorial victory in 2016.
The “Freedom and Flexibility Agenda” written by Ken Zeff outlines numerous education reforms that Greitens could enact if he were elected governor, including expanding charter access, cutting regulations and increasing teacher pay, the Springfield News-Leader reported .
Zeff is an education leader in Georgia and a former charter school executive. He used to be a White House fellow alongside Greitens during President George W. Bush’s administration.
The memo was composed well before Greitens launched several appointments that led to the firing of the education commissioner. A draft of the memo obtained by the newspaper is dated Aug. 21, 2016.
Zeff again sent his ideas, along with his resume, after Greitens became governor, while a top governor’s aide began setting up a trip to Missouri for Zeff “to meet the team,” according to emails between Zeff and Greitens’ office. The newspaper obtained the emails through an open records request.
Zeff told the newspaper that Greitens reached out to him during his campaign “on key education policies because he knows that I have had leadership roles in large public school districts.” Zeff said he put together the memo as a discussion document of strategies “to improve outcomes for the students of Missouri,” and subsequently talked through some of those ideas with Greitens and his staff.
Greitens made his first three of 10 appointments to the Missouri Board of Education less than a week after meeting with Zeff on July 26.
Neither Zeff he nor Greitens’s spokesman, Parker Briden, addressed whether Zeff was ever in discussions with Greitens’ administration about becoming the state’s education commissioner. Zeff said he currently has no plans to change his career.
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com