press release


News from Progress Michigan

February 28, 2017

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574,

GLEP Director: ‘I wanted to shake her, like I like to shake my wife.”

Head of DeVos-backed org makes troubling comment regarding SRO official

LANSING — Today during a Senate Education Committee meeting, the head of the DeVos-backed, anti-public school group Great Lakes Education Project made a comment about how he wanted to “shake” the head of the state’s School Reform Office, Natasha Baker, like he does to his wife when she can’t decide what she wants for dinner.

The comment was made before a Republican-controlled Senate committee comprised entirely of men.

“I wanted to, you know, I wanted to shake her, like I like to shake my wife,” said Gary Naeyaert, executive director of GLEP when referencing his displeasure with the head of the state’s School Reform Office, Natasha Baker. 

Naeyaert and GLEP have enjoyed support from U.S. Education Secretary and right-wing billionaire, Betsy DeVos and her family and even have one of her top assistants on their governing board.

“The head of GLEP will likely say he was making a joke, but in what world is domestic violence funny? He was addressing a committee in the Michigan Senate, but he seemed to think he was with Billy Bush on the Access Hollywood bus,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Naeyaert should apologize for his comments and explain why he thought invoking images of domestic violence was relevant in a discussion about education. Also, making decisions about school closures, which will affect students and neighborhoods for years to come, is not the same as deciding which chain restaurant you want to eat at for dinner.”

Republicans have controlled education policy in this state since 2011 and they’ve taken piles of cash from the DeVos family and GLEP the entire time,” Scott continued. “Maybe Naeyaert should take some time for reflection on this incident and how his organization has contributed to struggling schools in the state.”

The video can be viewed here.


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