Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Five Questions You Should Ask about Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy Devos – Cloaking Inequity

Five Questions You Should Ask about Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy Devos – Cloaking Inequity:

Five Questions You Should Ask about Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy Devos


The election of Donald Trump, and his subsequent nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, may turn the tide in favor of private control of public education. The President-elect promised during his campaign that his administration will spend billions on market-based school choice in the first 100 days. If these funds are taken from federal Title I dollars, Trump, during his first year as President, could cripple the public education system as we know it today.
The debate about market-based approaches to education has become more contentious in recent years as their use has accelerated. Over the years political oldheads have told me in private conversations that decades ago charter schools were a compromise in many state legislatures to ward off the neoliberals’ pursuit of vouchers. This grand bargain was apparently made in Florida, California, Texas and many other states. However, charters have not satiated school privatization proponents. A doubling of the number of charters and $3.3 billion in federal dollars spent by the Obama Administration on charters over the past several years hasn’t been enough.
In fact, it has become readily apparent that charter schools were just the beginning, as we move toward private control of public schools and other forms of market-based choice, especially school vouchers. Evidence from the worldwide Global Education Reform Movement suggests neoliberals and religious ideologues will continue to force school choice until churches and corporations get public tax dollars to run schools. Trump’s nomination of DeVos is consistent with this ideological pressure for privatization.
Consider the following questions:
1. Is Betsy DeVos qualified for Secretary of Education?
Betsy DeVos is arguably the most unqualified person nominated for Education Secretary in the history of the United States. As someone who has worked in graduate school admissions and has hired professors and staff over the years, I can say with all honesty her resume likely wouldn’t get a second look for a leadership position in a school district or university. She has never been a classroom teacher. She has never attended a public school. Her children have never attended a public school. DeVos has about the same level of qualification for Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, or Attorney General. Essentially, she has no qualification other than neoliberal and religious ideology. Charles Pierce summed up Trump’s cabinet appointments on MSNBC recently as: “people who are really inexperienced, billionaires, people with crazy ideas or really inexperienced billionaires with crazy ideas.”
2. What is Betsy DeVos’s ideology? 
Betsy DeVos has been affiliated with a variety of neoliberal education “reform” organizations advocating for market-based school choice such as the Alliance for School Choice, Great Lakes Education Project, Foundation for Educational Excellence and the American Federation of Children Five Questions You Should Ask about Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy Devos – Cloaking Inequity:


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