The Betsy DeVos Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy
Who are the real grizzlies?
WASHINGTON, D.C.—It was not a hearing. It was the mere burlesque of a hearing, rendered meaningless by a preposterously accelerated process that rendered all questioning perfunctory and that left all cheap evasions hanging in the air of the committee room the way cigarette smoke used to canopy the proceedings back in the day. You would not hire a gardener through the process by which Betsy DeVos likely is going to become the Secretary of Education. A public school system wouldn't hire her to work the cafeteria line at lunch. It was appalling. It was unnerving. It was a grotesque of how an evolved democracy should operate. It was business as usual these days and it likely isn't going to matter a damn.
As nearly as I can tell, the nominees for the president-elect's Cabinet fall into several different categories. There are the people you'd pretty much expect from any Republican administration. (James Mattis, Stephen Flynn, Ryan Zinke). There are the people who understand the mission of their departments and have spent their lives undermining it. (Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rick Perry at Energy, Andrew Puzder at Labor). And there are the people who are fundamentally clueless about the general nature of public service. (Rex Tillerson at State.) On Tuesday night, DeVos demonstrated that she is that rarest of Trump administration fauna: Someone who fits capably into all three categories.
She and her family and the Amway gozillions they control have been a bottomless reservoir for the dark money that is the engine behind a dozen different conservative fetish objects, from right-to-work laws, to gutting campaign finance regulations, to injecting splinter Protestantism into every part of the political commons. So she's pretty much what you'd expect from any Republican administration. She understands the mission of the Department of Education and truly dislikes it. And, as was graphically demonstrated even in the truncated questioning Tuesday night, she doesn't know enough about education policy to feed to your guppies.
This was most clearly demonstrated during an exchange with Senator Al Franken. Franken asked her about the distinction in education between proficiency and growth. Then, this happened.
Franken: This brings me to the issue of proficiency, which the senator cited, versus growth. I would like your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
DeVos: I think if i am understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would correlate it to competency and mastery, so each student is measured according to the advancements they are making in each subject area.
Franken: That's growth. That's not proficiency. In other words, the growth they are making isBetsy DeVos' Secretary of Education Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy: