Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Diane Ravitch vs Sen. Alexander: Yes, Betsy DeVos is an education extremist. Don’t confirm her as education secretary. - The Washington Post

Diane Ravitch to Sen. Alexander: Yes, Betsy DeVos is an education extremist. Don’t confirm her as education secretary. - The Washington Post:

Diane Ravitch to Sen. Alexander: Yes, Betsy DeVos is an education extremist. Don’t confirm her as education secretary.


Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate committee that is voting on the nomination of Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as President Trump’s education secretary, is the author of “The Little Plaid Book,” a list of rules and lessons for anyone seeking a leadership position. Rule 168 says, “Read whatever Diane Ravitch writes about education.”
Ravitch worked as assistant education secretary under Alexander, who was education secretary in the administration of former president George H.W. Bush. Since Alexander wrote that, Ravitch has undergone a radical change in her views about education reform after seeing the consequences of school choice and standardized test-based accountability systems on students and teachers. An education historian and public school advocate, Ravitch became the titular leader of the movement against corporate school reform after the 2010 publishing of her book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.”
In a previous post on The Answer Sheet,  Alexander made his case for why he supports DeVos and accuses DeVos’s critics of opposing her because they don’t like charter schools and vouchers and they don’t like the fact that she is wealthy.
In this post, Ravitch writes in an open letter to Alexander why she believes that DeVos is an education extremist and should not be confirmed.
DeVos went before Alexander’s committee for her confirmation hearing and stumbled. She revealed a lack of understanding of basic education issues, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Alexander was criticized by Democrats for refusing to give them enough time to question her at the hearing, and he has rejected a request for a second hearing before the panel votes on her confirmation.
Ravitch posted the following open letter on her blog, and she gave me permission to republish it.
Here is the open letter Ravitch wrote to Alexander:
Dear Lamar,
I hope you don’t mind my taking the liberty of writing you a public letter.
I was just reading your book of sayings, the Little Plaid Book. For those who don’t know, this is your book of “311 rules, lessons, and reminders about running for office and making a difference whether it’s for president of the United States or president of your senior class.”
The main lesson of the book for me is that you should be honest with people. You shouldn’t bore them. You shouldn’t lecture them or try to impress them. You should get to know them, listen to them, respect their concerns, and try to understand their problems.
Sen. Alexander: Betsy DeVos is not an education extremist and should be education secretary



President Trump’s nomination of Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary may well have resulted in the most contentious confirmation process among his Cabinet picks. DeVos’s supporters say she is a strong supporter of school “choice” who will not harm traditional public schools, while her critics say that her decades-long activism in education show that her priority is the privatization of public education.
At her confirmation hearing last week, DeVos was peppered with tough questions from Democrats on the Senate education committee, and some of her responses were criticized for revealing a lack of understanding of basic issues in education. The hearing became further charged when Democrats repeatedly asked the committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), for a second round of questioning and he declined. He has also declined to hold a second hearing, as requested by Democrats. One Republican on the panel expressed some concern about DeVos’s education vision at the hearing.
Alexander has gone defensive, giving speeches and writing op-eds saying that DeVos is not an extremist, as her critics contend, but in the mainstream of education thought. This is an op-ed he wrote that was published on Medium, and I was given permission to republish it.
By Lamar Alexander
Democrats desperately are searching for a valid reason to oppose Betsy DeVos for U.S. education secretary because they don’t want Americans to know the real reason for their opposition.
That real reason? She has spent more than three decades helping children from low-income families choose a better school. Specifically, Democrats resent her support for allowing tax dollars to follow children to schools their low-income parents’ choose — although wealthy families choose their children’s schools every day.
Tax dollars supporting school choice is hardly subversive or new. In 2016, $121 billion in federal Pell Grants and new student loans followed 11 million college students to accredited public, private or religious schools of their choice, whether Notre Dame, Yeshiva, the University of Tennessee or Nashville’s auto diesel college. These aid payments are, according to Webster’s — “vouchers”-exactly the same form of payments that Mrs. DeVos supports for schools.
America’s experience with education vouchers began in 1944 with the GI Bill. As veterans Sen. Alexander: Betsy DeVos is not an education extremist and should be education secretary

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