Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Senate committee approves Betsy DeVos, “Thoughtless proponent of the privatization of American education” - The Hechinger Report

Senate committee approves Betsy DeVos, “Thoughtless proponent of the privatization of American education” - The Hechinger Report:

Senate committee approves Betsy DeVos, “Thoughtless proponent of the privatization of American education”
The vote went along party lines


Next up, the nomination moves to the full Senate, which is expected to confirm the appointment, and only needs a majority vote, in a Senate with 52 Republicans. 
Growing up, I was a fan of the comic strip Spy vs. Spy, a staple in Mad Magazine. The strip featured two cold-war era spies, one dressed in white and the other in black, who sought to outwit one another. Usually one spy would best the other, but occasionally their plans would go awry, and both would be blown up.
That’s fine for a comic strip in a humor magazine, but lately it’s been hitting closer to home here in the real world, as the chaotic Trump administration issues incendiary executive orders and then accuses the incredulous senators who oppose them of wanting to start World War III.
It’s even a legitimate fear about the U.S. public education system—one that the past 24 hours has done little to quell, particularly since President Trump’s Education Secretary choice, billionaire Betsy DeVos, was confirmed 12-11 Tuesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP).
A day earlier, HELP released written responses from DeVos to questions posed to her by committee members. Her oral confirmation testimony earlier this month was a cringe-worthy performance, featuring guns vs. grizzlies and her refusal to commit to the same accountability standards for charter and private schools as are in place for traditional public schools that receive taxpayer funds.

The really, really bad. Most disturbing was DeVos’ blind support for virtual charter schools, which have a horrible track record. Senator Murray’s staffers noted recent research on the abysmal academic performance of virtual charter schools, and DeVos flatly denied the evidence.

DeVos’ remarks at the hearing fueled an unusually fierce opposition throughout the country, stemming from her track record of supporting initiatives at odds with many citizens’ conceptions of public education and civil rights.
The written testimony was an opportunity to rehabilitate herself in the eyes of the committee, especially Democratic senators rightly skeptical of her qualifications.
Her responses to 137 questions from ranking Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington spanned 62 pages. But I am not reassured.
Although there were more bright spots in the relatively polished written testimony than in her awkward oral testimony, DeVos remained evasive, and did little to address fears that she is a thoughtless proponent of the privatization of American education.
If her actions in office parallel her responses to the Senate HELP Committee, we’re in for a rocky four years.
Reading Senator Murray’s questions and nominee DeVos’ answers, I was reminded of Spy vs. Spy. In this case, though, it’s Staffer vs. Staffer.
During the live theater of the confirmation hearing, Senators had the benefit of their staffers in preparing questions, but DeVos was all alone, leading to her infamous “guns vs. grizzlies” remarks and a few others that I’m sure she’d like to forget.
But in responding to written questions, both sides had the benefit of staffers. Senator Murray’s staffers sought to pin down DeVos on a range of policy issues, and set a few traps for her.
In turn, nominee DeVos’ staffers wrote answers that allowed her to be maddeningly vague on whether she would continue to support Obama-era education policies, and also on what she might do Senate committee approves Betsy DeVos, “Thoughtless proponent of the privatization of American education” - The Hechinger Report:


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