Sunday, January 15, 2017

Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community:

Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’?

Education, which was hardly ever mentioned in the recent presidential election, has suddenly been thrust to the frontline in the increasingly heated conflict over President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposed cabinet appointees. The reason for that turn of events is his choice of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Her nomination risks “reigniting the education wars,” according to Randi Weingarten, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers union.
Weingarten stated that warning in an address this week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and broadcast live on the AFT Facebook page.
The union leader joins a chorus of education leaders and activists, as well as Democratic party government officials on Capitol Hill, in calls to delay the hearing for DeVos until after government ethics officials have finished their review of DeVos’ numerous ties to financial and charitable interests. After these calls for delay, the confirmation hearing was indeed postponed for a week.
But what education wars?
During her address, Weingarten referrs to the passage of new federal education legislation in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act, that resolved many of the disputes over testing, teacher evaluation, and test-based “accountability” provisions that had been instigated by the previous federal law, No Child Left Behind.
Weingarten calls the consensus over ESSA “hard won” and “positive progress” in the way Republicans and Democrats could work together to govern the nation’s schools. But in Trump’s selection of DeVos, Weingarten sees “the antithesis of public education, ESSA bipartisanship, and what kids need.”
She calls DeVos “the most anti-public education figure ever” to hold the office and says her nomination would make education “a strong issue again” that would divide Republicans and Democrats.
In a phone conversation with Weingarten after her speech, I asked more specifically where she sees signs of a return to a more polarized policy debate over education.
She points to DeVos’ opposition to a bipartisan bill in Michigan, her home state and where she wields considerable influence, that would have returned some oversight of Detroit’s public education system – including regulating the openings and closings of traditional public schools and charter schools – to a mayor-appointed education commission.
Weingarten calls the bill a product of “consensus” among prominent stakeholders in Will Betsy DeVos Restart The ‘Education Wars’? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community:

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