Sunday, February 26, 2017

How Betsy DeVos Could Fail | Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

How Betsy DeVos Could Fail | Daniel Katz, Ph.D.:

How Betsy DeVos Could Fail

Betsy DeVos has been Secretary of Education for less than three weeks, but her tenure as the custodian of federal education law and policy promises to be as stormy as her confirmation process.  According to this summary from The Washington Post, Secretary DeVos managed to, in a few weeks, insult teachers at a middle school, bashed protesters, claimed she would be fine if her department was shut down by Congress, complained about critics wanting to “make her life a living hell,” did not participate in a scheduled Twitter chat for teachers, suggested that schools are supposed to be able to compensate for all home problems, needed U.S. marshals to protect her during a school visit, demonstrated little understanding of the Common Core State Standards, and signaled her number one priority is any form of schooling other than traditional public schools.
Additionally, insider accounts says that DeVos was opposed to the immediate roll back of Obama administration guidelines protecting transgender students, but she was bullied by Attorney General Jeff Sessions into supporting the decision.  In an interview with Axios, Secretary DeVos confirmed that she would not mind if Congress put her out of work by ending the department, and she confirmed her enthusiasm for different “models” of education:
“I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools. I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven’t even been invented yet.”
It was in an interview with columnist Cal Thomas that DeVos complained about protesters and where she suggested that lack of “character education” was partially to blame for lagging achievement in schools.  In her appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week, she joked that she was “the first person” to tell Senator Bernie Sanders that there was “no such thing as free lunch” – despite the ironic fact that federal law does actually provide free lunches for millions of public school students – and she accused the American Professoriate of more or less brainwashing our students.
It is therefore understandable if advocates for American public education are terrified.  Betsy DeVos is absolutely, almost religiously, dedicated to “disrupting” the public school system, and her record of political advocacy shows that she has little regard for the impacts of her preferred reforms and sees them as a goal unto themselves. With the force of federal education law and spending behind her, and with a Congress eager to abet her efforts, there is a great deal of disruption that she can manage.  Stories from New Orleans and Detroit as well as other cities where charters and privatization have had significant impact with little oversight should serve as cautionary tales for teachers, parents, and How Betsy DeVos Could Fail | Daniel Katz, Ph.D.:


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