Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dutch Treat: Detsy DeVos and the Christian Schools Movement - LA Progressive

Dutch Treat: Detsy DeVos and the Christian Schools Movement - LA Progressive:

Dutch Treat: Detsy DeVos and the Christian Schools Movement


Christian Schools Movement
Betsy DeVos, then Elizabeth Dee Prince, from her 1975 Holland Christian High School yearbook. “She played percussion in the symphony, instruments such as snare and tenor drums, cymbals, wood blocks, triangle and chimes. Betsy was also a member of the Ski and German clubs, on the swim team and a Dutch Dancer during Holland’s annual Tulip Time Festival…”
Perhaps Betsy DeVos can be forgiven for imagining that America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” I mean, she wasn’t there in the middle of the 19th century, so how could she know?

I’m kidding, of course: it’s appalling to see such ignorance in someone who is leading the Education Department.
What’s vastly harder to forgive is the Education Secretary’s draping of the banner of civil rights over what is in fact a longstanding sectarian campaign to subvert public education and drain away public resources for decidedly religious purposes. She got the clueless Mr. Trump to mouth the preferred mantra both in his address to a joint session of Congress and later during his drive-by visit (with DeVos and daughter Ivanka) to a Florida parochial school. That new shibboleth: “School choice is the civil rights issue of our time.”
Much of the reporting on DeVos has centered on her enthusiasm for charter schools and her lavish spending to promote low-performing charters in Michigan and in Detroit in particular.

While billionaire fascination with charters is well worth exploring and exposing, the steady advance of state-level schemes to fund religious education using taxpayer funds barely breaks the surface of media attention.

While billionaire fascination with charters (and here the interventions of the Waltons and theBroads make the DeVos family look like pikers) is well worth exploring and exposing, the steady advance of state-level schemes to fund religious education using taxpayer funds barely breaks the surface of media attention.
State support for religious education takes many forms, the cleverest being the approach pioneered in Arizona ten years ago, whereby individuals get state tax credits for donating to intermediary nonprofits that in turn make tuition grants. Florida has a similar scheme. While relatively few states currently engage in such blatant dodging of the church-state separation principle, dozens offer indirect subsidies in the form of school transportation, textbooks, etc. With DeVos now “leading the charge” (Trump) on treating private education as a civil right, we can reasonably expect religious schools to be among the main beneficiaries in state after state.
In December Politico caused a minor stir when it reported on comments made by Betsy and Dick DeVos 15 years ago in the context of an interview they gave during “The Gathering,” a conclave of powerful Christian activists, to the effect that replacing public schools with religious schools will “advance God’s Kingdom.”
Betsy DeVos made waves of her own with this quote at last year’s annual meeting of the American Federation for Children (an organization that she helped to found):
We are winning in state after state. In the past six years, we’ve doubled the number of private school choice programs to 50, the number of private school choice states to 25, plus Dutch Treat: Detsy DeVos and the Christian Schools Movement - LA Progressive:


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