Sunday, April 16, 2017

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet: Betsy DeVos is an ideologue, not the face of education reform | Chalkbeat

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet: Betsy DeVos is an ideologue, not the face of education reform | Chalkbeat:

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet: Betsy DeVos is an ideologue, not the face of education reform
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet on Friday visited a Denver school with a large immigrant population to quiz students about the current political climate, field their questions and calm their fears.
The setting was Bruce Randolph School, a northeast Denver middle and high school where, last month, a classroom full of middle-schoolers tweeted President Trump with messages about how their immigrant families make America great.
School leadership then visited the Colorado congressional delegation in Washington, including Bennet, to deliver bound copies of those tweets. That led Bennet to return the favor with a school visit.
Students asked the Democratic senator, a former Denver schools superintendent, about immigration policy, the expense of college and federal policy about public lands.
One student posed a simple question for Bennet: “Do you like Mexicans?” (After detailing his family’s Polish immigrant past and his work in Denver Public Schools, he made clear that yes, he does).
Bennet’s message to students on edge about the fates of their loved ones who are undocumented: “Try not to be distracted, and we’ll try to figure this out somehow.”
In an interview with Chalkbeat afterward, Bennet answered questions about what he learned from the school visit, his impressions of Betsy DeVos’s start as U.S. education secretary, his fears about how the Trump administration might undermine the nation’s new education law, and more.
This transcript has been lightly edited.
What did you take away from the school visit today? Did it confirm things you suspected, or open your eyes to anything you hadn’t thought about?
It mostly confirmed what I have heard, which is there are a lot of kids in this school that are worried about what is going on with immigration in the country, and concerns about families being broken up, and a kind of a weight that is hanging over them as they try to study and prepare to go to college or a career after high school. That’s a heavy burden for a teenager to carry and for a middle schooler to carry. What I hope is we are able to send a more productive signal from Washington than one that’s been sent in the past few months.
Overall, how would you assess the job Betsy DeVos has done since she was confirmed as education secretary?
I’ve been very disappointed but not surprised. I think she really is an ideologue when it comes to our public schools. When she talks about education in this country, she does not project support, really, for public education. Just the other day, the Denver Public Schools was recognized by a group in Washington for being the No. 1 choice school district in America and she went to that ceremony and took the opportunity to denigrate the work in the Denver Public Schools without having been here. So that does not instill me with a great deal of confidence.
Anything in particular, anything else, that has been disappointing?
I read the other day that she said when asked about the results that had occurred in the Michigan schools and the Detroit schools, her answer to that was that she wasn’t a numbers person, and that she was just for choice. Choice is not choice for choice’s sake. Choice is about improving outcomes for kids and you cannot do that without real accountability that ensures that there is rigor, that we are moving towards rigor, for kids that are choosing schools in the system. I wish she would come to Denver and take a look at the work that’s been done here, both in terms of choice and in terms of trying to move our traditional schools forward.Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet: Betsy DeVos is an ideologue, not the face of education reform | Chalkbeat:

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