Monday, May 15, 2017

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists - World Socialist Web Site

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists - World Socialist Web Site:

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists

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On May 9, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered the keynote address for the annual Arizona State University + Global Silicon Valley (ASU+GSV) Summit in Salt Lake City. The event took place the day before the billionaire heiress was roundly booed by the graduating class at Bethune-Cookman University.



Addressing a standing-room only audience of venture capitalists and school privatizers, DeVos dismissed the American education system as “an outdated Prussian education model.” She emphasized her desire to end government’s role in education and called for scrapping the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Apparently, the US secretary views with contempt the pioneering of free, tax-funded and public education established in the north German state in the early 1800s. The “Prussian model,” which was deeply influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, was to become the international model for modern mass education. Minister of Education Wilhelm von Humboldt, appointed in 1809, is largely credited for this vision of education based on inculcating literacy, broad general knowledge, cosmopolitan-mindedness and academic freedom.
The system was already groundbreaking by the 1830s, featuring professional teacher training, a national curriculum, an extended school year to accommodate rural children, a basic salary for teachers, funding for school buildings and even free and mandatory kindergarten. “The Prussian approach was used for example in the Michigan Constitution of 1835, which fully embraced the Prussian system by introducing a range of primary schools, secondary schools, and the University of Michigan itself, all administered by the state and supported with tax-based funding,” according to Wikipedia.
In 1843 Horace Mann, considered the “father of the common school movement” in the US, visited Germany to study and replicate the “Prussian model.” France and Great Britain enacted compulsory schooling in the 1880s.
It is interesting to note that the “Prussian model” contrasted with a type of Calvinistic utilitarianism promoted by English and Swiss education reformers. DeVos has traced her ideological influences to Andrew Kuyper, a neo-Calvinist opponent of secular education.
DeVos is fully conscious of the scale of the social counterrevolution she wants to impose on American education. Schooling should be largely returned to the churches, according to this arch-reactionary, along with for-profit education companies.
DeVos went on to tell the friendly crowd of edu-business investors and speculators that she was for “get[ing] the federal government out of the way so you can do your job…. It’s time for us to break out of the confines of the federal government’s arcane approach to education,” she emphasized, according to the website EdSurge.
She made her usual “school choice” arguments couched in populist bromides, as in, “Those who are closest to the problem are those best equipped to solve it.” She restated her hostility to universal public education: “Our education-delivery method should be as diverse as the kids they serve, instead of our habit of forcing them into a one-size-fits-all model.” The assembled entrepreneurs were all aware these were code words for opening up the education “market” for profiteering, in addition to slotting poorer children into low-skill utilitarian jobs.
She promised to “cut the red tape” for education businesses and described the education technology industry as a “thousand flowers, and we haven’t planted the whole garden yet.”
The gathering consisted primarily of representatives from GSV Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed bank with substantial venture capital investments in education technology including JAMF Software, coursera, Chegg, Curious.com and Course Hero.


At the conclusion of her address, DeVos was asked about the pending reauthorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act, originally signed by Lyndon Johnson as part of his Great Society programs. “Why would we re-authorize US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists - World Socialist Web Site:
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