Saturday, June 10, 2017

To Understand Betsy DeVos’s Educational Views, View Her Education - The New York Times

To Understand Betsy DeVos’s Educational Views, View Her Education - The New York Times:

To Understand Betsy DeVos’s Educational Views, View Her Education

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HOLLAND, Mich. — The students formed a circle around the Rev. Ray Vanderlaan, who draped himself in a Jewish ceremonial prayer shawl to cap his final lesson to graduating seniors in his discipleship seminar at Holland Christian High School.
“We’re sending you out into a broken world, in part because of my generation,” the minister told the students. Referring to God, he exhorted them to “extend his kingdom.”
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Mr. Vanderlaan could not have missed his lesson’s echoes of Holland Christian’s most famous graduate, Betsy DeVos, who proclaimed in an audio recording that surfaced in December that her education advocacy would “advance God’s kingdom.” Last month, in her first commencement address as education secretary, Ms. DeVos again reflected her own education when she told graduates at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., that “my generation hasn’t done a great job when it comes to dealing with one another in grace.”
She continued, “You have an opportunity to do better.”
Holland Christian is one of several western Michigan nonpublic schools that have helped shape Ms. DeVos’s views of elementary and secondary education, and that her critics fear she will draw from to upend the nation’s public schools. The private Christian school that she attended, another that she sent her children to and a hardscrabble private religious school that she has long supported have dominated her time, money and attention.
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Public neighborhood schools — the vast majority of schools in this country — were hardly present in the billionaire’s childhood or adult life.

Photo

Ms. DeVos as a Holland Christian High School junior in a 1974 yearbook.

Critics say this lopsided exposure fueled Ms. DeVos’s staunch support of privately run, publicly funded charter schools and voucher programs that allow families to take tax dollars from the public education system to private schools.
In an interview, Ms. DeVos disagreed, saying the schools in which she has personal investment reflect only an agenda of empowering parents with a right that she was afforded by privilege: choice.
“Some say, ‘You’re trying to force all families to make choices other than public schools,’ and the response to that is, ‘Absolutely not,’” Ms. DeVos said. “If your public school is working great for your child, you should embrace that and support it and celebrate it. And if not, you should have the opportunity to choose something different.”
Ms. DeVos has maintained that she is “agnostic” about the type of schools that parents choose for their children. But in western Michigan,To Understand Betsy DeVos’s Educational Views, View Her Education - The New York Times:

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