Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rollbacks, attacks and tumult mark DeVos's first year - Education Votes

Rollbacks, attacks and tumult mark DeVos's first year - Education Votes:

Rollbacks, attacks and tumult mark DeVos’s first year


by Félix Pérez
Today marks Betsy DeVos’s first anniversary as President Trump’s education secretary. The first cabinet nominee in the nation’s history to require a tie-breaking vote by a vice president, DeVos remains steadfast in her advocacy for using public school funds for private school vouchers and charter schools. She has not backed away from her mission to tear down public schools and the teachers and education support professionals who work in them, while she has removed protections against predatory for-profit schools and rolled back student rights.

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Lily Eskelsen García, an elementary teacher from Utah and president of the National Education Association, said DeVos has “betrayed and undermined the fundamental mission of public schools to provide opportunity for every student who walks through the door. . . To say that 2017 was a tumultuous year at the federal agency that oversees education policy affecting more than 50 million students is an understatement.”
Eskelsen García, who announced a petition calling for DeVos to resign, added, “We can do better then DeVos. We have to.” She continued:
Over the last few weeks, more than 40,000 members and activists continued to voice their objections about the numerous ways Betsy DeVos has failed students and public schools in the last year. They confirmed what educators already knew: she is the most unqualified education secretary the nation has ever had.

Sign the petition calling on Betsy DeVos to resign.

DeVos’s influence is not limited to the federal government. Below you will find governors races where she and her family have made contributions to candidates who ascribe to her philosophy. Here, in descending order, are our top 5 DeVos stories.

5. School visit ignored how vouchers fail students with disabilities

DeVos’s first visit to a school as education secretary was to a private voucher school in Florida. She and Trump ignored an inconvenient fact about the state’s voucher schools: Florida’s voucher program for special needs students, the McKay Scholarship, asks students with disabilities to waive their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA. The same limitation holds true in many other voucher states. DeVos’s oversight — or slight — came as no surprise given her admitted lack of awareness of the federal special education law at her confirmation hearing. To be clear: Under IDEA, states are required to ensure that all students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education in public schools and that parents are given a voice in their child’s education.

4. Refused to rule out federal funds for private schools that discriminate

At her confirmation hearing, DeVos refused to say whether she would deny federal funds to private schools that discriminate against students based on sexuality, race or special needs. In response to a question from Representative Katherine Clark whether an Indiana voucher school that denies access to students with LGBT parents would be disqualified from receiving education funds, DeVos answered, “For states who have programs that allow for parents to make choices, they set up the rules around that.” Pressed by Clark after DeVos’s nonanswer, DeVos said, “The bottom line is that we believe that parents are the best equipped to make choices for their children’s school and education decisions.”

3. Described historically Black colleges and universities as ‘pioneers of choice’

DeVos praised Historically Black Colleges and Universities as “pioneers of school choice,” a remark that bears no relationship to the truth of their origins. For many generations, HBCUs were the only choice for African American students facing racism and educational segregation. DeVos’s gross inaccuracy prompted educators and students at Rollbacks, attacks and tumult mark DeVos's first year - Education Votes:

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