Monday, July 30, 2018

The DeVos Democrats and Betsy DeVos’ Message to Students: You Have the Right to Be Ripped Off

Betsy DeVos’ Message to Students: You Have the Right to Be Ripped Off

Betsy DeVos’ Message to Students: You Have the Right to Be Ripped Off
The education secretary’s new rules on student loans favor the predatory institutions that don’t provide good educations and blame the students who trusted them.

When I read about what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did last week on student loans, I thought back to all my visits to college campuses in the late nineties, dazzled by all the different lives I might lead after graduating high school.
But for all the specifics about, say, how many books were in the library, the guides usually handled one subject with shoulder-shrugging vagueness: money. When asked about high tuition at the University of Notre Dame, an administrator said simply: “What’s more important than your education?”
What indeed? Any counterargument comes across as philistine. But the administrator’s glibness belied how brutal student debt is. At the excessive levels that are now typical, it constricts your life—limiting your choices in where you work and live, and whether and when you marry and parent—because you sought an education in hopes of expanding your life.
I opted for an in-state school, the University of Michigan, and worked constantly (unpaid internships, I hardly knew ye), but the tremendous education debt that I began building at age 18 would shadow me for the next 20 years.
Still, it’s nothing compared to the perniciousness of for-profit colleges that exploit the dreams of students—often non-traditional ones, like veterans and older adults—by using them as vehicles to access federal loan money and delivering desperately little skill-building and job readiness in return. Then they leave the students holding the tab.

In essence, what DeVos did last week affirmed that that’s a perfectly fine way to do business—and, indeed, the federal government will both subsidize and cover for these faux schools. Both draft and proposed changes show that Continue reading: Betsy DeVos’ Message to Students: You Have the Right to Be Ripped Off

The DeVos Democrats
Corporate Democrats have enabled Betsy DeVos's privatization agenda for years. It's time for them to choose which side they're on.

My children attend an amazing public elementary school in Bloomington, Illinois. The student body is diverse, and the teachers are committed professionals who genuinely care about the wellbeing and education of all their students.
The school building is full of joy. Many of the children could not receive such an education — would not spend their days in a place of joyful learning — if not for this public school. Whenever I spend time there, I always leave feeling optimistic about the future of public education in the United States.
Then I read the news and my optimism turns to dread.
Donald Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s next secretary of education is Betsy DeVos, a longtime Republican operative from two of the wealthiest and most powerful conservative families in the nation. She is the daughter of Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation; sister of Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor formerly known as Blackwater; and daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos, the billionaire who co-founded the Amway Corporation. DeVos, who received her entire education from private Christian schools, also has close ties to the conservative Christian Reformed Church.

For years, DeVos has used her enormous wealth and power to promote what is euphemistically called “school choice.” Perhaps the most pervasive education reform idea of the last few decades, school choice is sold as a way to give parents more educational options for their children. Under a voucher program, for instance, parents would be able to take public money that normally goes to fund traditional public schools and use it to send their children to private schools. If DeVos has her way, the state would even fund religious schools of the type she attended, which teach deeply conservative curricula that include creationism.
At her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, DeVos told Bernie Sanders: “I have worked very hard on behalf of parents and children for the last almost thirty years, to be a voice for parents and a voice for students and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, primarily low-income children.”
While that’s a dubious spin on an insidious career, it’s undoubtedly true that DeVos has funded and led some of the most influential school choice organizations in the country: All Children Matter, Alliance for School Choice, American Education Reform Council, American Federation of Children, Children First America, Education Freedom Fund, Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Great Lakes Education Project.

As many of her critics have pointed out, DeVos is a case study in the nefarious ways that big money shapes education policy in the United States. But she takes such criticism in stride. In 1997 she wrote: “I have decided . . . to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return.”
In short, DeVos is arguably the nation’s most powerful proponent of school privatization — and now, even after bumbling her way through her confirmation hearing, she’s set to take the reins of the Department of Education.
American public schools have some very serious problems. Spend time in the crumbling public schools Continue reading: The DeVos Democrats