Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Public Good? Betsy DeVos Doesn’t Get It. | janresseger

The Public Good? Betsy DeVos Doesn’t Get It. | janresseger

The Public Good? Betsy DeVos Doesn’t Get It.


When she spoke recently at the Education Writers Association, Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, swallowed whatever humility she has and presumed to redefine the role public education in our society.  Betsy loves freedom from government (even though she works for the government), and she can’t seem to discern any difference between what is good for the individual and what is good for us all together.
Here is what she told the nation’s education journalists: “I entered public life to promote policies that empower all families. Notice that I said ‘families,’ not government… I am a common-sense conservative with a healthy distrust of centralized government. Instead, I trust the American people to live their own lives and to decide their own destinies… Margaret Thatcher said that government ‘has no source of money other than the money people earn themselves.’ There is no such thing as ‘public money.’ The Iron Lady was right! … Let’s stop and rethink the definition of public education. Today, it’s often defined as one-type of school, funded by taxpayers, controlled by government. But if every student is part of ‘the public,’ then every way and every place a student learns is ultimately of benefit to ‘the public.’ That should be the new definition of public education.” So Betsy defines public schools and charter schools and private schools funded with vouchers and tuition tax credits and education savings accounts, and home schooling and maybe even Girl Scouts and piano lessons as public education.  It is pretty hard to see where she would draw the line.
In a recent Washington Post column, Adam Laats, a professor of education at the State University of New York in Binghamton, refutes DeVos’s new definition of public education as entirely impractical.  Laats looks back at education in the United States very early in the nineteenth century, when we basically had a public-private model, and shows why we replaced that old model with something that worked better—universal, publicly funded education:
“DeVos’s ‘new definition’ is exactly how American elites thought about public education in the first half of the 19th century… (T)he first generation of education leaders begged and borrowed from governments and private philanthropists to create schools for all, believing their project was of benefit to the American public. Back then, a public school was simply one that served the public; the funding usually came from a blend of public and private sources, and the schools themselves were usually run by churches and private charitable CONTINUE READING: The Public Good? Betsy DeVos Doesn’t Get It. | janresseger

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