Trump nominates billionaire voucher proponent to lead USDOE

President-elect Donald Trump today nominated controversial school-choice activist and billionaire Betsy DeVos to head  the U.S. Education Department.

A high-profile Republican donor from Michigan, DeVos is a polarizing nominee as she’s devoted her efforts to creating escape routes from public schools. DeVos, 58, is married to Dick DeVos, the former president of Amway and of the Orlando Magic NBA franchise . He once ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan. Amway was founded by his father.

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos leads the American Federation for Children, which describes its mission as “promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs and Education Savings Accounts. … We believe public education must be defined as providing families with the public funding they need to choose the education they determine is best for their children.”

According to the Detroit Free Press:

DeVos’ background is a fit for Trump’s plans to boost school choice in the U.S., particularly for high-poverty students. She is on the board of directors for the Great Lakes Education Project, which advocates for school choice and charter schools. DeVos and her husband led a failed effort to amend the Michigan constitution to provide vouchers that would allow students to attend private schools at public expense. That’s a centerpiece of Trump’s education plan. He would invest $20 billion in federal money toward school choice, and expect states to kick in $110 billion of their own money, to provide $12,000 each in school choice funds to the 11 million school-age children living in poverty.

“Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families,” said Trump.

Here are two distinctly different reactions to the selection of DeVos.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said:

Betsy DeVos is an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education. She has a long and distinguished history championing the right of all parents to choose schools that best ensure their children’s success. Her allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next.

I cannot think of a more effective and passionate change agent to press for a new education vision, one in which students, rather than adults and bureaucracies, become the priority in our nation’s classrooms. I congratulate Betsy and look forward to her bold leadership at the U.S. Department of Education.

National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said:

Every day, educators use their voice to advocate for every student to reach his or her full potential. We believe that the chance for the success of a child should not depend on winning a charter lottery, being accepted by a private school, or living in the right ZIP code. We have, and will continue, to fight for all students to have a great public school in their community and the opportunity to succeed no matter their backgrounds or circumstances.

Betsy DeVos has consistently worked against these values, and her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students. She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers — which take away funding and local control from our public schools — to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense. These schemes do nothing to help our most-vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps. She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education. By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.

Educators will continue to focus on raising their voices in support of their students and against any effort by the Trump administration to undermine the educational opportunity of all public school students.

 

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267 comments
MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

To Ed Johnson:


Evidently, my thoughts in response to your inquiry of me are not being posted for the public here.  You can read my answer to you on my blog's last entry, here:

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings Thank you, Mary Elizabeth.  I, too, have been experiencing blockage of posts here lately.  I will read your thoughts later today.  

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings To be brief (but please forgive me if I don’t).

On the one hand, there is the article you cite: Obama’s War on School Choice at

--http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430446/obama-against-school-choice

On the other hand, there is the article Obama proclaims National Teacher Appreciation Week but why special appreciation for charter schools? at

--http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/5/3/1522635/-Obama-proclaims-National-Teacher-Appreciation-Week-but-why-special-appreciation-for-charter-schools

I see that these two articles juxtaposed give us a dilemma to resolve and it’s a moral dilemma, at that.  The question then is how resolve the dilemma, how to resolve it by what criterion or criteria.  I offer the adage “actions speak louder than words” as the necessary and sufficient criterion.  If one can see that Obama’s words and actions match up, then the dilemma resolves – actually, it dissolves.  However, if one cannot see that Obama’s words and actions match up, one must stake a position in favor of either his words or his actions in order to resolve the dilemma in one’s mind, or be at peace with the dilemma.

For me, at the very moment Obama shockingly took corporatist Arne Duncan to be U.S. Secretary of Education, when in fact he had lead the nation to expect he would take the educationist Linda Darling-Hammond, that action instantaneously crystalized for me a deep, wide, irreconcilable chasm between the words Obama had spoken up to that point and the privatizing, public education-destroying actions I knew would follow from the point.  Subsequently, I wrote Obama twice about the matter.  Each time I invited him to consider, in particular, damaging consequences known to come from arbitrary and capricious competition, including destruction of intrinsic motivation, cooperation and collaboration, and interdependence.  Each time he replied, though unaffected and messaging he would press forward to inject competition into public education.

The new book, Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform, and the Politics of Influence, by Megan E. Tompkins-Stange (aka, EduShyster) offers researched first person though anonymous accounts by agents of corporatists, philanthropists, profiteers, and would-be oligarchs Obama welcomed into USED with the result seeds of destruction of public education as a public good were sawn into the fabric of the department.  A horribly telling account came from one such agent who referred to our US Presidency as the “Gates Administration.”  Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post introduces the book and offers an interview with Tompkins-Stange at --https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/08/25/new-book-obamas-education-department-and-gates-foundation-were-closer-than-you-thought/

Thus for me the dilemma we have before us resolves to Obama’s elegantly spoken and delivered words have been woefully inconsistent with his actions as regards public education.  Public education in support of democratic ideals and practice for a sustainable nation should for all of us be of such fundamental importance as to be never compromised, especially for the President of the United States and our interdependent world.  Lincoln understood the importance of integrity:

--https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS-7PfzNlgI

I see future historians will praise Obama, but only if the dominate form of U.S. government will have regressed to become an oligarchy and/or corporatocracy.  In this case Obama will be accorded a legacy worthy of historical praise as reward for having greatly lead the country into conditions where election of the authoritarian Donald Trump was inevitable.  Then after Trump, it will be downhill for democracy.

However, should the country be fortunate enough to recover from Obama’s actions and now Trump’s actions, to result in preservation of democratic ideals and practice, then history will judge Obama harshly, and deservedly so.

This then brings me to this particular belief you have of Jefferson:

“I believe that Jefferson would have found a way to have combined competition and collaboration in public education for the good of all Americans with collaboration taking ultimate priority so that the uniqueness of thinking of any one person on Earth would forever be sustained because competition, misused and taken to the extreme, can create fear and the quest for ephemeral goals, only, in the mind of man – which is capable of so much more insight than those more limited emotions would allow.”

I, too, believe this of Jefferson.  Moreover, I, too, believe Obama is a politician and not a MLK, Jr.  I also believe Obama is not a Jefferson nor a Lincoln, for his actions, contrary to his words, are clearly antithetical to “public education for the good of all Americans with collaboration taking ultimate priority[.]”  Obama’s Race to the Top Competition offers evidence enough.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson @MaryElizabethSings


Ed, my response to you was not posted here.  Please see my blog again for my second response to you.  Best regards to you.  It is always a pleasure to exchange thoughts with you.  Could that be because we both support a collaborative more than a competitive spirit? ;-)

class80olddog
class80olddog

When I was at UGA, there was a guy who ran for President of the Student Government  Association with a paper bag over his head under the name of the Unknown Candidate, and his platform was that if he won he would abolish the SGA.  He did win and he did abolish the SGA.  Perhaps that is what Mrs. DeVos should do - abolish the Federal DOE.  And maybe Trump could get congress to abolish IDEA, while they are at it.  That would free schools to use their money in a more beneficial manner.

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog Should the DOE stop funding for the states? I don't like the idea of Georgia spending my Federal tax money.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik @class80olddog Yes, Washington should keep its dang money!  The problem with Federal money is that it ALWAYS comes with strings attached, and the strings usually cost more than the money they give you.  Take IDEA for example - it is only binding on schools that accept Federal money (say, all schools).  But the mandates that it requires are hugely expensive and do not provide any reasonable improvement.  There is also a "national" 21-year-old drinking age, just like there was a "national" 55-mph speed limit.  Did the States want this?  NO! But if they refuse, there goes the Federal highway funds that STATE citizens paid to the FEDS.  It is called the carrot and the stick.

Starik
Starik

@class80olddog @Starik I'm aware. Georgia, however, needs Federal money.  Georgia likes "Go Fish" projects and even better roads in South Georgia more than seaports, airports and that sort of thing.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Don't want charter schools and school choice - there is a simple solution - improve the traditional schools.  But that is not an option, because to improve them you would have to slay some PC sacred cows - such as discipline and social promotion and attendance.  Right now you have schools that need MORE discipline choosing to discipline LESS because the ones who need it are "students of color" (is this the current PC term?).  Students in failing schools do not get educated to minimum standards in their grade (partly because of attendance) so they are just "passed along" to  grade, where the problem is compounded.  Teachers CHEAT by giving passing grades to failing students.  Lack of attendance is not punished, so students stay home rather than attend school.  Teachers cannot teach an empty desk!  Then administrators CHEAT by reporting better numbers than real on attendance.  So if you don't want to fix your problems, at least have the courtesy to GET OUT OF THE WAY, and let charters and vouchers have a chance to try.  Maybe they will do better and maybe they won't, but we need to try something different.  Doing the same thing and expecting different results - well, you know the rest.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog

Research Graduation Achievement HIgh School(formerly known as Provost Academy). This is a state run charter school that has an 8% graduation rate, seems to have no attendance policy, costs the taxpayers million$, and hides all hiring, personnel, spending, and vendor payments from the public. This is the model for which you are advocating - it seems to follow none of the standards you desire. Where is your outrage against the dark money state run charter school system?


class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog "Savannah Welcomes New Graduation Program for High School Drop Outs. Graduation Achievement Centers of Georgia, formerly known as Magic Johnson Bridgescape, are tuition-free programs open to students ages 14 to 20 who have left school or are considering leaving school but want to earn a standard high school diploma."


So you are saying that a graduation rate of 8% of students who were dropping out anyway is a failure?  And you know that it is a virtual, on-line school, right?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @AvgGeorgian

Of course I know these things - this is the same future demographic in many "failing" schools. 

Please defend them on your own requirements:

Social Promotion

 Cheating students

 Cheating teachers

 Cheating  administrators

 Discipline

 Attendance

Now try to find any information about where the $millions go and who gets it?

This is the future of "choice".

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog That is NOT the future of choice!  Choice would mean that a group of caring parents could start a charter school to compete with the existing failing school and actually get the same resources as the failing school.  Choice would mean that a middle-class family could send their child to a private school that they could not afford before, rather than have to move to the suburbs to be in a good school district and commute two hours to work!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @AvgGeorgian

You are confronted with the secret money state charter system the state has set up. You seem to be okay with that.

Choice. So you think parents of school aged students are a special, privileged class that have a right to spend all taxpayers money for public education with no accountability to the taxpayer?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog They are going to spend the money no matter what I think - it is only a matter of WHO spends it and what results they get for the money.  I am all for accountability - charters should account for their spending as well as traditional schools.  But if you can find out how much money (what percentage of spending) Dekalb spends on Administration, I would appreciate the reference link.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog Come on. What you really care about is keeping teachers working, especially black undereducated teachers. Forget the kids!  Preserve the black middle class!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik

Are you talking to me? If so, on what basis do you predicate your accusation?

class80olddog
class80olddog

Let me EDUCATE people on here - Georgia is indeed a "right-to-work" state, but that does not mean unions are not allowed.  A "right-to-work" state is one where employees are not FORCED to join the union at a company where it is certified.  I have read the Georgia laws and I see nothing that makes it illegal for teachers to have and join a union - just that no union could bargain for the teachers - there is no collective bargaining, nor strike approval.  I have worked for both union and non-union companies in my many years.  

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog

"Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy. " https://www.nlrb.gov/resources/national-labor-relations-act

"Under the NLRA, you have the right to: • Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. • Form, join or assist a union. • Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions. • Discuss your terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union. • Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union. • Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing. • Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union. "


https://www.dol.gov/OLMS/regs/compliance/EmployeeRightsPoster11x17_Final.pdf

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog  "20-2-989.10.  Collective bargaining not permitted or fostered



   Nothing in this part shall be construed to permit or foster collective bargaining as part of the state rules or local unit of administration policies."
This is the only Georgia Code reference I have about "teachers' unions" - if there is another, please supply a reference number.  I see nothing outlawing teacher's forming a union, only collective bargaining.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @AvgGeorgian

The main purpose of a labor union is collective bargaining. If you cannot collectively bargain, then the word "union" is synonymous with association, group, club, organization etc.  

You can join AAA and say you have car insurance because you have roadside help and towing coverage but you do not say my car insurance company is AAA.

It helps to think about it this way - AAA is to State Farm as GAE and Page is to NEA and AF.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog "la·bor un·ion

nounplural noun: labor unions
  1. an organized association of workers, often in a trade or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests."

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @AvgGeorgian

Yes- organized to protect and further their rights and interests. Organized how? Under your definition all professional associations are unions.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog I have NEVER belonged to a union.  I have always negotiated for myself, on my own attributes.  No organization ever protected me if I refused to sweep when my job called for me to install a bolt, when there were no bolts to be installed.  I also have NEVER filed for unemployment benefits.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog Of course - but the dues were NEVER paid by "payroll deduction".  Most union dues ARE paid by payroll deduction. Name a "professional organization" whose dues are normally paid by payroll deduction.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @AvgGeorgian

So you were in an association that advocated on your behalf( union as you call it) but the dues were not payroll deducted.

Disability insurance is payroll deducted as is dental, cancer, life, and vision insurance. A teacher association's main purpose is liability insurance. Do you have a problem with liability insurance being deducted from payroll?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog No, I did not say I was in an organization that "advocated on my behalf".  And insurance and dues are two entirely different things.  Why should a teacher need liability insurance for doing his/her job?  I don't have liability insurance to do my job.

class80olddog
class80olddog

From the NRLB:  The Act does not cover certain Individuals. In addition to the foregoing limitations, the Act states that the term "employee" shall include any employee except the following:

• Agricultural laborers.

• Domestic servants.

• Any individual employed by his parent or spouse.

• Independent contractors.

• Supervisors.

• Individuals employed by an employer subject to the Railway Labor Act.

• Government employees, including those employed by the U .S. Government, any Government corporation or Federal Reserve Bank, or any State or political subdivision such as a city, town, or school district. "

Orchid601
Orchid601

"$12,000 each in school choice funds to the 11 million school-age children living in poverty."  Ha, ha, ha,ha.  This is truly funny. What child living in poverty can afford to go to a PRIVATE school for $12,000.00?  What really is happening is the creation of a method that the very rich can use to get "help" funding their very rich children going to really expensive private school.  They are trying to disguise it as helping the poor poverty ridden children.  Yeah right. What people don't seem to understand is that those of us that cannot afford private school even with this generous voucher that does not cover the expense will lose.  The schools lose money and what happens?  Cuts on everything including teachers.  Overcrowding in classes and further derogation of our education system.   Our children are the losers here. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Orchid601 Why would other students leaving the school affect the remaining students - yes the money leaves with them but also the school doesn't have to spend money on educating the student who leaves.  Oh, that's right, the money isn't really going to education of the children - it is going to pay salaries in the bloated Central Office - and those jobs will not be cut no matter how few students they serve.  I understand perfectly now.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Orchid601 "The schools lose money and what happens?  Cuts on everything including teachers."  You are wrong - there will NEVER be cuts in the Administration.  Teachers, yes (you won't need as many teachers for fewer students), but ADMINISTRATORS, NEVER.  What do you think the purpose of the failing school is, to educate - HA!  It is only a jobs program for people who can't get jobs elsewhere.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @Orchid601

Your premise does not work unless you remove exactly 30 students at a time and have a way to remove that exact % from school system costs.

If you have 2 children and one leaves home, the costs to run your household are not reduced by 50%. 

I do think that a certain mandatory high percentage should be spent in the classroom(say 85% give or take). This could easily be legislated by our state government. Why is it not? The charter corporations and privateers cannot make enough profit if that much money goes to the classroom.

keithbusting
keithbusting

I truly believe that Betsy DeVos, her husband and former governor Jeb Bush benefitted from the very public education system which they now seem to be on a mission to gut.

Starik
Starik

@keithbusting I doubt it, but if they did attend public schools, I'd bet they were good ones.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

The goal, of course, is to resegregate the schools - even more than they are now.  One will need to understand the system, apply, and be admitted.  Guess who does the admitting.  Is this equality?  Is this equal opportunity?  And - no private tuition payments required. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Ed Johnson, please see my responses, far below, to you regarding your thoughtful inquiry of me on this blog, Thanksgiving Day.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Ralph-43 

Ralph, another more pressing goal of the charter school/school choice movement, imo, is to make public education, as we know it today, obsolete because the delivery of education would be controlled by private enterprise, and that leads to controlling education for personal profit.

The students' mind in such an overall system would not be able to explore in ways not assigned, if profit were to become the dominant goal of public education.  One needs forethought to be able to understand why this charter school movement, as presently designed and instigated, as benign as it can sound would actually crush the foundation of America's originally proclaimed democratic principles in the long run.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings Mary Elizabeth, I believe you have given a Jeffersonian collaboration-competition composite lens through which to see to ask this more compelling question, albeit unanswerable: Why hasn’t President Obama been highly competitive for sustaining the soul of public education?

You wrote:

“I believe that Jefferson knew that we must work together as a human race to continue the evolution of the better angels of our natures and, for that reason among others, Jefferson was a social being. He also loved to be among people in a quiet and reserved way. I believe that Jefferson would have found a way to have combined competition and collaboration in public education for the good of all Americans with collaboration taking ultimate priority so that the uniqueness of thinking of any one person on Earth would forever be sustained because competition, misused and taken to the extreme, can create fear and ephemeral goals, only, in the mind of man – which is capable of so much more insight than those more limited emotions allow. For example, I am most certain that Thomas Jefferson would be appalled at the idea of education designed primarily as a business endeavor for profit for individuals, which too often does take competition between people to a cruel and extreme degree upon society.”

“Ed, I must write, also, that Thomas Jefferson was highly competitive for the soul of America as he demonstrated in the presidential election of 1800.”

Without question, President Obama chose to lead “education designed primarily as a business endeavor for profit for individuals, which too often does take competition between people to a cruel and extreme degree upon society.”

As Obama intimated in announcing his Race to the Top Competition, the business endeavor is charter schools contextualized by public schools, such that charter schools may be any or all of opportunistically infectious, cancerous, and cannibalistic competition for public schools (e.g., conversion charter schools; closing public schools and reopening them as charter schools).

Thus unlike Jefferson who, as you say, “was highly competitive for [sustaining] the soul of public education,” clearly, Obama has been highly competitive for privatizing the soul of public education.  And that is unforgivable above all else, especially of the first President of the United States of America who self-identifies being African-American.  So consequently, and predictably so, our country will have Donald Trump to continue where Obama leaves off in the process of being highly competitive for privatizing the soul of public education, and thereby consuming and otherwise destroying it.

On the one hand, I believe only history as told by a future oligarchic or corporatocratic U.S. will judge Obama kindly, as reward.  On the other hand, I believe history as told by a future democratically principled U.S. will judge Obama harshly.  Hopefully we will be smart enough and wise enough to soon return to wanting for our children a democratically principled U.S., even if it takes a Jeffersonian collaboration-competition composite lens through which to see why and how to attain it.  After all,

"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.“

Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 ‐ c. 323 BCE)

Thank you, Mary Elizabeth Sings!

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@Starik 

This is my model.  It speaks to, and even predicts, why a Trump would get elected.  Got questions?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@Starik

Ebonics?  Wow, didn’t that fad die about a decade or so ago, c. 2005?  But to take your question head on:  In my opinion, Ebonics was a defensive and reactionary response by Black racialists to promote self-worth through language within a context thought racially oppressive in all aspects of our country’s society, which of course is not the reality, never was, and never will be simply because we all share that thing called humanity.  Though perhaps well-intentioned, Ebonics baked in self-limiting and self-damaging effects.  Certainly, the effects linger today and seem what you are quick to rail against, right?

Now back to my model, Trump aside.  Got questions?

Starik
Starik

@EdJohnson @Starik Your model is short on practical solutions. Black English does exist, and it has consistent rules just like standard English, whatever you call it.  Shouldn't kids be taught in standard English?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@Starik


I asked if you had questions.  Apparently you misread my ask.  Anyway, my model is not a "solution" model and it's strange you would jump to saying it is when in fact it is a "Why" model, just as the cover page says.  Again, your misread.  Seems to me you might worry less about Black who don't speak standard English and worry more about your ability to read and comprehend standard English.