Betsy DeVos at Education DepartmentDec 22 2016
DeVos, a long time advocate of vouchers and charter schools, presumably will champion the conservative desire to make free choice of schooling the norm. This would bring a complete reorientation to the Education Department. The mission would no longer be support of public education, if Ms DeVos has her way. It is notable that DeVos, a billionaire, has never attended a public school.
In her home state of Michigan, she has lobbied for parents to be able to use public education funds to pay for schools of their choice. It is an understandable response to a public school system that is a national disgrace in the unending grip of the teachers' union that has resolutely fought merit pay, the dismissal of poor teachers, and every new educational approach all at the expense of students and to the detriment of the nation's international standings. What's different in DeVos's campaign is that she has advocated not just for charter schools, which are independent but funded with public education money, but wants funding to go to for-profit charters and even parochial schools, the latter crossing the line between church and state. The effect is to drain funds away from the always strapped public school system. Just as with for-profit colleges, we would see private equity funds and corporations chase public dollars with money siphoned off for more costly administrators and advertising to attract students.
Her work has not even gone well in her home state of Michigan. The Washington Post calls her a "force behind the spread of charter schools… most of which have recorded student test scores in reading and math below the state average". This piece from the Detroit Free Press takes a closer look and concludes the same.
The Common Core movement has marched alongside the charter movement, setting standards to elevate K-12 education, and DeVos has apparently been an advocate. But like Obamacare, carbon regulation, overtime pay and most everything Washington, conservatives want Common Core demolished, even though states are free to adopt or ignore its curriculum standards. So to get Trump's nod we see DeVos as turncoat, saying at Donald Trump's victory rally in Grand Rapids, “It’s time to make education great again in this country...finally putting an end to the federal Common Core”. Is "federal" a hedge? Not according to a website she immediately launched her appointment where she says, "Certainly. I am not a supporter” of Common Core. “Period.”
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