Photo credit: Michael Vadon | Flickr

Born billionaire Betsy Devos has been trying to starve public education for decades and she's been extraordinarily successful at it. Her family's big money has enabled her to ram through her agenda in her home state of Michigan, leading to the biggest funding drop of all the fifty states over the last two decades with an explosion of for-profit charter schools that has helped make the state's schools the second most segregated in the nation, trailing only Mississippi.

As Secretary of Education, she's trying to bring this agenda to the nation, proposing budget cuts to education that were even too severe for a GOP Congress. While she's emboldened usurious lenders, she's abandoned the trans kids' basic rights and fought to make it easier for sexual predators get away with abuse.

Betsy DeVos taking over the Department of Education was the greatest victory for those who seek to starve and re-segregate our public schools. But it could also be its demise.

Help us fire Betsy DeVos and rebuild public education.

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Betsy DeVos doesn’t know what she doesn’t know about education

“Parents, by their very nature, should decide what, when, where and how their children learn,” DeVos said.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is at it again. Currently on her second “Rethink Schools” tour, “DeVos will swing by four states: Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.”

Two tours of public schools in two years on the job–the poor woman must be exhausted.

And while Ms. DeVos has a few ideas for how we could “improve” education in this country (i.e., school choice, vouchers, charter schools, arming teachers, grizzly bear security guards…), most of her ideas have more to do with dismantling our public schools, lowering or eliminating standards for entry to the teaching profession, busting the unions that protect those demoralized and attacked teachers, and removing the regulations that protect victims of sexual assault on college campuses.

But even amidst the barren, dystopian landscape of Ms. DeVos’ vision of American education, the quote above somehow caught my eye. You have to give it to her: Betsy has a real knack for distilling complicated, complex problems down into a single ignorant, nonsensical nugget of edu-drivel.

And she’s just clever enough to remember who her audience is here–and it’s not teachers, or teacher educators, or the 75+% of parents who are happy with their kids’ schools. No, her audience is the conservative base who believe that nothing public is better than anything private, who refer to public schools as “government schools,” and believe that paying even a single dollar in taxes is a form of robbery.

Her quote above is one of those throwaway lines that makes you feel good when you say it, but means roughly…nothing.

Look, I’ve got more education degrees than it makes logical sense for any person to have, and I have absolutely no idea “what” my kids should learn in math, science, or reading, or “when” they should learn it. But their math, science, and reading teachers do. Because they’ve studied both their subject matter, and how children learn, and are experts in determining the “what’s” of education–and if Ms. DeVos trusted them to do their jobs, they could do those jobs even better.

As for the ”where”, we parents already have the ability to decide that, and have for years. In Michigan, that includes the state’s “Schools of Choice” policy that allows parents to send their children to any public school in their area. Or private schools. Or charter schools. Or religious schools.

But that’s not what Betsy really means here—she means that your public tax dollars should be used to pay for somebody else’s kid to attend St. Betsy’s or the Dick DeVos School of Plane Flying or the Amway Academy of Over-Priced Toiletries. And even the Republican Congress thinks that’s a crappy idea.

With respect to the “how”…well, all I’ve got to say is that it takes a yacht-load of chutzpah for a person who has never set foot in a public school to start making snotty remarks about the pedagogical practices of professional educators who have forgotten more about teaching before breakfast than she’s ever known. Her comments here are not only misinformed, but are profoundly disappointing coming from the–alleged–leader of our country’s public schools.

The bottom line is that my job as a parent is to make sure my kids are fed, clothed, sheltered, and loved, and then to support their teachers as they do nothing short of heroic work while arrogant, ignorant dilettantes like Ms. DeVos treat them with scorn and derision while slashing school funding and instituting draconian education policies.

I guess I had something more to say after all.

[CC image credit: Keith A. Almli | Wikimedia Commons]

 
 
 

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