Today the Lefties are going nuts about the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to head the Education Department. They’ve even resorted to demonstrating in D.C. against her confirmation! Today these protestors initially blocked her from entering a D.C. elementary school. One “Black Lives Matter” demonstrator even blocked her car. They shouted “shame, shame” at DeVos as she went back to her vehicle. Why the clamor? For in-depth answers see my 5-part series on the current War underway in the U.S. That series starts here on dnewman.org Monday morning. But in the interim, here are some thoughts on this incident today:
There is big change that’s coming in the Education Department. It’s the change in the Education Department’s role. It’s not that DeVos and her team will play the Obama-era melody in a different key. It’s that they won’t being playing those tunes at all. During her confirmation process, DeVos promised time and again to shrink Uncle Sam’s impact on the nation’s schools — to devolve decisions back to states, communities, educators and parents. That’s in keeping with the mandate from Congress, which just over a year ago updated the major K-12 law to expressly limit the federal role in education. You would think that Americans who really care about public education in the U.S. — sincerely care, not just for political purposes — would find out in detail what the incoming head of the Education Department believes about public education and what she plans to do. What does she believe and hope for? Here you go:
She hopes to improve education by offering school choice, vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts. These are not new ideas. They are based on the principals of competition and free markets. She personally provided scholarships (or “vouchers”) to low-income families so that parents could send their kids to a better school. For over 28 years she actively sought to improve public education by offering her time, her fortune, and her talents. She made campaign contributions to politicians and she admits that she expected influence when she made those contributions. The influence that she desired was the influence to improve public education. She thinks teachers are underpaid and she has criticized Republicans for not working on that issue. She criticized Democrats for protecting the tenure of teachers at the expense of the children who had to suffer through a year of their bad teaching. So she wants to pay teachers more and she wants schools to have the ability to get rid of bad teachers.
She wants innovation in education. “We must open up education to entrepreneurs and innovators.” She sees charter schools as one way to innovate or to provide choice. She believes in local control. “The answer isn’t bigger government. The answer is local control.” She is not anti-common core. In fact, she was on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education board which supported the common core standards. Common core is not federally mandated, so she cannot repeal or enforce the standards, but she seems to want higher standards in general. Based on her philanthropic efforts, she seems to have a real compassion for children and a passion for higher quality education. Some of her critics may take comfort in the fact that she was a Trump critic and Rubio supporter (then Kasich) before she was asked to be in Trump’s cabinet.
There is no evidence to indicate that she intends to dismantle Title 1 (poverty), Title 9 (gender equality), IDEA (special needs), Pell Grants (college aid), or any other program that the department currently administers.
What’s wrong with DeVos serving as Superintendent of Education? I’m not sure if there even IS a reason for her NOT to…..nor is anyone else sure. She hasn’t done a thing yet! And as you see above, nothing she’s stated can disqualify her. The only negative anyone has legitimately offered as a possible disqualification is that she has not served in any capacity in a public school system. I doubt that I am alone in maintaining that I think this as a positive for her. The public education system is bloated at every level with administrative bureaucracies that exist primarily to guarantee bureacrats’ positions, pay, and teacher and administrator tenure in total disregard of job performance. The public education funding has doubled as public students’ educational achievements have plummeted. The bureaucratic answer? More money…as always. That answer is old and tired. And any who believe that will fix the problems are delusional.
“Insanity:” doing the same things again and again expecting different results. DeVos is NOT the same thing. And we should expect (and should receive) DIFFERENT results from this Superintendent of Education and public educational achievements for students in the U.S. To quote then candidate Donald Trump: “What do we stand to lose?”