Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fighting Trump's Ed Secretary Nominee

Update from Politico:
Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions.

After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination — four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process.
end of update
Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions.
After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination — four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process.
Simply put, Betsy DeVos will be a disaster for American public education.  That Trump does not know near enough about the system, Common Core, etc. means that he would likely give free rein to whoever runs the Department of Education and that includes pushing charter schools and vouchers.


Luckily, Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris at the Network for Public Education have a toolkit to fight back.  I urge you to fight back because I think this is one fight we could win. (Yes, I know - she could be turned down by the Senate and someone else could come in but she's about the worst choice.)


Join Phase 1 of the NPE campaign to let your senators know they must vote "no" for Betsy DeVos. We now know that some Senators have grave doubts. It is our job to make those doubts grow into active resistance to DeVos. Our senators are in district offices from 12/17 – 1/2.  

 Senator Patty Murray's office
Senator Maria Cantwell's office

Toolkit 1. Call your senators’ offices. The toolkit with numbers and a phone script can be found here. It includes a link to phone numbers.
Toolkit 2. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. You can find a model here.
Toolkit 3. Visit your senators’ offices. If you cannot get an appointment, hand deliver a letter. Our toolkit, which you can find here has a model to use, and directions to find local offices. If you cannot hand deliver it, send your letter in the mail. 

One fascinating thing to watch is how ed reformers react.  On the one hand, DeVos loves charters and this voucher push could expand their empire.  However, it could also make it harder if more parents use those vouchers for private schools.  

Want to learn more about Trump's Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos?  Here you go:

-Washington Post
As a billionaire Republican power broker with no professional experience in schools, DeVos is an unconventional choice to lead the federal education bureaucracy.

Betsy DeVos is hardly a household name, but the Michigan billionaire and conservative activist has quietly helped change the education landscape in many states, spending millions of dollars in a successful push to expand voucher programs that give families taxpayer dollars to pay for private and religious schools.

She has said little about Common Core, for example, and her ties to organizations that support the K-12 academic standards — including as a board member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, started by former Florida governor Jeb Bush — raised concern for Trump supporters, who saw her nomination as a sign that the president-elect is wavering on his vehement opposition to the standards.
 - NY Times Op-Ed, Betsy DeVos and God's Plan for Schools
At the rightmost edge of the Christian conservative movement, there are those who dream of turning the United States into a Christian republic subject to “biblical laws.” In the unlikely figure of Donald J. Trump, they hope to have found their greatest champion yet. 
The DeVoses well understand that, stripped of specious language about reform and choice, such a plan for public education would be deeply unpopular. In 2002, Mr. DeVos Jr. advised a Heritage Foundation audience that “we need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities.”

The head of the presidential transition, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, is an avid voucher proponent. As governor of Indiana, he expanded a voucher program that now funnels $135 million a year to private schools, almost all of them religious.
- NY Times, DeVos and Michigan Public Schools
A believer in a freer market than even some free market economists would endorse, Ms. DeVos pushed back on any regulation as too much regulation. Charter schools should be allowed to operate as they wish; parents would judge with their feet.

She wrote a Detroit News op-ed arguing to “retire” Detroit Public Schools and “liberate all students” to use tax dollars to attend public or charter schools of their choice.

“If she was showing herself present in places and learning from the practitioners, that’s a fine combination,” Ms. Allen said. “But Betsy never showed up in Detroit. She was very eager to impose experimentation on students that she has not spent time with and children that she does not have consequence for.”

In the debate over Detroit schools, Republican lawmakers say, Ms. DeVos withheld her financial support until they agreed to kill the bill.  And they were rewarded well when they did: Ms. DeVos’s family began a flood of donations to Republicans that totaled $1.45 million in seven weeks.

With more than a dozen organizations issuing charters, it is hard for parents to get the information they need to inform their choices. And, in a city of 140 square miles, the highest-performing schools usually remain out of reach to the poorest students, because most schools do not offer transportation, and the city bus service is unreliable.

Most charters have failed to improve on the dismal performance of the traditional public schools. High-performing national charter networks have stayed away because of the instability of the market. The Walton Family Foundation, which has committed $1 billion over the next five years to expanding charters and choice, similarly withdrew its money from Detroit earlier this year.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I support vouchers. Go Trump

4ft Monster

Anonymous said...

4ft - send your kids to private school on your own dime.

-NoEntitlements

Mark Ahlness said...

Another thing to do is sign the petition asking members of the Senate Education Committee to block her nomination. It was started by a local (Mukilteo) teacher, Thom Garrard, has been circulated nationally, and has over 30,000 signatures.

Please sign and share:

Defend public education

Anonymous said...

Cheers to NoEntitlements! You hit the nail on the head!

- I pay two private school tuitions

Anonymous said...

Liberals crack me up, you write no entitlements, but why should people allow the government to take their money and provide no benefit for them.

The so called "one size" does not fit all when it come to education and this school district isn't working for many families, so why not allow charters and school vouchers?.

I like what Trump is saying about local control and ending common core for those who don't want it. I think it's worth a try out. If not vouchers then at least there should be local tax credits for those who are burdened with school tuition.

4ft Monster

Melissa Westbrook said...

I won't even engage here because the whole idea is so fraught with problems.

Anonymous said...

@MW

Really? Like the current system is just humming along. I can't think of the term, but you sure seem like one of those types that often switches positions just to argue. For example, if someone post a comment that's anti-board you will counter it even though you have recently made some very anti-board comments.


I'm taking liberty to accuse you of promoting a system in which thousands of children suffer an inadequate education and you're willing to bite off your own nose to do so.

SPS continues to do the same destructive things year after year and we foolishly expect different results. Even worst, after growing the size of the administration each and every year for 10 years straight not much has improved and in knowing all of this still for some unknown reason you advocate that every child must go down with the union controlled public educational system.

I don't think you're on the children's side based on many of your post.

To add insult to injury, every 2 years we change board members with hope only get burned and you're right there with your picks and hyperbole, but most of your picks don't deliver on their promises and you give them a free pass year after year.

What's the point? What say you?

4ft Monster

Melissa Westbrook said...

I say that I will be addressing some issues soon on the state of the district but I'm not going to take your bait.

Anonymous said...

Again--it would be interesting to see org charts lined up to compare what is important and how top heavy SPS is compared to surrounding districts. For example, where does Advanced Learning land on the org chart at all the Districts? And who has the authority over curriculum and instruction and how do they work with the capacity planning team?

Also, is the superintendent job available in Bellevue?

I like some of the members on our board, and they all work hard. Not sure they can fix the beast.

Culture Rules

Charlie Mas said...

4ft monster wrote:
"Liberals crack me up, you write no entitlements, but why should people allow the government to take their money and provide no benefit for them."

I don't think this is a conservative/liberal issue. All Americans support public education. Moreover, public schools provide tremendous benefit. To suggest that the schools "provide no benefit" is so absurd and false that the only result of the statement is to erode your credibility.

"The so called 'one size' does not fit all when it come to education and this school district isn't working for many families, so why not allow charters and school vouchers?."

Education, including public education is not "one size fits all". This is another false statement that makes the author appear dishonest or ignorant. Straw man arguments like these won't work. If the public schools are not working well for some families, then tell us how it's not working well for them and how it can be changed so that it will. In truth, Seattle Public Schools offers a lot of choice with option schools in every part of the district, Montessori programs, language immersion programs and more - not to mention all of the variety among and within the attendance area schools. It's not enough to proclaim that the district isn't working for people based entirely on anecdotal evidence when the data from surveys indicate very high satisfaction rates for Seattle teachers and schools.

Vouchers are a purely dumb idea. No one who has thought about vouchers for even twenty seconds would continue to support them. All vouchers do is transfer funds from the government to the pockets of private school families. The proponents of vouchers presume that a whole bunch of new private schools will pop up, but that's not going to happen. It costs a LOT of money to start a school. And that's not all; there are other significant barriers to entry. Let me remind you that there are, right now, wait lists at private schools. Which means that there is already an unmet demand for private schools and the invisible hand of the market hasn't created additional private school seats to meet that demand. Vouchers are a horrible idea.

Charter schools are a less horrible idea, but simply not an effective reform. They can't do anything that public schools can't do and they don't really do anything to increase choice. Charter schools only ever appear in urban areas and densely populated suburban areas that already offer a lot of choice. The students and families that don't have any choice are the ones living in rural areas where there is only one elementary, middle, and high school and the transportation to a neighboring district is a real barrier to choosing a different school. So charter schools only offer choice in areas that already have plenty of choice. Moreover, people don't need more choices, they need better choices and charter schools haven't shown that they are better.

"I like what Trump is saying about local control and ending common core for those who don't want it. I think it's worth a try out."

We HAVE local control of our schools. That's what school district provide. Ironically, that's lost with charter schools and vouchers that are part of large national organizations. As for common core, I seriously doubt that Mr. Trump even knows what it is. In fact, the bulk of people who oppose common core don't really know what it is. Consequently I don't take their opposition very seriously. Besides, the opposition is silly. Any state that wants to set their own educational Standards is free to do so. There is no federal mandate that state adopt the Common Core State Standards. It's like the people who fear the adoption of Sharia Law.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh look, "Voucher schools are exempt from fed IEP requirements for special needs. If you're learning disabled, you're out of luck."

Charlie Mas said...

I will leave it to Melissa to respond to the comment directed to her, but I will say that I enjoy the irony of someone using so much hyperbole when accusing someone else of hyperbole.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent post, Mr. Mas.
To reply to an earlier post, I have neither said that I was a liberal nor that I was burdened with the two private school tuition fees my family pays.

- Mustn't Project

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but next time before you respond you need to read through your own historical rants. I see that both bloggers here tend to switch positions on the state of the Seattle school district especially when it comes to HCC or AKA AL?

Everything is just peachy keen except for AL. Oh my God those poor AL souls are getting rail roaded...oh please. As for straw men, you're the frigging Scarecrow and you have a little dog, you know who.

Seriously dude on too many occasions you were out to destroy anyone who did not agree with your interpretation of HCC and what you claimed the district must provide according to your personal crusade. You are happy to have HCC groups pull off coup d'etats taking over whole buildings creating divisions between AL and non al parents.

In my opinion Seattle public schools have run amok and are not good stewards of property owners tax dollars and their same old game will not improve that.

It's time for a change. I will gladly accept a tax credit for outside services or private school expenses, if those credits come in the form of vouchers so be it.

4ft Monster

Melissa Westbrook said...

4Ft, you've made your point. If you have a new one, fine but otherwise, don't keep making the same point over and over.

Charlie Mas said...

Again, 4ft Monster, you make a lot of wild accusations without any evidence to support it.

I have certainly written rants, but I don't think I have ever switched positions on the state of Seattle Public Schools. The schools are, for the most part, very good. The central administration is deeply flawed. There are, however, people doing good work and bad work in both the schools and the central administration. The District, as a whole, suffers from a culture of lawlessness but I believe that nearly everyone in the district has good intentions. That's pretty much been my position from the start and pretty much remains my position.

It is a nuanced view that doesn't paint things either all one way or the other. The view that the District or the schools are all good or all bad is childish, foolish, and false.

The words you put in my mouth don't fit. They are nothing I have ever said or written and don't sound like anything I would ever say or write.

I won't apologize for writing strong words, but I don't attempt to destroy people. You need to learn the difference between people's ideas or their work and the people themselves. They are not one and the same. Just because I disagree with someone's view or critique their work doesn't mean that I don't like them or that I want them fired or dead. That's just more of your hyperbole. I'm not aware of any "coup d'etat" when HCC took over a whole building and I don't recall ever advocating for any such thing. The last time that happened was when John Stanford put HCC into Lowell. At the time, Lowell was an undersubscribed school in poor physical condition. All of the HCC changes since then have either been to shared spaces or empty buildings. I have never advocated any division between AL and non-AL families. In fact, I have always said that AL families want for their children the exact same thing that all families want.

Can you produce any real examples to support any of these accusations? I would be genuinely surprised if you could.

If you think that Seattle Public Schools have been poor stewards of public funds, then state how you think they misspent money and support that claim with some sort of evidence. It is not necessary to make ridiculous and over-reaching claims, just state your case.

I, for my part, think the district spends too much on a central office that suffers from mission creep and Parkinson's Law. I have long advocated for a superintendent with experience managing a professional staff to take charge, set a narrow mission for the central office, and enforce policy. In fact, I think I made exactly such a call just last week.

Despite the accusations of switching views on the district, I have actually been remarkably consistent in my view of the district. If I have to alternately defend it and accuse it, that's because I have to defend it from extremists like 4ft Monster who claim it "provides no value" and accuse it when talking to those who think everything is just peachy. The truth is in between.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you missed your calling as a lawyer.

"I have certainly written rants, but I don't think I have ever switched positions on the state of Seattle Public Schools. The schools are, for the most part, very good. The central administration is deeply flawed. There are, however, people doing good work and bad work in both the schools and the central administration. The District, as a whole, suffers from a culture of lawlessness but I believe that nearly everyone in the district has good intentions. That's pretty much been my position from the start and pretty much remains my position."

Just use google and search this blog and you will see your very own switcharoos.

Just admit it and move on. Trying to insulate your obvious intentions with non sequitur jargon only reinforces my point.

4ft Monster

Anonymous said...

So you can't actually post any examples 4ft Monster?

I don't support vouchers because I don't support my tax dollars going to religious organizations. I believe in separation of church and state.

HP

Charlie Mas said...

4ft Monster, surely you had some specific examples in mind when you wrote the comment. What were they?

And how would you suggest that I write a Google search for "switcheroo Charlie Mas"?

You made the claim, it's up to you to support it. It's your job to find the evidence to support your statement, not mine.

Oh... wait, I've just finished the google search and it came back with zero hits. Consequently I have never done a switcheroo. Now it has been conclusively proven that your accusation was baseless and without merit. Good thing I know how to prove a negative.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh, and 4ft Monster, you should just admit it and move on. Committing more logical fallacies, such as refusing to support your contention with evidence and expecting the opposition to prove a negative, only reinforces your dishonesty and the emptiness of your argument.

seattle citizen said...

Why are people expending so many words on the 4ft monster troll? Smh.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josh Hayes said...

Maybe the poor thing is paid piecework, so much for each troll comment. I'd hate to cut into its income. :-)

And Charlie, you left out "moving the goalposts", a popular troll technique!

But seattle citizen is right, as usual: time to stop feeding the troll.

Anonymous said...

What a DeVos future has in store for all of us:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38833-the-great-unwinding-of-public-education-detroit-and-devos

Privatization of all things public has slammed Detroit as gentrifying investors seek to put price tags on what was previously public domain. In predatory fashion, privatizers are targeting the city's struggling students as a new frontier for profit.

How weak and vulnerable is public education in Detroit? The Nation's Report Card, published by an independent federal commission, named Detroit Public Schools the country's "lowest-performing urban school district" in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2011, a Republican state legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder repealed a statewide cap on the number of Detroit charter schools. The floodgates were opened and privatizing predators rolled in.(more)

_McClureWatcher