Tuesday, January 17, 2017

DeVos Hearings Start

Ms. DeVos' prepared remarks.  They include:
  • “Parents no longer believe that a one-size-fits-all model of learning meets the needs of every child, and they know other options exist, whether magnet, virtual, charter, home, religious, or any combination thereof.”
Of course not but I'm not sure most parents want to pay for someone's child to get religious training.
  • Our nation's schools are filled with talented, devoted professionals, who successfully meet the needs of many, many children.
Remember that one when Trump, et al go after teachers unions.  Teachers are the union.
  • For me, it's simple; I trust parents, and I believe in our children.
I'm not sure if that's simple or simplistic.

From NPR, 5 Things to Look for in Betsy DeVos Confirmation Hearing

From Politico - How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics
Thanks to the DeVoses, Michigan’s charter schools enjoy a virtually unregulated existence. Thanks to them, too, the center of the American automotive industry and birthplace of the modern labor movement is now a right-to-work state.

“The DeVos family has been far more successful not having the governor’s seat than if they had won it,” says Richard Czuba, the owner of the Glengariff Group, a bipartisan polling firm in Michigan. “They have, to some degree, created a shadow state party. And it’s been pretty darn effective.”  

In 2001, Betsy DeVos spoke at “The Gathering,” an annual meeting of some of America’s wealthiest Christians. There, she told her fellow believers about the animating force behind her education-reform campaigning, referencing the biblical battlefield where the Israelites fought the Philistines: “It goes back to what I mentioned, the concept of really being active in the Shephelah of our culture—to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things—in this case, the system of education in the country.”
On school choice (and a key issue about vouchers):
“When you really looked at it, the parents weren’t the ones with the choices; the parochial schools were the ones with the choices,” Matuzak remembers. “If all you do is transfer the money, you don't transfer any of the other requirements that are put on public schools. Public schools are required to take everyone who comes through the door. But private schools, parochial schools, get to pick and choose. … It’s not really the parents who have the choice, it’s the schools. And people ultimately understood that.”
On charters in Michigan:
The cap on the number of charter schools eliminated and attempts to provide public oversight have been defeated, making Michigan’s charters among the most-plentiful and least-regulated in the nation. About 80 percent of Michigan’s 300 publicly funded charters are operated by for-profit companies, more than any other state. This means that taxpayer dollars that would otherwise go to traditional public schools are instead used to buy supplies such as textbooks and desks that become private property. It is, essentially, a giant experiment in what happens when you shift resources away from public schools.
What she brings to the table:
It’s one thing to be an advocate and quite another to be a policymaker in a realm where you have little professional training or personal experience—a charge that DeVos’ opponents are quick to lob. If confirmed by the Senate, DeVos would be the first secretary of education in at least 30 years without any experience as a government official, school administrator or teacher. “She’s not someone with an education background—she never went to a public school, never sent a child to a public school,” 


Anonymous said...

States are free to serve all students per the protect of the Bill of rights and Constitution. Most states now have all the federal equal rights laws integrated in to there states laws. OSPI is very weak, in fact the most serious issues get addressed by the USDE OCR and not OSPI, this is embarrassing for our state. OSPI step up and do your jobs properly or close down. I believe OSPI is afraid of the states teacher unions and refuses to investigate and prosecute civil rights violations by teachers.

No problems

Melissa Westbrook said...

And yet this thread is about the federal secretary of education.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

It seems to me that Trump's draining the swamp means drain it, poke around to see what flops around and give it a job. The proposed sec of ed has an appaling record but coins to play

Charlie Mas said...

I cannot imagine five senators I would less like to face as a Republican nominee than Sanders, Warren, Murray (on education issues), Kaine, and Franken. They eviscerated Ms DeVos and revealed her as a dilettante and as crooked. So I have to wonder, were the questions fair?

When I consider it, I have to say that if I were asked those questions I would not find them tough nor would I find them unfair.

I could answer Senator Franken's question about assessment - whether we should assess for proficiency or assess for growth (Both, and other types of assessment as well. The real issue is the misuse of data from assessments and the misinterpretation of assessment results).

I could answer Senator Kaine's questions about accountability (equal standards of accountability for all types of schools receiving federal funds: accountable for financial transparency, accountable for outcomes, and accountable for compliance). In response to his other question, of course all schools receiving federal funds need to comply with IDEA.

She could have answered Senator Sanders' question directly by acknowledging that, like a lot of people with influence, the volume of her voice is the direct result of the privilege of her wealth. It's an indisputable fact and she should just own it. She could have gone on to say that she has chosen to dedicate her time, energy, and resources to education, rather than more self-serving causes.

She came off as weak because she didn't show any strength. She didn't show any courage for her convictions and present them unapologetically. Instead, she tried, without any success, to ooze past the questions. It was a dreadful display of evasion that showed her as someone who should never be entrusted with public office.

And yet it doesn't mean a thing because the Republicans on the committee and in the Senate will confirm her.

Anonymous said...

It looks like DeVos wants to help provide lower and middle class Seattlites an alternative to SPS. That sounds great to me.

The confirmation hearings are just political theater. She'll be confirmed with no problems.

I'm in

Anonymous said...

@I'm in, the problems with Ms DeVos go well beyond the political or philosophical. She's ignorant and incompetent and has spent little time educating herself on broad issues. She doesn't know the difference between growth and proficiency. She thinks guns should be allowed in schools for protection against grizzly bears. She's a stooge! Do you care so little about the education of our children that you think this is ok?

Anonymous said...


Do you care so little about the education of our children that you want to perpetuate a system that just isn't working? You think this is OK? How many years do people on this blog need to complain about SPS before they realize that the current system won't change voluntarily?

School districts that are meeting the needs of their students have nothing to fear from charters. To paraphrase our soon-to-be former President, if you like your school system you can keep it.

Bring on the charters.

I'm in

Anonymous said...

@I'm in,

Again, I'm not talking about philosophical differences period even excluding charter schools, vouchers, destruction of public unions Etc. She's incompetent. She has no idea what goes on in public education. She does not know what a ADA and IDEA require. Again, she's an unqualified idiot. She has no more business running the nation's public schools than your average reality show contestant. She might be qualified for consultation on the color of your nail polish. Not much more.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm in, you are wrong. Overall, the system works. You cannot deny that especially graduation rates climb.

What's wrong - obviously - are the schools with struggling students. What's wrong is that we live in a state where legislators care little for these students and ignore the rule of law (see Supreme Court) and do little to support student learning.

Go ask Tacoma how they like their charters. Charters help drain money from districts.

Also, that Sarah Palin moment for DeVos - her belief that guns are needed in Wyoming schools because of grizzlies was stunning.

Anonymous said...

I'm in-- The issue is that public schools have systematically being undermined and under funded. Public schools are the foundation of our democracy. For profit schools receiving public money will lead to far greater inequality in this country. Look at for profit non accredited no accountability colleges and their record of preying on the poor.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julia-meszaros/for-profit-colleges-maint_b_5788466.html

Anonymous said...


Do you really believe that giving more money to SPS will solve our problems? I agree that some of the increase would somehow make it through the multiple levels of bureaucracy, administrative overhead, personal incompetence, criminal behavior and ideologically driven special projects to actually help our kids, but don't think it would really solve our problems.

I guess we'll just agree to disagree. The Dems had their way the last 8 years. Now the other side gets a chance.

Bring on the charters.

I'm in

Charlie Mas said...

I'm in, you wrote that Seattle Public Schools isn't working.

By what measure is the district not working?

Seattle public school students exceed the state averages in pass rates on the state proficiency tests in nearly every subject and grade.

Every year, students leave Seattle public schools and go on to competitive universities.

Seattle Public Schools has a rising high school graduation rate while high school graduation requirements have never been higher.

By what measure is the district not working?

Anonymous said...


Measuring how "successful" a school, or school district, is is inherently an imprecise and subjective thing to do. You mention that SPS students exceed state averages in pass rates on the state proficiency tests in nearly every subject and grade. I agree that this is important, but would argue that these measures are not weighted by family wealth and parental education level. Those probably contribute more to the Seattle results than anything SPS does.

My focus is on a higher level, and more holistic question: Are Seattle's parents satisfied with the SPS system? The answer to this question is undoubtedly NO. Many young families move to the suburbs for "better schools". Roughly 30% of the kids that remain in Seattle attend private schools. The rest deal with SPS, and we hear what their parents think of SPS on this blog every day.

I agree that my way of "measuring" the success of SPS is as subjective and vague as yours.

Either way, it's a new day. Maybe it will be a good one, and maybe not. Time will tell.

Bring on the charters.

I'm in.

Po3 said...

I'm in--

You ready for religious-based schools to set up shop and take tax payers money with them in the form of vouchers? And then teach whatever they want?

Anonymous said...


I'm fine religious schools getting charter school funding. The Catholic schools in my neighborhood provide a better education than the SPS schools in my neighborhood, at a much lower cost per student served.

If you're concerned about the religious values those schools may embrace, I personally wouldn't agree with many of them either. That being said, I don't agree with many of the values espoused by my kids' SPS teachers, either.

Create a system that allows alternatives and then let parents make the right choice for their kids. How is that worse than being forced to participate in a government run monopoly that doesn't give a rip about your kids?

I'm in

Po3 said...

Well I'm in, looks like Devos is your person for the job.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Measuring how "successful" a school, or school district, is is inherently an imprecise and subjective thing to do."

I laughed at this. Yes, it's pretty tough but boy, that doesn't stop many, both liberal and conservative, from insisting it be done.

I'm in, if you believe Catholic schools do better, are your own children there. And that "lower cost?" I'll bet it's because they don't serve as many ELL and Sped and homeless students.

Again, choice is not all that it seems especially when the overwhelming majority of "choice" schools outside of regular public schools do not offer transportation. Poof! Gone.

Anonymous said...

The "successful school" is hard to measure because the success of students is hard to quantify but equally difficult is how much the school contributes to this success.

Genetics and outside school environment can hugely influence student performance, yet is largely ignored in the "quantifying of school success".

In NYC among the largest donors of the live theater are the actors, most of whom work for less than equity wages. The same could be said about the cost of most Catholic Schools, remember about 85% of school cost are wages.

About charter schools...

Many offer programs little different than public schools. There needs to be a larger emphasis on curriculum choice. -- I taught briefly at a charter in Los Angeles, that with top down decision-making adopted "Everyday Math" and "Connected Math" just like Seattle.

It would be interesting if the top-down decision-makers were ever held responsible for lousy choices.

--- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

About Charters and effect on total school performance.

Hard to miss that Arizona has a big emphasis on charter schools. Very hard to miss rising NAEP performance of AZ schools.

Arizona is NAEP value added champion

The above looks at change in NAEP scores for cohort from grade 4 to grade 8.

Big frustrations in many locations in our nation about gifted education actions.

Basis Charters in AZ provide an excellent education to very talented hard working students.

There are now 15 Basis Charter schools in AZ.

Basis School Curriculum

National Rankings

Basis Schools are for profit schools not non-profit.

Like many charters Basis tends to overwork employees with little compensation for extra work.

Because Basis are for profit you will not see them in WA State under current laws.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

If you do not like the education in the Seattle Public School system, leave. One can homeschool or apply to private school. We chose private school and make many sacrifices to do so. Charter schools are just publicly funded private schools that I refuse to pay for. Parenthood often requires tough choices and sacrifices. Make them.
Finally, if one thinks that they will be able to take a voucher and be accepted into, and fully cover private school tuition, you are misinformed. I personally know several families whose public school children could not pass the private school tests for admission. Unlike public school, private schools do not have to admit your child.


ck said...

I'm with Realist. I will fight hard to not have my tax money pay for religious education, even if my own kids would go to a religious school someday-separation of church and state needs to be maintained. My understanding is Republicans purport to value limited government and self-sufficiency-so they, in theory, shouldn't be asking the government/taxes to pay for their private school. If they act how they talk, I'd expect Republicans to make the necessary budgeting sacrifices themselves for private school, as I do.

Each state that handles charter schools does so differently. Have you looked into how Michigan is doing, since DeVos is instrumental in that state's management of charters? The record there is abysmal-even the charters there are mostly terrible because DeVos lobbies (and bullies) against any oversight of the charters. Any successes of other states' charter systems used in attempt to prop up Betsy DeVos don't apply. Look to what she's done in Michigan.

DuVos has no qualification to be head of any department, no matter if one likes her charter school ideas or not. Would you like some unqualified bozo doing your operation because he/she shares some common ideas with you, or someone with training and education as an MD to do it? DeVos is unqualified to run the Dept of Education-just as many of Trump's nominees are unqualified to run their proposed departments, except that they are Trump's uber-wealthy buddies. The "swamp" is growing exponentially. The outcomes are likely going to be similar to a non-MD attempting an operation-not so good.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm In wrote: "My focus is on a higher level, and more holistic question: Are Seattle's parents satisfied with the SPS system? The answer to this question is undoubtedly NO."

Actually, that's not right. Surveys have been done and Seattle's parents are very satisfied with their public schools and their public school teachers. They are less satisfied with the district, and, of course, the satisfaction rates are not 100%, but they are actually very good and not, as I'm In presumed (without data to support the claim), poor.

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