Thursday, July 20, 2017

DeVos Updates


Today she's going to the ALEC annual meeting in Denver...except her name hasn't been on the agenda.  Wonder why.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is just the gift that keeps on giving.  Let's review.

However, ALEC has chosen to exclude her from its listing of conference speaker profiles.

DeVos’ name is also missing from ALEC”s conference agenda posted on its website.

Colorado Education Association members and others ...
Andy Cross, the Denver Post
Perhaps this is one means of ALEC’s trying to hide DeVos from expected protests for her presence there and involvement with ALEC. Nevertheless, her presence as a lunchtime speaker on July 20, 2017, has been confirmed by an ALEC spokesperson.
ALEC's thinking on public ed?
Instead of throwing more money at the problem, it’s time to let parents take back control over their children’s educations by allowing them to apply competitive pressure to schools and educational providers. Innovative, parent-empowering choices such as charter schools, voucher programs, tax credit scholarships, homeschool, and education savings accounts allow each child the opportunity to reach his or her potential. In higher education, greater transparency is needed to ensure that students and parents know what they are paying for, and with what prospects they are likely to graduate.
Instead of endless top-down mandates, these revolutionary inroads into the education system are coming from the states. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing charter schools to operate, while half the states have some form of private school choice program. The states should continue to expand parent choice and push educational institutions to compete with each other to provide the best product, just like providers of any other service.
Except that ALEC forgets one word - "public" before service for governmental entities.

This blog thread from noted ed writer, Mercedes Schneider, also highlights another issue for DeVos - she's getting sued by 19 attorneys general including our own Bob Ferguson:

DeVos is already on that one as she is stalling on instituting guidelines designed to hold accountable for-profit colleges and non-degree programs accountable. And she says she’ll be rewriting those rules. As a result of her actions, 19 attorneys general are suing her. 
Then there's Title IX enforcement where we see DeVos considering college men who believe they were falsely accused of rape as well as the woman DeVos has chosen to lead Title IX.  From the New York Times:
In recent years, on campus after campus, from the University of Virginia to Columbia University, from Duke to Stanford, higher education has been roiled by high-profile cases of sexual assault accusations. Now Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is stepping into that maelstrom. On Thursday, she will meet in private with women who say they were assaulted, accused students and their families, advocates for both sides and higher education officials, the first step in a contentious effort to re-examine policies of President Barack Obama, who made expansive use of his powers to investigate the way universities and colleges handle sexual violence.

In an interview previewing her plans, Ms. Jackson, who heads the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and organized Thursday’s sessions, made clear that she believes investigations under the 1972 law known as Title IX have gone deeply awry. A sexual assault survivor herself, she said she sees “a red flag that something’s not quite right” — and that the rights of accused students have too often been ignored.
Ms. Jackson would be Candace Jackson who said this:
Investigative processes have not been “fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student,” Ms. Jackson argued, and students have been branded rapists “when the facts just don’t back that up.” In most investigations, she said, there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”

Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” Ms. Jackson said.
Yes, Ms. Jackson had to walk those statements back but for someone who is an sexual assault survivor herself, it's just stunning to know she even said that out loud.
Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, which is suing the Department of Education to obtain records related to Title IX, said she was “worried that the department will turn into apologists for the sort of violence that happens on campus,” and that the Trump administration would “allow myths about rape to be perpetuated” — including, she said, “the whole idea that rape is just a drunken encounter gone wrong.”

Meanwhile, groups like Know Your IX, which teaches students their rights under the federal law, have been promoting a hashtag on Twitter, #DearBetsy, and asking people to post their personal stories about sexual assault on Twitter. Jessica Torres, a 27-year-old Democratic strategist, tweeted to Ms. DeVos that she had been raped as a student at Williams College.

“My concern is we’re going back to the years when women and queer students were absolutely terrified of coming forward,” Ms. Torres said in an interview.
But some measured and thoughtful words from The New Yorker:
To some in this polarized debate, however, “due process” can be a code for rape denial or upholding rape culture. Concern for fairness for the accused is often mistakenly conflated with implying that many rape accusations are false. Fairness is important regardless of the truth or the falsehood of allegations. It is unclear whether DeVos is equipped to make nuance stick in this debate, and to make fair treatment of all parties compatible with the responsibility of schools and government to address sexual assault.
I agree but I would also point out that women's stories about rape have been ignored and denied for many decades especially around college campus incidents that involved drinking.   And placing the blame on unwanted sexual advances that may lead to rape on the woman hardly seems balanced. 

Noted education writer Diane Ravitch lays a lot of the blame squarely at the feet of Democrats.  She's right.
But the resistance to DeVos obscured an inconvenient truth: Democrats have been promoting a conservative “school reform” agenda for the past three decades. Some did it because they fell for the myths of “accountability” and “choice” as magic bullets for better schools. Some did it because “choice” has centrist appeal. Others sold out public schools for campaign contributions from the charter industry and its Wall Street patrons.
Whatever the motivations, the upshot is clear: The Democratic Party has lost its way on public education. In a very real sense, Democrats paved the way for DeVos and her plans to privatize the school system.

The Obama years saw an epidemic of new charters, testing, school closings, and teacher firings.

It’s fitting that Trump and DeVos rely on the same language to tout their vision of reform. They’re essentially taking Obama’s formula one step further: expanding “choice” to include vouchers, so parents can use public funding to pay for private and religious schools. Democrats are up in arms about the privatization scheme, as they should be: It’s a disaster for public schools. But if they’re serious about being the party that treats public education as a cornerstone of democracy, they need to do more than grandstand about the consequences they helped bring about. They need to follow the money—their own campaign money, that is.

The agenda isn’t complicated.
  • Fight privatization of all kinds. 
  • Insist on an evidence-based debate about charter schools and vouchers. 
  • Abandon the obsession with testing. 
  • Fight for equitable funding, with public money flowing to the neediest schools. 
  • Acknowledge the importance of well-educated, professional teachers in every classroom.
There is already an education agenda that is good for children, good for educators, good for the nation, and good for the Democratic Party. It’s called good public schools for everyone. All Democrats have to do is to rediscover it.
Amen, Diane.

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