Just When You Learn Rhee Won't be Secretary of Ed, Trump Goes One Worse

Trump has selected Betsy DeVos of Michigan as his pick for the next Secretary of Education.  Who is she?  Well, for one, not an educator. 

From Slate:
But DeVos, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, represents the most conservative corner of the movement. She and her husband have funded a series of efforts to turn public school funding into vouchers for students to attend private schools. They have also fought to prevent charter schools, including for-profit charter schools, from being more tightly regulated.
The DeVos appointment signals that Trump is serious about the $20 billion school voucher plan he rolled out on the campaign trail. The proposal would redirect huge swaths of the federal education budget away from school districts and toward low-income parents, allowing them to spend a voucher at a public or private school of their choice, potentially including for-profit, virtual, and religious schools.
From The Atlantic, Five Things to Know About Betsy DeVos, Trump's Pick for Education Secretary:
DeVos will push for school choice.  DeVos, who heads up the pro-charter and pro-school-voucher nonprofit American Federation for Children, has said parents should have the ability to choose the best schools for their children, whether they are traditional public schools, charters, or private schools. Trump has proposed creating a $20 billion federal voucher program for families to use to send their kids to the school of their choice. But, as Education Week noted recently, making that program a reality could be difficult. It’s unclear exactly where the funding would come from, and even if Congress did manage to pass such a proposal, some states currently prohibit funds from going to schools with religious affiliations, which could complicate how those funds are used.
Critics of the Common Core standards may have reason to worry.  While Trump repeatedly assailed the set of standards used in most states across the country, DeVos has been less clear about her stance on them.
 Expect deregulation to be a priority. According to Chalkbeat, DeVos’s family poured $1.45 million into an effort to prevent Michigan from adding oversight for charter schools. That effort ultimately failed. DeVos and her husband have been supporters of charter schools for decades and longtime opponents of regulation.
She’s politically active, but she doesn’t have a lot of political experience.
DeVos, 58, is married to Dick DeVos, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the governorship in Michigan. He is the former president of Amway, which his father co-founded, and of the Orlando Magic NBA team. Her brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater, the controversial security firm. The family has given to a number of conservative and Christian organizations. While Betsy DeVos has served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, much of her work has been at the state level, and she will now have to, as Chalkbeat wrote, “operate within a complicated web of interests and priorities, including with education officials in states that did not support Trump.” Her ability to navigate Washington is largely untested.
The reaction to her nomination is mixed.
DeVos’s selection as education secretary will please Republicans like Senator Lamar Alexander, who heads up the Senate’s education committee.
But teachers’ unions see her support of charter schools and vouchers as an affront to public education, something Randi Weingarten, the head of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, quickly made clear (in a tweet.)
. calls DeVos the "most ideological, anti-public education nominee" since the start of the Ed Dpt.
 From Diane Ravitch's blog from Mitchell Robinson:
Remember, Michigan is the state where the Governor poisoned the water in one of the city’s largest cities, and more than 400 days later has still refused to replace a single water pipe. And the state whose lawyers recently claimed–and I swear I’m not making this up–that the state’s children had no “fundamental right to literacy.”
I’m guessing that the leadership at Teach for America is practically salivating today.

For the rest of us, welcome to the Hunger Games of public education.
 Speaking of TFA, here's their statement on the appointment which is fairly mild.

From earlier this year in the New York Times, a story about charter schools in Michigan, A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift.

I want to interject here on two points that keep coming up about "choice."

One is the ed reform meme that zip code should not determine if your child attends a quality school.  I would agree with that but saying that choice will solve that is not necessarily true.  Choice does NOT equal quality.  

Two is the very simple point that if you underfund schools, then have more money leave because of charters and vouchers, you will destroy public education as we know it.  This is not "disruption" but a wholesale teardown of a vital institution.  And what would replace it? A hodge-podge of "choices."   And, you will STILL have people that may have no good choices. 
On the plus side, families like having choices. In cities with strong regulations on who can open a public charter school and how it operates, such as New York and Boston, school choice has driven achievement gains for kids. Some private school voucher programs have even produced mild reductions in the racial and socio-economic segregation of poor students of color.
Still, the potential downsides are significant. Recent studies of voucher programs in Louisiana and Ohio found that students who use vouchers to attend a private school score, on average, lower on standardized tests than demographically similar students who do not use vouchers. In New Orleans, two years after winning a private school voucher, the average student had lost 13 points of learning in math.
On vouchers:
The modest size of the voucher, about $5,500 in Louisiana, was not large enough to persuade the most exclusive private schools to accept a more challenging student population. Many of the private schools that did accept vouchers had experienced previous enrollment declines, indicating they were unpopular with parents who could afford to pay tuition on their own.

Trump’s voucher plan could be a windfall for companies hoping to make money from our public education system. To craft its education platform, the Trump campaign tapped Rob Goad, an aide to Republican Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana. Messer is a defender of the for-profit higher-education sector that President Obama fought to rein in. 

On K-12 issues, Messer introduced legislation known as Title I portability, which seems to have inspired Team Trump. It would redirect funding away from Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a piece of civil rights legislation championed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Currently, those billions flow exclusively to public schools that serve large percentages of poor children. The rationale, backed by decades of social science, is simple: It is most expensive and difficult to provide a quality education in environments of concentrated poverty, so schools that do so deserve extra federal support. The Messer plan would, instead, use Title I to provide individual families with vouchers. His proposal goes further than portability plans introduced by other Republicans, in that it would allow religious and private schools to participate, not just public charter schools.
Portability opens the door to for-profit schools, too, including the online-only virtual charter schools where, according to one large study, the average child learns far less than he or she would at a traditional brick-and-mortar school.
“Trump’s coalition is very much built around rural voters, and they don’t have charters or many private schools,” Harris says, because there are fewer school choices in regions with low population density. “So the online virtual piece is very likely to be part of this.”
How to get states to do this?
In his Cleveland speech, Trump said he hoped that states would also choose to voucherize their education funding, giving families up to $12,000 to spend per child. To encourage states to do that, Trump could follow President Obama’s lead and create an incentive. Obama’s signature education program, Race to the Top, gave extra federal dollars to states that agreed to a variety of reforms, most prominently, holding teachers accountable for student test scores. Trump could use a similar program design to push states to accept vouchers.


Josh Hayes said…
I hail from Michigan. The school system there was never stellar, but it has become almost Mississippian in its desperately awful state since the advent of aggressive "choice" regimes. Everything predicted by skeptics has come true: capable students and families flee to schools bulging at the seams with those students and leave all the challenging kids with difficult situations in the other schools. Cherry-picking to the max.

DeVos, of course, also has given tons of money to organizations bent on criminalizing homosexuality. A thoroughly repugnant individual, and one who shares Mr. Trump's evident gleeful ignorance about, well, pretty much everything. Yuck.
Josh Hayes said…
It sort of makes sense, though, because the Devos-funded Acton Institute argues for the abolition of child labor laws. It also suggests that mining would be an exciting life for poor kids. How you gonna get 'em back in the classroom after they've seen the mines, amirite?
dan dempsey said…
Worse than Rhee?

I am not sure about that. I need to find out more.

Here are her words on Common Core etc.
Anonymous said…
You do realize Trump plans on eliminating the USDOE, right?
What difference does it make who is in charge of a lame duck agency?

We here in WA it's the state that's responsible to educate children, not the federal government.

Po3 said…
About what I expected from the president-elect.
dan dempsey said…
Having taught in NV and AZ, I have concerns about charters. Among my concerns are teacher salaries and the enormous variation in school quality between one charter school and the next.

Overall AZ student test scores have risen a lot on NAEP along with greater school choice. ... Basis charters which are for profit are providing a high quality education to their clientele.

There is a lot to examine and watch really closely as whatever it is begins to unfold or NOT.
Realist, yes, I know that but I thought he would just start dismantling from the start (maybe DeVos is that agent.)
Anonymous said…
Maybe DFER will finally get embarrassed about who they are in bed with. And, I guess you have the DOE to make sure all your buddies get first crack at the ed market.

Chris S.
Josh Hayes said…
Lest you think I'm kidding, here's an entry from the "Acton Institute Power Blog" about how we should eliminate compulsory school attendance and let our urchins get to work at Chick-Fil-A now, presumably because that's where they're going to be working forever. Enjoy!
Anonymous said…
DeVos is also a creationist, hence the reason she loves vouchers so much. Get those public dollars flowing to religious schools! Boy oh boy, Trump has gathered the worst of the worst for his picks. Bush picked a lot of unqualified idiots for his positions, but Trump has trumped almost everything W did. Just needs a war & weapons of mass deception, and he's got him beat by a mile.

And no, DFER is not embarrassed about their bedfellows. Didn't happen when they ended up partnering with the swiftboaters in Massachusetts for Question 2, won't happen now. They LIKE DeVos.

We're screwed.

dan dempsey said…
Link to:

The Acton Institute for the study of Religion and Liberty

Betsy DeVos was a Board Member of the Acton Institute from 1995 to 2005.

From the Acton website:

“Great men are almost always bad men,” the British historian Lord Acton claimed. We do not have a political system in America today that fosters healthy competition, moral character, or true statesmen. Instead, we have a system that breeds distrust, envy, and division. From a republic that depended upon the health and vitality of families, churches, and various other forms of association, we have become a polity that encourages “great men” to rise up, make us grand promise, and perhaps even worse, attempt to begin to deliver on some of these through political means.
Somehow America has to find a way forward. Hopefully we can do so with fewer illusions about what we really are able to design and with better ideas about what is actually necessary for a free and virtuous society.
Watching said…
Chris Reykdal was quick to respond and he gets it right:

""We'll figure out which Donald Trump philosophy emerges: The candidate who wanted the smaller role for the feds or the transition team who wants a big aggressive school privatization agenda," Reykdal said.

He said states will have to decide whether to accept federal education policy in return for getting the money that goes along with it. Washington is struggling with how to adequately pay for education under a state court order. "


Here is a good article:

Anonymous said…
You have got to be kidding me, Reykdal needs to take a reality break and visit JSCEE just to see how F-ed up a well funded district can be. It sounds like he thinks Obooma's DE is fabulous. This guy is a smuck. The thing he doesn't understand is that the voucher system bypasses the state and the LEDs by granting the money straight to the student. There will be nothing for guys like Reykdal to think about.

Parents can use the money for educational expenses.

Home schooling
private schooling
special educational support

Goodbye Union
Lynn said…
Where is the federal government supposed to get the money to give each student in Washington $12,000? There are no private schools looking to serve a high poverty population in exchange for their Title I funds.
Anonymous said…
Title 1 is a scam milked by the Urban leagues of American. I won't get into the link between immigration and title 1 because someone might get triggered.

End PC
Anonymous said…
I'll be watching intently, Chris S. and CT, when you all get in bed with Trump against Common Core. Wonder what all those BATs are gonna say then. Will you all be embarrassed over your bedfellows? I guess you won't since you haven't been so far.

Anonymous said…

I hope you enjoy your Trump schools, I mean Charter schools. Given his track record for fraud and racketeering with his own university, its no wonder he supports corporate charters.

--WA Bat
Anonymous said…
I am afraid my prediction was correct. Trump is a business man and this represents more money to the corporate rich, a largely untapped market to exploit. The continued dismantling of our public education system, which has been the foundation of our democracy. My ed history professors warned us this was beginning to happen twenty years ago. The public K-12 education system a "new frontier" to be exploited for private corporate gain. Unfortunately the outcomes are not good for democracy and there are examples to prove it. A private education system, without accountability leads to a much more unequal education system than the public system we have today. I suggest people without opinions start reading education professors and historians materials on this issue. Disclaimer, I have a graduate degree in education.
-education degree
Anonymous said…
education degree, there are so many flaws and fallacies in your thinking, it's hard to know where to begin. But let's begin with your disclaimer --- you have a graduate degree in education. I have a graduate degree in education and over 30 years in public education, in one form or another. I can't go throughout my professional day without being surrounded by people with graduate degrees in education. And I can tell you --- the degree means very little these days, it's been so diluted. So if you're trying to convey that you have some unique wisdom to impart, check yourself. There's more people here on this blog without graduate degrees in education whose judgment on schools I'd trust over those with them.

Second, are you suggesting that our past public education system was an equal system? If so, you have no credibility. Ask the many parents on this blog whose children are in special education or highly capable programs. Ask poor families. Ask families of color. This public education system was designed to deliver unequal results and its been highly successful in doing so. Don't even get me started on equitable access. Public education in our country has been an unmitigated disaster at delivering equity for all students.

Third, education professors and historians have been some of the most monolithic thinkers I have ever encountered. Their biases in favor of maintaining the current system would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. In other fields such as hard sciences, business, engineering, etc., there are at least divergent opinions. Not so in schools of education.

But thanks for stopping by to school us from on high.

Disgusted said…
I appreciate education degree's comments.

It would seem to me that Common Core is now a state issue.

At some point, I hope Horace decides to stop attacking people and stick to the facts. His/her rhetoric is rather annoying.

Horace, you might want not just check yourself but maybe leave. Your remarks are mean-spirited and are not helping the conversation.

I'm not going to even start a dialog about the state of public education and what is to come if this is your tone.

Yep said…
I think Horace's tone is about the same as Charlie's. This is a case of "do as we say, not as we do."
CT said…
Sorry Horace, you are completely clueless in your "observations". While I may dislike Common Core, it is for different reasons that the anti-gov't right-wingers, and I would never support a racist, sexist, misogynist, xenophobic pig like Trump. I see common core as a much lesser issue than charter schools, vouchers, child labor, school privatization, etc. Take your inferences and stick them where the sun don't shine.
Yep, Charlie is blunt but Horace is unpleasant.
Yep said…
CTs response to Horace was also pleasant and mature. Clearly, only those who agree with your opinions can be crass while those who don't should take their opinions elsewhere.
Yep, you are right.

CT, not good. You need to watch your tone as well.
CT said…
Being accused of "getting in bed with Trump" was 1) uncalled for & 2) completely repulsive. This was less than 3 hours after having some drunk Trump supporter downtown in my face calling me several derogatory names for the sole crime of being female & walking on the sidewalk. Not taking kindly to Horace's insinuations nor the Trump fanatics tonight.

Anonymous said…
CT, what do you think "bedfellows" means? You suggest that DFER and Trump are bedfellows but when someone levels the same accusation at you, it's uncalled for and repulsive. Why was it OK for you but not for me?

Also, in terms of Melissa's tone policing, I've only been following the lead of Charlie, CT, et al who regularly spew vitriol and invective toward those with whom they disagree. But according to Melissa, that's just blunt talk. I'm unpleasant and need to leave.

The hypocrisy demonstrated here is stunning but not surprising. Yep hit the nail on the head. Melissa always excuses the behavior of those with whom she agrees and disparages the same behavior when shown by those whom she disagrees. Tribalism at its best!

Anonymous said…
"Second, are you suggesting that our past public education system was an equal system?"
No I am suggesting that there was a much more unequal system prior to the creation of a public education system in the US. Prior many kids did not attend school.

Everybody seems to have opinions on our public educational system whether they have studied the area or not. One thing that has changed over time is that public schools have been asked to do more. There is no doubt that public schools are offering more programs now than in the past. I do believe education historians and professors have alot to offer to the discussion. They have studied the issue, and I personally have respect for people with opinions who study a subject in its compexity.
-Education degree
Horace, nothing I say seems to please you so sure, you can leave.
Happy Thanksgiving! said…
Melissa runs an effective blog that won't allow Stand for Children, LEV and DFER from dominating the conversation and message.

I'm grateful!
Charlie Mas said…
Horace, I have read what you have written. You write that there are flaws and fallacies in education degree's comment, but you don't name any of them. I guess you're right in that you didn't know where to begin.

You began by suggesting some link between the commenter who signed "education degree" with the people with whom you work (and disrespect) who also have graduate degrees in education. There is no such link. The comment stands (or falls) on its own merit regardless of your opinion of other people with similar credentials.

You followed up this ad hominem attack with a straw man argument by asking "are you suggesting that our past public education system was an equal system?" There is no evidence of any such suggestion. The original statement was "A private education system, without accountability leads to a much more unequal education system than the public system we have today." There is no claim that the current system is particularly equitable, only that a more privatized system would be less so. You did not dispute this part of the comment, so I can only assume that if you find the current system unbearably inequitable, you would find the even less equitable privatized system to be that much worse. You sure sound argumentative for someone who shares education degree's desire for an equitable system.

Then you proclaim that education professors and historians suffer from group think - as if that reflected personally on the commenter or their professor, though, again, you don't offer an opposing view. In fact, your comment is almost entirely without a clear purpose other than to harangue the previous commenter even though, and this is the odd part, you claim to share their concerns for equity in the education system.

You close your arrogant and dismissive rant by accusing the other party of being high handed. I love the irony of that part. I guess we should thank you for your three proclamations from on high - 1) that graduate education degrees are "diluted" and worthless, 2) that the current public education system is inequitable, and 3) that there is little diversity of thought among academia in college education departments. So here you go: Thanks for the info, Horace. I can't imagine how we might otherwise have suspected any of those to be true.

That was sarcasm for those who have trouble detecting it.

If there were a flaw or a fallacy in education degree's comment, you never mentioned one. Instead, you made a comment that was lousy with flaws and fallacies for yourself.

And, just for the record, Horace, the difference between you and me is not tone or belligerence - I have no delusions that I sometimes take a harsh tone. The difference is that I directed my critique to your actual statements, not to you as a person and not to things that you did not say. You delivered your vitriol to education degree as a person and to things that education degree never asserted.

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