The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education was a disaster. For public school advocates it might foreshadow a growing storm for many reasons.
Betsy DeVos is a divisive figure who showed that she not only has no background in education, she seems oblivious to the idea that there are federal statutes that are involved in education.
- She did not know what IDEA was – the Individuals With Disablilties Edcuation Act – and that it was a federal mandate that covers all schools.
- She did not know the difference between growth and proficiency when it came to student achievement.
- She would not commit to keeping from privatizing public schools.
- She talked about needing guns to defend schools from bears but would not back up “gun-free” zones in schools. Bears killed exactly zero students last year. She said that to Sen. Murphy from Connecticut, home of Sandy Hook
- She never really admitted to the fact that she and her family have contributed tens of millions of dollars to efforts to privatize public schools.
- She has not given over all documents for the ethics committee.
- 10 of the 12 Republicans on the HELP committee have received financial contributions from her.
- She smiled to damn much. It simply looked manufactured.
Below is a link to a Washington Post video entitled “6 head-scratching moments from Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing” which summarizes some of the more poignant moments of the hearing.
Take a look. And before you say that things were taken out of context and that they were all spurred by Democrats, remember that Sen. Lamar Alexander limited the time that questions could be asked. Sen. Lamar Alexander also gets contributions from DeVos. He as well as Sen. Lieberman couldn’t blow more manufactured sunshine or pile anymore manure on their words in praising DeVos.
Valerie Strauss, who runs the “Answer Sheet” blog for the Washington Post, had a very good posting today entitled “Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/01/18/six-astonishing-things-betsy-devos-said-and-refused-to-say-at-her-confirmation-hearing/?utm_term=.5149055709b1).
I regularly go to this blog. It is worth the read, and I admire the job Valerie Strauss does with it.
Strauss summarized with the following:
- “DeVos refused to agree with a Democrat that schools are no place for guns, citing one school that needs one to protect against grizzly bears. (She really said this.)
- DeVos seemed to have no understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, which requires public schools to provide free and appropriate education to all students with disabilities.
- DeVos refused to agree with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that all schools that receive public federal funds — traditional public, public charter or private schools that receive voucher money — should be held to the same standards of accountability.
- DeVos said she would review gainful employment regulations without committing to enforce them.
- DeVos appeared to have no idea what Franken was talking about when he referred to the accountability debate about whether to use test scores to measure student proficiency or student growth.
- DeVos did not answer Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) when he asked her what she had learned about the failures of the Detroit traditional public and public charter schools that would inform her decision-making as the secretary of education.
- And here’s a bonus: DeVos said her name should not have been included on tax forms for her mother’s foundation, which has contributed to controversial causes. The forms say that she was vice president and a member of the board.”
Those who may play devil’s advocate here may say that even presidents like Obama appointed people to posts who were cronies and or donors. And that is true. And Obama really didn’t help public education with Race To The Top or the selection of Duncan or King for the post; however, those people shine in comparison to DeVos.
DeVos doesn’t even speak the language of public schools. Arne Duncan and John King at least knew about public education.
DeVos seems to be completely removed from public education and she is to lead our public school system?
The irony here is too thick to even digest in a 180 day school year, but there is no doubt that DeVos simply got schooled yesterday at the hearing.
And learned absolutely nothing because you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make the horse drink it.
Even if it is smiling the whole time.