On Friday, newly christened U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent a, how shall I call it, awkward letter to all the education leaders of each state. Alarm bells went up immediately. Many people are scratching their heads about the missive dealing with state Every Student Succeeds Act implementation plans. The word “may” in relation to Title I, II, III, IV and V funding is the part that is confusing many. Is this Betsy’s way of phasing from Title funding to her school voucher plan? And how many enemies of modern-day accountability standards are equally confused about Betsy gutting the John King regulations from last fall? This could be a Trojan Horse leading to more Competency-Based Education. We all know CBE is a darling of the ed reformers these days. Read the below letter and sit and wonder like the rest of us! I have no doubt President Trump is clueless about any of this and is applying his next daily helping of orange glow.
The United States Senate deadlocked in a vote for Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education with a 50-50 tie. Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie, confirming Bad News Betsy as the next Secretary of Education in America. Now we recoup, focus, and battle. Hard. Fast. And Furious. She is going to unleash holy hell on public education. She who thinks grizzly bears can stop school shootings and IDEA is a state and local mandate. She who does not know the difference between growth and proficiency.
This is a billionaire. With no teaching experience whatsoever. She buys power and support and does nothing to earn it. Exactly what is wrong in education these days. We are about to enter an era of voucher hell which will only further segregate our schools. Hold on to your seats, this is going to be a very bumpy ride.
I salute Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) for their courage in voting no. It is horrifying to think that 50 Republican Senators put party lines over the best interest of children. But this is Trump’s world and we are just living in it…
*Please see below for a statement from Delaware Senator Brian Pettyjohn in regards to this letter.
This morning, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams published a letter from several state legislators around the country supporting Betsy DeVos in her nomination for the United States Secretary of Education. Senators Anthony DelCollo, Greg Lavelle, Ernie Lopez, Brian Pettyjohn, and Gary Simpson represented the Delaware contingent of these signatures. I am publicly asking these five Delaware Republican Senators to withdraw their support for Mrs. DeVos.
Last week, DeVos had her Senate Confirmation hearing. She did not know the difference between growth and proficiency. She supported guns in schools to prevent grizzly bear attacks. She stated when she was first nominated that she supported dismantling Common Core, but history with the DeVos Foundation suggests otherwise. She is a fervent supporter of school vouchers which have the strong potential to further issues of discrimination and segregation in American schools the way they are currently set up in many states. She supports charter schools which have not shown to be a greater success unless the pull smarter students in through selective enrollment preferences despite the legality of those preferences in many states. But most disappointing was DeVos inability to understand that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA, is a federal law, not a state and local law.
As a father of a student with disabilities, I was appalled when Betsy DeVos said this. The U.S. Secretary of Education is a person who leads all American students in public education. The last thing we need is someone who does not understand special education going into the job. DeVos is a billionaire but her ability to lead education in America is disturbing on many levels.
I have found myself in alignment with many bills that Pettyjohn and Lopez supported. They stood with parents during the opt out saga. They did not support the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Which is why I find their support of DeVos puzzling. Education has become synonymous with standardized testing. Students with disabilities do the poorest on these tests. But they are expected to show the most “growth” in state accountability systems. As a result, in my opinion, special education has become a gigantic mess. It is now geared more towards the student outcomes on these tests than accommodating the true needs of each individual student. If DeVos has her way, students with disabilities could be shuffled around different private schools through a very flawed school voucher system. Private schools are not obligated to follow federal special education law unless they receive federal education funds. Special education in public schools can be challenging enough, adding private schools to that mix with federal dollars could become a recipe for disaster for a population that is already marginalized to a great extent.
Once again, I urge these five Delaware Republican Senators to withdraw their support for Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. Our children deserve better. Students with disabilities deserve better. And my son deserves better.
**UPDATED**5:16pm: I spoke with Senator Pettyjohn about this issue shortly after I posted this article. He echoed the statement he made on Facebook, which said:
Kevin, I agreed to support Betsy DeVos for her nomination to lead the US Department of Education based on my belief that an outsider view of the US DOE is necessary. In previous statements, Ms. DeVos had indicated her disdain for the Department and it’s overburdensome policies and regulations toward states and local districts. I have, for some time, been critical of the federal intrusion into our classrooms, and prior to Ms. DeVos’ confirmation hearings, those were concerns that she had also viewed with a critical eye.
That being said, I do have concerns that have been brought to light since her confirmation hearings; especially concerning her stance on special education. While this is an issue that our United States Senators will be faced with in the coming days, I believe that the letter that was sent, which I agreed to sign before the confirmation hearings took place, will have relatively little impact on the decision that will ultimately be made on Capitol Hill.
That Senate Confirmation hearing took a lot of folks by surprise. In my eyes, it just proved that vast amounts of wealth does not always equal knowledge. DeVos will face a vote for her nomination next Tuesday, January 31st.
It’s real easy to play Monday morning quarterback after your team just took a huge hit. Donald Trump promised (and fooled) many citizens into thinking he could get rid of Common Core. So much so that his pick for Secretary of Education is now backtracking on her years of actions financially supporting Common Core. She sits on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. This foundation LOVES Common Core and all that comes with it. DeVos, through the Betsy and Steve DeVos Foundation, poured millions of dollars into pro-Common Core candidates.
On some Betsy DeVos Question and Answer website that sprung out of nowhere, she denounces Common Core. This website was created on 8/16/16, but her picture was just added this month. This isn’t some long-time website that shows the DeVos denunciation of Common Core. This website was created specifically for the possibility of a Trump win. Why would anyone put up a q and a website unless they knew what the opposition would immediately come out with? This is what she has to say about Common Core. Items in red are my response to that.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about Common Core. Can you provide some straight talk on this topic?
Certainly. I am not a supporter—period.
Financial support into candidates and states that support it IS supporting it.
I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.
State standards, as written in the Every Student Succeeds Act, are now state decisions. Trump couldn’t dump them if he tried. There is a big difference between state and local decisions. The states now call the shots on education. The locals are just along for the ride. Local control of education is a thing of the past.
Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.
I don’t even know what that means Betsy DeVos. Common Core wasn’t created because kids weren’t doing their homework. It was set up for a VERY specific reason which I will get to soon.
However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.
A very intentional federalized boondoggle where states gave up ALL control to the feds. Once the states adopted the standards, it didn’t end there. In came the standardized testing, the accountability game that judges failing schools based on those same tests, as well as the longitudinal data (which was the real purpose which I will also get to later) creation in every state to allow student data to go out. Once everything was set up in the states through Federal funds (most of which did not go to local schools but to state Departments of Education who paid education reform companies billions of dollars), then the reauthorization of ESEA came about. ESSA is the shift towards this future. Giving the illusion of state control based on federal mandates and snake-oil deals from the Obama administration.
Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.
Every single corporate education reformer says this, but being pro-school choice has not equated to greater educational improvement for children overall. Especially children that are minorities, low-income, English Language learners, and students with disabilities.
Betsy DeVos, through her foundation work for her own foundation as well as others, has been on of the biggest driving forces for the privatization of American public education. But why? Where is all of this going?
As I put up my post about DeVos selection for the U.S. Secretary of Education, I was met with an onslaught of comments stating she doesn’t support Common Core. Actions speak louder than words. I immediately directed readers to this excellent post showing how she DOES support Common Core and how. And then I wrote this:
To put this in a very easy way to understand, Common Core was created to train young minds for constant all-the-time digital learning. State assessments (based on Common Core) will become stealth assessments embedded in personalized learning/competency-based education environments. Once they bust the unions, traditional school districts will fall. Charters will go online. Our young kids will go to local non-profits to learn online while older kids learn online in a pay to earn environment through Charter Online Inc. Meanwhile, all this data from ed tech is tracking every student and whoring out their personal data and gearing them towards pre-determined professions that corporations want, not the kids. Who do you think will profit from this? Charters. Teachers will become glorified moderators while parents watch their rights slowly disappear. Their kids will go to community health-based centers for everything. This is the grand agenda. There is nothing Trump can do to stop it. Complete control over the future by corporations. Read into plans for Blockchain technology to see where all of this is going…. This has NEVER been about kids. It has always been about corporate profit.
We are now at a huge tipping point with public education. I’ve actually seen parents today, on anti-Common Core Facebook pages, actually trying to convince me DeVos is a good pick and to give her a chance. This is what the corporate education reformers do best. They pit people against each other. While everyone is arguing about this and that, they are getting things done. Planting seeds to get the whole thing done. They are the masters of distraction. Bill Gates is just one of them. Today, we saw another billionaire get the top education job in the country. With no background of ever being an educator. Do you really think it is a coincidence that the past three Secretaries of Education have been fervent supporters of school choice, charter schools, and “higher standards”? You can call Common Core whatever you want. But it is the same everywhere, in every state. It is just a vessel to much bigger plans, a complete and utter transformation of society where the top will always be on the top, but true choice and upward mobility for the rest will be on the bottom. It is central to destroying who we are as a nation. A nation of freedom and free will. That will be stripped from us, forever. We will become the cradle to grave workforce with the rich and elite overlords looking down upon us. The future generations of today’s rich and elite who use their money and influence to reshape society to their mold.
This was going to happen no matter who won the Presidency. Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein… it didn’t matter. Who do you really think is running the show? Politicians? No. It is corporations. Follow the money. Read the stuff that is coming out right now through ESSA. Sift through the smoke and open your eyes America. And act. Do something. They have you fooled. Everyone is going nuts about Trump, both sides. Love or hate. Meanwhile, no one is talking about the WOIA bills in every state. Or the ed tech invasion happening in your schools. Or the shift towards getting rid of number grades towards the same type of scores on standardized tests. How many states are developing “Pathways” programs which shift education towards a pre-determined career rather than moving on to college? Trump doesn’t matter. Not in the long run. Neither did Clinton. This was going to happen before your very eyes.
Do you hear anyone, aside from student privacy groups, demanding Trump restore FERPA to pre-2008 and 2011 levels? No. Do you hear anyone making a big deal about the Bill Gates driven work group that is deciding data sharing at ALL levels? No. Do you know why? Because they are distracting you. And they are succeeding.
Someone wrote to me on Facebook today that to change things would require a rebellion. That person wasn’t promoting it. I am. It is what we need. And it has to happen now. Please share this article. Spread it. Make sure people see it and see the truth about what is happening. The reformers will say I am a conspiracy theorist. I will gladly take that. Because this is a vast conspiracy that has been playing out for decades. And they aren’t done yet. Time for a rebellion.
Out of all the people President Donald Trump could have picked for the United States Secretary of Education, why did it have to be Betsy DeVos? She supports Common Core, hates teacher unions, loves school choice, vouchers, and more of the same corporate education reform crap we’ve had to deal with in education for the past 15 years. She supports Right To Work laws, which she helped get through in Michigan. Her family is the heir to the Amway Corporation. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation started their own charter school in 2014, the West Michigan Aviation Academy. That’s all we need, is one of… them. Someone with big money thinking school choice and vouchers are the answers to everything. So much for Trump’s promise to get rid of Common Core. He is a liar. But I am not shocked.
As for the unions, this is going to be a looooong four years for them. According to Detroit News :
Speaking in July during a school choice forum at the Republican National Convention in Ohio, DeVos accused teachers unions of holding back innovation in education and called them “a formidable foe” at both state and national levels.
Both NEA and AFT should have picked Bernie Sanders in their endorsement for President. They jumped on the Hillary train and look where they are now? If they thought they had a tough time under President Obama, they haven’t seen anything yet! I have no doubt there will be some serious meetings for both organizations in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, every charter school cheerleader is probably doing cartwheels alongside the private school voucher advocates. Public education will not know what hit them. Meanwhile, we have Diane Ravitch backtracking on an earlier article she put up this week where she actually endorsed DeVos. She thought people would see it as a joke, but apparently they didn’t. A little too late Diane! Thanks for that…