Thinking Citizen Blog — Friday is Education and Education Policy Day
Today’s Topic: Betsy DeVos: Hero or Villain?
Last time, Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education. Today, an assessment of the tenure of the highly controversial Betsy DeVos. No member of the Trump administration has been more demonized. The lead editorial in the January 3, 2021 edition of the New York Times was entitled “The Education Department Wreckage.” In it, DeVos is described as “perhaps the most disastrous leader in the Education Department’s history.” For the editors of the Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, she was the champion for the rights of poor children to a decent education against the entrenched interests of teachers unions and the misguided ideology of those who think that school discipline is a euphemism for systemic racism and that the problem is too much rather than too little discipline. Today, a presentation of both sides plus some background on DeVos. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
“THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT WRECKAGE” — (New York Times, 1/3/21)
1. “Her lack of vision has been apparent in a variety of contexts, but never more so than this fall when she told districts that were seeking guidance on how to operate during the coronavirus pandemic that it was not her responsibility to track school district infection rates or keep track of school reopening plans. This telling remark implies a vision of the Education Department as a mere bystander in a crisis that disrupted the lives of more than 50 million schoolchildren”
2. She “rolled back civil rights protections for minority children.”
3. “The DeVos administration sold out to predatory for-profit colleges and their various abettors within a nanosecond of taking office.”
NB: Other criticisms: has trampled on transgender rights and “wants more guns in schools.”
DUE PROCESS, SCHOOL DISCIPLINE, AND CHOICE (Wall Street Journal)
1. DeVos revoked an Obama administration policy that used any racial disparities in discipline as potential grounds for cutting off federal aid whether or not these disparities were justified by differences in behavior.
2. DeVos brought back due process to campus sexual assault cases.
3. DeVos supported charter schools as an alternative to failing inner city schools.
NB: And she reversed the Obama administration’s misguided assault on for-profit colleges that disproportionately serve minority communities with unmet educational needs.
BACKGROUND ON BETSY DEVOS
1. Confirmed by a vote of 51 to 50 with Mike Pence casting the deciding vote.
2. A strong believer in local control of schools and of limited government in general. “I fight against anyone who would have government be the parent to everyone.”
3. A billionaire, married to the CEO of Amway. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former Navy Seal, is the founder of Blackwater.
NB: From Detroit, she saw public school failure up close and personal. Twice in the last thirty years, Detroit’s schools have been taken over by the state (1999 and 2008).
My educational priorities can be found in my four education-related websites. See last four links below.
Click here for the last three years of posts arranged by theme:
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.