4 reasons Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education spells bad news for students

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by Brian Washington

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Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Betsy DeVos for Ed Secretary Click here ›

Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will get a hearing before senators this week (Wednesday, January 11th).

Let’s take a closer look at this surprising pick—a lobbyist and political donor with no education experience. DeVos has never served as a teacher, a school administrator, or a school board member.

DeVos’ track record of using millions of her own money to support for-profit charters and private-school voucher programs that divert taxpayer dollars away from public schools signals to parents and educators that they need to be on guard.

DeVos has been described as a “four-star general in the privatization movement.” Below are four reasons why.

1. DeVos has spent millions to promote school vouchers

DeVos and her husband, a member of the family that made its fortune selling Amway products, contributed millions of dollars to voucher campaigns across the country. In 2000, in their home state of Michigan, they spent $5 million on an unsuccessful bid to remove the state’s constitutional ban on vouchers. Sixty-eight percent of voters rejected the DeVos’ voucher scheme.

2. DeVos designed Detroit’s failed charter-school system

DeVos has been described as “one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system”—a system that even pro-charter forces describe as “one of the biggest school reform disasters in the country.” Charter schools are privately managed, taxpayer-funded schools exempted from some rules applicable to all other taxpayer-funded schools.

The unchecked growth of Detroit’s charters has outpaced the student population and is failing the city’s kids, who are among the poorest in the nation. According to a recent report, 8 in 10 charters had academic achievement below the state average in both reading and math.

The city’s glut of charters has also created a situation where the competition to recruit students—and the public dollars that follow them—is extremely intense. Charter companies have resorted to offering cash bonuses, laptops, and iPads to families to get students to enroll. Educators say the competition and the limited amount of resources available have created an environment where very few students can thrive.

3. DeVos supported legislation allowing failing charters to expand

In 2011, the DeVos family successfully lobbied to lift Detroit’s cap on charter schools and managed to kill off a provision that would have prevented failing charters from expanding. After the cap was lifted, several charter companies opened up new schools even though they already operated schools deemed to be failing.

4. DeVos opposes oversight for charters

In 2016, the Great Lakes Education Project, which is founded and funded by the DeVos family, was described as being instrumental in getting state politicians to kill a plan to create a citywide commission in Detroit to regulate the opening and closing of charter schools. City leaders said the commission would have provided oversight, set standards on how to open charters and close the bad ones.

TAKE ACTION: 

Contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to reject the DeVos nomination. Tell lawmakers that educators believe all students have the right to a public education that helps them reach their full potential, and their opportunity to succeed should not depend on winning a charter-school lottery, getting into a private school, or living in the right zip code. Our kids deserve the best America has to offer—including an education secretary who understands that all students deserve a quality public education.

Reader Comments

  1. Betsy DeVos should not be n for Education Secretary. She has no qualifications. But she is rich and
    contributed millions for Trump. She is trying to buy the job.
    I resent any of my tax dollars spent for any charter, private, or religious school. If someone wants a different
    school from public education then use your own money.

  2. Bob is on a rant. Hate speak without any rational basis for his responses. I have been an educator for 40 years. I have worked as a teacher in several states. There has always been a push in public education to educate “all” students. We cannot select our clients in public schools. All children deserve the best we can provide to make them productive citizens. Lining the pockets of “quick fix” proponents will never work for all students. Hard work, a true interest in the students we teach, no matter their background has and will always work.

  3. “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.” Noam Chomsky

  4. Anyone watch Ms Warren question DeVos on Tuesday evening? Very relevant questioning, like have you even run a bank managing a trillion dollar debt? how about a billion. Mr chairman we need more time for questions. Why aren’t people like Warren and Sanders and Franken just honest? Instead of wasting everyone’s time they should have said: Mr Chairman, I am going to vote thumbs down for DeVos so I will not waste anyone’s time asking moronic questions. No matter what she says, the teacher associations who support my political structure give me lots of dollars and they told me to ask embarrassing, stupid, immature, illogical questions. So, I guess I will act like an idiot and ask questions to which I have the answers, and other irrelevant stuff.

    1. MarineBob – Maybe you’re not paying attention b/c you’re too busy questioning the motives of the people grilling her. DeVos never went to a public school, or ever taught or worked in one. Her kids have never received a public school education or ever needed a student loan. She is uniquely UN-qualified to be Secretary of Education. What she does have is an agenda. It’s to privatize public education, promote vouchers, soften regulations against charters, and support the for-profit education industry. All these things will drain dollars from the public system and hurt poor kids. You know the kids I’m speaking of Bob, the same ones you’ll blame later on for being on welfare and in need of free health care.

      1. As a retired Michigan teacher let me add the following comments regarding charter schools in Michigan:
        1) Charter school teachers do not have to be “highly qualified” as defined under NO Child Left Behind, they are not required to follow State licencing and certification, these schools are not required to meet State standards and annual evaluation, or State program requirements and policies as their counterpart public school; 2) Testing shows that charter school students fall two to three years behind in reading, math and science compared to public school children; and finally, 3) The DeVos/Republican influence in MI has been purposely designed to destroy public school education for poor children in urban areas by diverting school funding to higher income communities with charter schools. A direct effort to keep poor minority children uneducated. The classroom teacher is not responsible for the destruction of public schools. It’s non-educators who are dictating the policies and funding that’s eroding the institution of public education.

        1. So, in Michigan, who is accepting those ‘non regulations’? The voters have control or do they just not care? Its is the fault of the politicians in power and the voters who keep them there

          1. Think about it Bob. The politicians in Michigan who made those decisions do not support public education nor do they care about the children of Detroit.

  5. A lot of teachers and other union people voted for Trump. Since you wanted him let his folks dismantle public education and all of you idiots can lose your job. You voted for him so time to face the consequences. I have no sympathies for you. In their future you will be moving to their trailer parks as they ones living there will no longer be able to live there.

    1. Well put, calling people with whom you disagree idiots. Seems we do not all think that rational thought is of importance. Are you really that rude? Idiots? God save the unions….. really? Trailer parks?

  6. How would you suggest we repay a 20 trillion dollar debt? I will take a guess that you think we need to increase taxes on business and high earners?

    1. MarineBob – How about high earners that pay a fair share and don’t end paying less than most middle class Americans? It wasn’t until Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 that the top tax rate dropped below 70%. Presently our tax rates are at historic lows. It’s time for some greater sacrifice from wealthiest Americans unlike your billionaires like Donald Trump who finagle paying no federal tax whatsoever.

        1. Since the advent of the Free Trade Agreements, the USA has lost 6 million family sustaining jobs (1970 until 2000), each one of which had a multiplying effect on their local communities prospects, not to mention local, state and federal income taxes, (42,000 manufacturing factories during GHW Bush’s 8 years alone were shuttered up), but when China joined the WTO in 2001 with MFN status, our offshoring of jobs went into high gear; even our jobs in Mexico left for China ($1.36/hr. some work for 30 cents/hr.) and our steady trade surpluses up until around 1974, climbed to $Half a TRILLION/yr. by 2003, and have not diminished. All in the name of “Supply-side Economics” (trickle-down). We’ve given supply side 30 years, and look at us! How about we return to “Demand-side Economics.” like we had after WWII until the early 70s?

  7. Why not? In 2008 a man was voted in as President of the U.S.A. whose only prior experience was that of a “Community Organizer”. You all know how that has turned out. The current state of affairs in our Public Education has been caused by our current administration along with big business. The only way to go is up, so give the lady a chance. She can’t do any worse.

    1. The current state of affairs is more because of No child left behind and no clear idea of what that ment. Devon style charter schools have already show what giving her a chance can do. Check out Michigan.

    2. Please check your facts. You don’t sound credible when you don’t know that Obama was a Senator from 2005 to 2008. You and I both need the best government representatives possible especially when it come to the training of our children. We need your help and your vote. We are all Americans.

      1. A do nothing, accomplish nothing senator. Oh wait, he took care of Chicago. Toughest gun laws around, highest gun murder rate.. huuummmm?

    3. Wow – you really haven’t read a newspaper in 10 years, have you? President Obama was a Constitutional Law Professor and a Senator. The fact that you didn’t know that means you are not interested in facts. You should be ashamed you didn’t know that. You are one of those who thinks your opinion overrides fact and that’s extremely dangerous. Do you also deny global warming because it’s January and it’s cold?

      You really think things are going to get better now? We now have a healthy economy (that was in the gutter 8 years ago and stock market that is at historic levels. Women and minority rights not quite equal but improving. LGTBQ rights improving. A President with intelligence, restraint, and compassion. You think you are going to top that? Good luck chump.

      We have a grossly unqualified racist heading into the White House who was supported by one in five Americans. His only qualification is being a reality TV star like Kim Kardashian. At least she hasn’t declared bankruptcy 6-7 times (I lost track) or cheated contractors out of money in order to make her millions. She’s more qualified than Donald.

      I think you are a bit out of touch with what progress really is. Perhaps you are one of the Trumpanzee racists who want to see us back in the good old days when women and minorities suffered more so you can feel better about your own failures. Sorry you failed but it’s not the fault of women, minorities or the incredible President Obama.

      We’ll see how great your life is with a sinking global economy, no health care, pollution and failing public schools. That’s appealing to you? You’re a special kind of stupid.

      1. Wow! Did you forget about OB’s love of American hating preachers (Recall the F… the USA speech at his so-called church) and being a community organizer? He is a world class sentence commuter. (Not sure if that’s correct usage but the idea is there)

    4. The best possible outcome is for the federal govmt to get out of the local issue of education. This woman will have the incentive to do that. Education issues are best decided by local government, not the feds.

      1. MarineBob – Getting the federal government out of the local issue of education is code language spoken by conservatives for “let’s further de-fund public education and screw poor and middle class Americans who can’t afford private school.” Don’t be fooled folks.

        1. I am going to let you in on a little secret: unlike so called progressives and liberal, sucking on the hind teat of taxpayer whiners, there is no code language in my comment. When I say get the government out of education, it means, get the federal government out of education issues. Let the local (state and municipal government) people take care of themselves. The federal government does not know what is best.

          1. MarineBob – Historically we’ve already seen how well the states and local control handle it. Read your history book for the 100 or so years following the Civil War. Wide ranging disparities in funding, quality + transportation for schools attended by the affluent versus poor and minority students particularly in southern states. Yes, the states have done a stellar job by themselves. 😉

    5. Point of correction: In 2008, the man who was voted in as POTUS was a Senator prior to becoming President. Not just a “community organizer” as you state.

  8. Would Trump hire an anti business activist with no experience in the business world to run one of his companies? Of course not. Yet that’s what he’s done in hiring an anti public school activist to run the federal involvement in education. We need to make this public.

  9. As a recently retired Ohio educator (35 years K-12), I would like to share the following: The incoming administration is again demonstrating the power of and the need to perpetuate the failed concept of the “Peter Principle” by allowing people, in this case, Betsy DeVoss, to rise to a level of sheer incompetency in the formation of OUR nation’s cabinet. Is this a pracitice that “Mr. Trump” has made a part of his brand’s business model? Certainly not. Then why would such an approach be appropriate for our nation’s greatest resource – the education of OUR nation’s students. In addition, where is the more than $5,000,000 in fines that her foundation supporting charter schools owes the State of Ohio for violation of Ohio campaign election laws from 10 years ago?

  10. As a recently retired Ohio educator (35 years K-12), I would like to share the following: The incoming administration is again demonstrating the power of and the need to perpetuate the failed concept of the “Peter Principle” by allowing people, in this case, Betsy DeVoss, to rise to a level of sheer incompetency in the formation of OUR nation’s cabinet. Is this a pracitice that “Mr. Trump” has made a part of his brand’s business model? Certainly not. Then why would such an approach be appropriate our nation’s greatest resource – the education of OUR nation’s students. In addition, where is the more than $5,000,000 in fines that her foundation supporting charter schools owes the State of Ohio for violation of Ohio campaign election laws from 10 years ago?

  11. Doesn’t sound like she has been successful with her current ideas and she needs to listen to other ideas that have been more successful. Teachers who work with the students are her best source then the living conditions of the children. I might suggest wearing uniforms where their would be no differences in what students have or don’t have. Lunches that they will eat. This might be a starting point. Teacher knowledge on reaching non English speaking students needs to be addressed. We need to make English our national language.

    1. There is absolutely no need to have teachers with ability to teach non English speakers. Read Teddy Roosevelt’s comments on the subject. No English = no American citizenship = no public school attendance.

  12. I have over 30 years experience teaching in the public schools of NC. Mrs. DeVos lacks the experience necessary to be the Sec. of Education. In Michigan charter schools, the model is purely a business model. The dollar being more important than the needs of the students. Tenure, which protects the free exchange of ideas and the teachers who express their opinions, would be lost and their jobs in danger. This concept of tenure is a critical issue in education and protects these ideas and opinion exchange. Schools are teaching institutions, a social institution, not business models. Determining what characterizes a good teacher is still an area of disagreement/confusion and is very difficult to measure. So many things that teachers do is not measureable. A statistical analysis of academic growth is a poor yardstick of success in the classroom.

  13. Trump’s nomination of B. DeVos is further proof that he and his fellow Republicans do not care about (and in his and DeVos’s case do not know personally) public education. Public education cannot and does not deny anyone access, unlike charter schools. I do not want my taxes going to for profit schools, which is what DeVos will definitely be pushing for more widely.

  14. Please, for the future of our children, do not allow Mrs. DeVos to become the Secretary of Education. Her record speaks volumes for the reason why.

  15. Please do not allow Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
    She has been a big supporter on Charter schools, which has been unsuccessful on the service of our students with very few exceptions.
    All of DeVos education work history has been proven to have very negative results on the education of our country.
    She has no experience as an educator to be holding such a position.
    I am a strong supporter on denying DeVos for Secretary of Education.

  16. We strongly oppose the nomination of Mrs. DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education as she lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to fulfill the requirements of a cabinet member. We certainly would not hire or want a bus driver to pilot our commercial jet, that would be dangerous! Please for the future of our students and country do not confirm Mrs. DeVos for the position of Secretary of Education.

    1. Why not? You voted in a “Community Organizer” to be President!!!! Not much experience there. The public schools are failing due to the interference of the present administration. At least give Mrs. DeVos a chance. She can’t do any worse.

      1. The problems in education go farther back than the current administration Jim. The problem is the constant change to the latest greatest new thing that will be the solution to this country’s education system. Teachers work their tails off adjusting constantly to some new thing and rarely if ever are truly given the time to perfect it. I will sound blunt but your argument is weak. No child left behind was not a big success >> my question is why does every state have to come up with a different plan? Because the Constitution mandates that each state gets to do its own thing wasting a ton of money & effort. It is time for a person who knows the ins & outs of education to be at the helm to be in charge of the improvement. A bipartisan representative of our children, educators, families & nation as a whole >> you’re sounding a bit “partisan” Jim so it’s difficult to fully embrace your argument for Betsy DeVos.

      2. Dear Jim,
        The decline in student performance in the classroom began long before President Obama took office. No one President can possibly and reasonably be held accountable for all of the numerous factors that have contributed to this decades-long change. Are we to hold every President during this time frame as equally responsible as you would President Obama? This decline in student preformance led to the different state-wide graduation testing initiatives that began to take shape in the late 1980’s and into the 1990’s, as well as, Common Core instruction, to help reverse this decline in student performance. I am a retired K-12 educator whose career spanned 35 years from 1979 to 2016.

      3. Exactly right! Obama proved that someone who has a hatred of his country and only a personal agenda to address can really do some damage. It will take generations to recover from his reckless spending and uncountable debt he has amassed for this nation.

        1. MarineBob – I guess you forgot Obama guided us through a massive economic downtown called the Great Recession we inherited from George Bush. During hard times, the Federal govt. tends to spend more money b/c belt tightening only tends to depress the economy further, a lesson we learned from the Great Depression. That’s why the deficit increased during the Obama years. Add to that, the conservative idea of tax cuts for the rich hasn’t proven to be an effective enough way to reduce deficits. Trickle down economics simply doesn’t work.

          1. How are you going to pay a 20 trillion dollar debt? Answer is, you aren’t. Your kids and grandchildren will be paying China for their entire lives.

            1. MarineBob – I hear a lot of disparagement coming from you but no solutions. Wasting money on building a border wall, erecting trade barriers, or further tax cuts for the rich certainly isn’t going to trim the deficit. Good luck trying to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, or the ACA.

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