Just as a matter of professional interest, I've been paying a bit of attention to soon-to-be-President Trump's Cabinet appointees, particularly Education Secretary.
Betsy DeVos. To quote her bio on Wikipedia:
"DeVos is a prominent member of the Republican Party known for her advocacy of school choice, voucher programs, and ties to the Reformed Christian community."
She is probably a billionaire, or at least moves in billionaire circles, father-in-law one of the founders of Amway, not that such things would automatically be a problem.... however....
Some of her family connections are explained here.
She was recently grilled by the Senate as part of her confirmation hearing. Some of the proceedings are recounted here:
Now I know what some people are gonna say, so I will attempt to preempt it all by noting here that I'm aware that the Washington Post is a "liberal", "left-leaning", 'biased" media outlet (to quote some of the epithets I've heard about it). I think it tends to report stories in a fashion more like cheap tabloids than serious new outlets, but that doesn't mean the exchanges didn't take place or that Ms DeVos didn't say what she said. So if we could focus on those.... (keeping in mind that I can find many other sources that will also quote what she said...).
So it's worth reading the article with that in mind. Some highlights:
- Apparently schools need guns because at least one (in Wyoming) might need a gun to protect against grizzly bears.
- She doesn't seem to be aware of federal legislation that requires public schools to provide education and related resources to students with disabilities
- She wouldn't answer a question about whether all federally funded schools should be held to the same standards of accountability.
- She wouldn't commit to enforcing laws already on the books that attempt to protect students from fraudulent institutions (one example being Trump University. Trump has paid $25M to settle fraud claims related to that institution).
- Her personal history makes it pretty clear that she is a religious zealot and doesn't believe in the separation of church and state.
- Her plans don't seem to include concern with the achievement gap that begins in infancy. What's really odd is Ivanka Trump's child care proposal. Is the proposed Secretary not aware of this?
Some personal thoughts:
- I just can't imagine why there isn't much concern about schools becoming armed camps, with guns, security guards, metal detectors and such. Doesn't anyone see this as a problem?
- I have no objection to private schools, but I DO have a problem with them being funded by tax dollars, specifically for this reason: they don't have to accept every student who wants to attend there and they aren't mandated to provide services to everyone. You make private schools work within the same regulatory framework as public schools and then we'll talk about funding.
- Some individuals have suggested to me that public schools are merely indoctrination camps for young minds, bending those malleable brains to all sorts of liberal nonsense. I can make two points: First, I know, for a fact, that some of my former students aren't socialists, despite any attempts I (allegedly, as a teacher in a public school) might have made to turn them into such. So I question the ability of schools to do what they are being accused of. Second, I can also say that I was criticized personally by a Board member for "pushing my own opinion" on students. This was specifically connected to the topic of Acid Rain. You might remember back in those days when Ronald Reagan was supposedly quoted as blaming acid rain on pigeon poop? There was this story from the Orlando Sentinel. Sound familiar?
- It's worth noting that some of the worst-performing schools are in some of the poorest parts of America and that many of those parts are controlled by Republicans. I know that correlation doesn't equal causation, but it does make you wonder. And I'm not the only one who thinks like that....
- There are studies that show private schools don't have better achievement than public schools "when you take into account family resources, parental involvement, etc". If you cherry-pick your clientele, you can make it seem like your success is better, but I go back to my second point.
Anyhow, education. One thing (out of several, to be honest) that has the potential to lift people out of poverty and yet is targeted for budget cuts whenever governments (of a certain stripe) want to lower taxes for people who certainly don't need them and then find they have to cut spending to "balance the budget", don't 'cha know. Because we certainly wouldn't want education spending to put the country into debt, would we.
|Dick & Betsy DeVos|
I'm anticipating (perhaps not the best word to use) a train wreck with the Trump administration at the engine's throttle. If you don't agree, prove me wrong, don't just yell at me. Arm-waving proves nothing.
I guess if you want to drain the swamp, you have to be careful not to just drain it (and the alligators) right into the Oval Office.