Third Party & Independents Archives

Senators Collins and Murkowski Betray Betsy DeVos

This Friday, before the dawn’s early light, the Senate voted to end debate and move to a final vote, scheduled for next week, on Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education. She is far from clear, however, on the path to obtaining a well deserved Cabinet position.

GOP Senators Collins from Maine, and Murkowski of Alaska's political family, will vote against her nomination when the final vote is held. Even if they did vote to end debate early Friday. Both, according to the Washington Free Beacon, have received campaign money from teacher's unions. Both are moderates on at least some social issues.

That means that Betsy DeVos' opponents - which mostly involves the education establishment and it's unbending support of failed public schools in places like Detroit - only need to flip one or two more GOP Senators in order to derail DeVos' nomination. And yes, Detroit is the battleground in this nomination fight, as its charter schools are mercilessly and often manipulatively attacked as a way to discredit DeVos herself. And to ensure the established order remains in control of education and unchallenged in its fundamental assumptions on how to educate children. Especially in America's inner cities.

But Detroit is more than a battleground over failing public schools. It's a metaphor for urban decline and local government intrusion that drives away business and jobs. Yes, it's also a metaphor for racial divides and the poverty that traps families and children in cycles of vanishing opportunity and rising crime.

But it is not prejudiced to ask whether public schools in Detroit are living up to their tasks. In Anna Amato's recent piece in Real Clear Education, she brings up two troubling stories. The first is a corruption scandal by principals in Detroit's public school system with kickbacks taken from vendors, that resulted in millions of dollars siphoned off that should have gone to educating kids.

The other is Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson's propensity to massage and omit facts that don't help his narrative of supposedly failing charter schools. Troubling because mainstream media use Henderson's manipulated numbers to justify their attacks on DeVos' work with charter schools. Especially in Detroit.

So the scandal in the mainstream media is that a (very low) percentage of Detroit charter schools have produced slightly poorer results compared to public schools, in areas like reading and math. Framed in a way that makes anyone supporting charter schools look like advocates of wrongheaded policies. Not that principals are stealing millions. Not that more than half of Detroit kids are now attending charter schools because their parents have decided that public schools are no longer preparing their children for a future career that will allow them to flourish. Not that the overwhelming majority of charter schools in Detroit (and elsewhere) produce much better results than public schools.

The education establishment wants to make sure that Betsy DeVos' nomination fails. So that their failed public schools system in places like Detroit, will remain unaccountable to local taxpayers and parents, (who usually are the same), and remain in the grip of public unions. Collins and Murkowski have sided with that establishment, and against parents of kids who only want a better education. Shame on them.

Oh, by the way. Detroit Free Press editor Stephen Henderson's own kids? They attend a charter school.

Posted by AllardK at February 3, 2017 4:25 PM
Comments
Comment #412911

She is a billionaire who married into Amway money and gave big campaign donations to Trump. That is virtually her only qualification.

DeVos humiliated herself. No one else did that to her. First, her one-on-one meetings with Senators went badly. Everyone shook their heads and rolled their eyes but did not say much. Then her confirmation hearing went badly, and there was no more pretending. She simply does not know what she is talking about. She is unaware of the basic issues confronting education today, such as growth versus proficiency.

She never attended a public school and neither did her children. She has never taught in one, she has no advanced degrees in education. In addition, she has never gone through the student loan process, never mind administering the large number of academic loans that go through the Department of Education.

To put into perspective just how bad this nominee is in comparison with others:

The GOP gave the nod to Dr. Ben Carson. He knows literally nothing about HUD or running a large organization. They passed him.

They may approve of Mnuchin for Treasury and Price for HHS. Mnuchin lied to Congress in his testimony about robo-signing checks, and failed to declare $95 million in assets kept overseas. Price, the worst of all, engaged in insider trading with health care stocks and then lied about it. That guy should be in jail!

And even they look better than the utterly hapless DeVos.

Posted by: phx8 at February 3, 2017 4:44 PM
Comment #412931

Once again more qualified people will easily argue against your poorly researched and pittifully written stance on a particular topic. She is as much a buffoon as Trump himself. As a Republican, I would be super embarassed by this attempted appointment. She is the most unqualified attempted appointee in history. Not even a cursory understanding of basic educational programs, laws and standards. Go Trump. Fucking idiots.

Posted by: Andre Hernandez at February 3, 2017 8:48 PM
Comment #412933

So what, Andre Hernandez?

Washington D.C. is not supposed to be running our public schools. Control of education at the federal level is not provided for in the constitution and is left to the states, or to the people.

It takes a village, not a nation.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 3, 2017 9:12 PM
Comment #412978

I guess no one wants to consider the illegality of the federal government’s involvement in education.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act have been in effect for over half a century, along with LBJ’s War on Poverty.

If these programs were heralded as cures to the “problems” facing an entire nation in 1965, why is it they are still consuming such a huge amount of energy and treasure today?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 5, 2017 3:21 PM
Comment #412979

WW,
There is nothing illegal in having the federal government involved with education.

The Constitution does a poor job of addressing the subject of education. The “general welfare” clause has been cited in favor of federal involvement, while the 10th amendment supports the idea that since it is not specifically enumerated, education reverts to the states.

At the time of he Constitution, legislation such as the Land Ordnance and Northwest Ordnance of 1785 & 1787 suggest the Founding Fathers assumed there would be federal involvement in education. It is curious that the authors of the Constitution more or less ignored education, which is odd, since education (along with research and development) is the most fundamental investment we make in our society. For George Washington, his own lack of a formal education was a constant source of insecurity. Alexander Hamilton, a teenage immigrant with no money, attended a few years after arriving in the US thanks to the generosity of some benefactors who recognized his genius, but his higher education was interrupted by the war. However, Washington & Hamilton were not involved in the authorship of the Constitution to the extent Jefferson, Madison, and others were involved. The Virginians were well educated aristocrats and slave owners, and they may have simply assumed their own education was normal, while education for negroes, women, and others was unthinkable.

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that universal, public education became the US standard, and it was not until the 20th century that educational opportunity was fully extended to negroes, women, and others.

In any event, today states & municipalities control most aspects of education. The federal government becomes involved in applying federal law & standards to the educations provided by states. For example, the federal government requires states to provide equal opportunity to all, which includes the handicapped and minorities. It also requires equal funding as part of that equal opportunity. The federal government provides loans for higher education, and in a related field, much of the country’s research and development happens in institutions of higher learning.

The fundamental problem with vouchers and charter schools is that they undermine the equality of economic opportunity for all. Private schools can deny admission to expensive students who might require TA’s or physical accommodations. They potentially draw away the best students and the healthiest students, or, in some parts of the country, the white students. This means the funding leaves the public schools and goes to the private ones. It is, in short, a vehicle for destroying public education. We accept without asking that the richest of the rich will send their children to private schools anyway and enjoy the benefits of the best educations possible.

Title IX is the crucial economic factor. If we observe Title IX, in the name of equal opportunity we may spend $50,000 mainstreaming a severely retarded child, while spending only $7,000 on the next Alexander Hamilton. Society clearly benefits more from reversing that social investment, yet who wants to argue for eugenics? Who wants to deny equality of opportunity?

Posted by: phx8 at February 5, 2017 4:12 PM
Comment #412980

There is no such thing as economic opportunity for all when the federal government is dictating the conditions of that opportunity.

The most recent intrusion by the federal government concerning student loans has resulted in ballooning student loan debt. First they decided there was a crisis, then they assumed control of student loans, then the crisis appeared.

I’ve never understood why a school must insist every school age person in a given area must be educated in the same building. Large schools are a target for opportunists, as we have seen. Large schools are unmanageable and allows anonymity of students in large student bodies. School boards are struggling with large class sizes yet insist every student from an ever increasingly larger and larger community be inserted into that classroom.

Why? I suggest it is government’s persistence to control education, instead of educating, that brings about these problems. The federal government is ill equipped to handle the day to day curriculum in any individual school. It should be up to the communities to determine how they will educate their children, not the federal government.

Do you really believe a school would leave a child in a wheelchair on the street if the federal government wasn’t looking over their shoulder?

Is there something fundamentally wrong with a school designed specifically for autistic children, or learning disabled children, or unruly children? Is there something fundamentally wrong with schools designed for gifted children?

If there should be equality in education it should be the equal opportunity for the individual to reach their potential as an individual, not hamstrung by the limitations of a group as they are now.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 5, 2017 8:39 PM
Comment #412992

How does the federal government administration of student loans contribute to the rising costs of education? If the federal government did not do it, the private sector would. The federal government can administer without the need to make a profit, so the interest rate is actually lower that way.

A couple factors drive increasing costs, including pensions. A big driver has been Title IX, which requires a lot of money be invested in the autistic, learning disabled, physically handicapped, and so on, in order to provide them with an equal opportunity.

Schools have the same economic problems as any business. It is more cost effective to have one property with a lot of students, than many smaller ones with also require duplicate personnel. Furthermore, parents of children with various challenges want their children to be ‘mainstreamed’ as much as possible, rather than shunted off into institutions because they are different.

It is not an easy problem. We need to invest in education, yet what is best for society- investing the most in the ones most likely to provide an economic return- is not necessarily what is best for us as compassionate human beings.

Posted by: phx8 at February 6, 2017 1:57 PM
Comment #413011
It is more cost effective to have one property with a lot of students, than many smaller ones with also require duplicate personnel.

I would agree with you if I were manufacturing a product. If I were manufacturing a product on a large scale I would want as much space as I needed.

One of problems I’ve been told of is one-on-one time with students. Teachers tell me they don’t have the time for it. There are too many students in his class room.

Students and parents complain about the amount of time spent on buses going to and from schools. Some must drive their own children to school. When I was a child I walked to school, because I could see it from my back yard. I was also in a school with an average of 15 students in each class. Many people have commented on my above average education compared to my peers in the public school system. I attribute that to the quality of education produced in a small environment where teachers have the one-on-one with students, everyone knows each other and form tight bonds.

I’ve also experienced the public school system in high school. The transition to that environment was painful. Moving from class to class with different students in each one. Making my way from classroom to classroom in a sea of flowing bodies was abnormal. It affected my ability to learn, socialize, and concentrate. I shudder to think those who spent their entire education in that type of environment and knows nothing of the benefits of the environment I experienced.

Remember Little Johnny, the kid who seems to be in every classroom in America? Let’s take a look at his environment and give him an alternative.

He takes the elevator to the ground floor of his building. He waits in the dark and the cold for his bus to pick him up. He’s on the bus for an hour and is let out at a school with thousands of other students. He migrates to his friends who have coalesced into a group for friendship and protection. He then is split apart into different rooms filled with people he doesn’t know. He spends 45 minutes with a teacher who hasn’t time to answer his questions. He is too embarrassed to single himself out for help in a room full of strangers. He then moves to another room, and another, and another until he gets back on his bus and takes another hour to get back to his building and on his elevator.

Little Johnny is 14 years old.

Now let’s see what could happen if the government hadn’t forced a monopoly of education onto Little Johnny.

Little Johnny stays in bed an hour longer. He rises and gathers himself. He walks down the hallway of his building meeting his neighbor and friend, his friend’s little sister, and the three other children on his floor. They all walk to the end of the hall and enter their classroom with Mrs. Smith, a qualified teacher. He learns his assignments and feeds the fish and returns home.

Who would be getting a better education in these two scenarios?


Posted by: Weary Willie at February 6, 2017 8:05 PM
Comment #413013

Another possibility I believe would greatly improve education is if large manufacturing plants included a learning environment for their employee’s children. Malls could include a learning environment for the employees of the different businesses. The cost of the environment would be absorbed into the business, the teacher would be considered another employee, the parent would know the child is safe and could enjoy breaks with them.

Why isn’t something like that possible?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 6, 2017 8:20 PM
Comment #413216

Weary, Are you really comfortable having a person without even a cursory understanding of education law. Educational standards. Testing and test score federal standards. State standards etc., fill this role. I hope not. We diagree on alot of issues. I get it. We dont share views on alot of subjects. Educating our. Our (americas) children? Really? Come on.

Posted by: Andre Hernandez at February 13, 2017 5:39 PM
Comment #413227

I don’t see the need for the department. I want to see it marginalized, if not eliminated. It is only 40 years old and has severely damaged the educational system in this country from it’s conception. Do you think the DOE has a right to exist? Do you think it should exist even to the point of counterproductive output?

The federal government could play a part in education by gathering information from other countries and introducing that information to the public involved in education across the country. The educators at the local level can decide if they want to teach the subject or not.

Do you seriously believe the education of children would collapse if the federal government wasn’t involved?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 13, 2017 9:50 PM
Comment #413243

Weary you can’t have it both ways. On the one hand you want, and I do to, small class sizes and smaller schools. ON the other hand you want to starve the beast of the ability to pay for the extra teachers and buildings and computers and specialized staff and maintenance and lights and heat and all other necessities that goes into running a school. Cutting taxes and supporting a bloated military means we can’t have smaller schools.

As long as we ignore the higher cost of living combined with lower wages for most Americans our education system will continue to suffer as will our kids and grand kids.

DeVos is the problem not the solution. Conservatives have been intentionally hurting our educational system for two reasons, one is teachers unions and two is they can not control or dictate religious activities in school. DeVos thinks she will get God back into schools and solve the problem, how foolish is that?

Posted by: j2t2 at February 14, 2017 11:48 AM
Comment #413269

Conservatism has been run out of our educational system.

A person teaching 10 students could teach with the same space and utilities they consume by themselves. I am not a teacher but I have 3 empty rooms with lights and heat that could be used as a classroom. It would cost nothing extra to allow a teacher to use them. A teacher with an extra room could do the same at their own home.

My neighbor is a teacher. He has a second teacher who shares his classroom. He told me of an instance where he said something that was totally factual and his peer objected. He told me she immediately, upon hearing him, shouted at him saying “You Can’t Say That! You Can’t Say That!”.

Do we have two teachers in each classroom to censor each other? Is the second teacher there to correct the first? What good does it do to contradict each other like that? Would one parent do that to another in front of their child?

Another teacher, who was telling me about his application for a position as a principal of a school told me teachers must consider every one of their students a potential murder when they do something like chew their Poptart into the shape of a gun. I asked him what harm did it do? He told me, “If we did nothing and that child murdered someone it would be our fault. What logic is being used to justify that chain of thought?

God needs to be considered, not ostracized. I fail to see the logic of promoting law after law to dictate behavior while ignoring the first 10 laws ever created. Those simple laws everyone could live by if they truly considered their meaning. Leftists who refuse to consider God’s message would rather kill the messenger than consider the value of the message. Remember the “God Is Dead!” headline some years ago? Wasn’t that about the same time the DOE was created?

The cost of living has been out of control since the 16th amendment and the Federal Reserve Act was enacted. If you are concerned with the cost of living and wages, examine the cost of inflation and fiat currency. It costs nothing but time to teach a person to read.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 14, 2017 5:09 PM
Comment #413272

I don’t understand how you can say

DeVos is the problem and not the solution.

She has not been in charge of the DOE for the last 40 years. Your statement is illogical. Your statement shows you are in favor of our failing educational system and resist any change to it. Why? Why would you support a failed system?

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 14, 2017 5:13 PM
Comment #413276

Why, in a “free society” can you be thrown in jail for not educating your child?

Why, in a “free society” is your child’s education dictated to you by an abstract federal government?

Why, in a “free society” does our federal government believe it can dictate things like the number and use of bathrooms in a school to parents and local school boards?

When answering these questions and many more, you’re going to come to a conclusion.

a. We’re not living in a “free society”.

Or,

b. The situations being defined by these questions are simply wrong.

Posted by: Weary Willie at February 14, 2017 5:34 PM
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