Betsy DeVos Confirmed U.S. Secretary of Education. Sad.
On February 7, 2017 Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie in the United State Senate to confirm Betsy DeVos as Donald Trump's Secretary of Education. Even though public objection to DeVos was unprecedented, fifty Republican Senators voted to confirm DeVos who is without question the least qualified of any candidate nominated to a cabinet position. Most likely this confirmation signals that Republicans will support Donald Trump no matter how outlandish his demands are.
Mike Pence breaks tie to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
Past Secretaries -- Not an Impressive Lot
The U.S. Department of Education is the agency of the federal government that establishes policy for and administers and coordinates most federal assistance to education. It assists the President in executing his education policies for the nation and in implementing laws enacted by Congress. The Department's mission is to serve America's students -- to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
Truth be told, this country has had many lousy candidates filling the role of Secretary of Education almost since it's creation during the Carter administration in 1979. William Bennett, Secretary under Ronald Reagan has become quite wealthy through his K-12 venture. Under Bill Clinton, Secretary Richard Riley opened the door to the likes of Teach for America, an astroturf organization that promotes the hiring of non-licensed personnel to serve as teachers for poor and minority students. While working under George W Bush, Secretary Rod Paige called teachers "terrorists," promoted KIPP charter schools, and championed the disastrous No Child Left Behind policy. Under President Obama, Arne Duncan, who despite testimony to the contrary was not an educator but appointed to his position because of his mother's adroit campaign fundraising ability, spear-headed competition between the states through Race to the Top and sanctioned the proliferation of high stakes testing. John King, another education poser, was groomed by billionaire reformers to further the influence of Common Core and Ed Tech in public schools. To say that most people who have filled the role of Secretary of Education did not have the best interest of children, teachers, and families at heart is an understatement. Adding Betsy DeVos to this list of opportunistic Secretaries should not be surprising except that the magnitude of her ignorance, indifference, and disregard for educating all children is unprecedented. She may be capable of doing irrepreparable damage to our children, schools, and democracy.
Let's Not Lose Sight of the Prize
Our friends at Schools Matter have devised a plan that we highly recommend. If only Ms. DeVos would have the good sense to follow the advice of real educators. This is what a quality education looks like. Reposted below is a summary of ideas that a great Secretary of Education might incorporate into her agenda. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Read the entire entry here: Help Wanted or Will Work for Real Results;
A group of ten souls will constitute a quorum, and upon reaching this number, the group will meet to elect officers, develop by-laws, and priortize a course of action to achieve these goals:
adequately and fairly funded public schools for every parent who wants them;
safe public schools administered and staffed by professionally prepared educators and support services professionals who are committed to supportive, challenging, economically-integrated, and humane schools that are open to all;
curricular, instructional, and assessment methods and content that reflect local values and priorities and that are enacted by elected school boards.
In order to achieve these three goals, basic changes are required as to the present conceptualization, prioritizing, and operations of schools that receive public dollars to operate:
all charter school expansion will be halted, and existing charter schools, whether non-profit or for-profit, will be closed as public schools re-integrate these students;
grouping of students in segregated classrooms, whether by ability, ethnicity, religion, sex, or sexual preference, will be discontinued;
all school voucher programs, regardless of the name used to disguise the intent of such programs to fund private or parochial schools, will be discontinued.
Standardized assessment of any kind whose results can be identified with individual students or teachers will no longer be required of school personnel or public school students;
All student educational or demographic data will remain the property of students and parents, and no student data of any kind will be gathered, stored, or shared among private entities, whether corporate or otherwise;
The use of technological devices and programs in schools will be determined by current pediatric medical standards and social science knowledge bases with regards child physical and mental development, child health, and child learning.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress will follow the long-ignored recommendations of national testing experts to establish cut scores that reflect realistic expectations and accomplishments by the nation's students.
All public school employees will be guaranteed representation from collective bargaining units and/or unions, with the stipulation that any such collective bargaining unit will agree to and abide by these principles and goals.