With all due respect, I don’t understand why you’re so worked up about Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education.
The two criticisms of Betsy DeVos I’ve heard are:
- She doesn’t have lots of experience with public schools.
- She wants to privatize them. (Charter schools, voucher systems, etc.)
But the “arguments” from her critics may not be this clear.
(I boiled them down and numbered them because I love my readers and wish to spare them the agonizing, eyeball-gouging research I’ve had to do the last few days…)
Everywhere I looked, people cited these two, basic problems with DeVos. But they colored their opinion with additional phrases like:
-“Billionaire charter school mega-donor”
-“Anti-Union, Pro-voucher nominee”
-and “for-profit businesses!!!!”
Profit, profit, profit.
Those words get stuck to DeVos like spitballs.
I’m not sure precisely when it happened–but, at some point, Americans started using the term “non-profit” to mean “Good Guys,” while the term “for-profit” means “Bad Guys.”
And, if you don’t believe me, just look how many people are suggesting DeVos is wrong for this job, using nothing but buzzwords.
Here is Mother Jones (a non-profit, by the way)–trying to describe why charter schools are bad:
“Michigan serves as one of the most prominent examples of what aggressive DeVos-style school choice policies look like on the ground, especially when it comes to the expansion of charter schools. About 80 percent of state charter schools are run by for-profit management companies, a much higher share than anywhere else in the country, and with very little oversight from the state…”
So, there we have the obligatory reference to “profit.” (How terrible!)
And then, Mother Jones goes on to say:
“Detroit, in particular, provides a cautionary tale of how the proliferation of charter schools without sufficient regulations hurts student achievement. Detroit’s public school test scores in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have remained the worst among large cities since 2009.”
Maybe those test scores seem pretty damning to you, Reader.
(Side note: I personally wouldn’t move my kids to Detroit and trust any of the schools there, even if you paid me half of Mrs. DeVos’ billion dollars.)
But, if you’re a teacher who hates DeVos, and you’re citing achievement test scores as proof that her charter schools don’t work, then that is the HIGHEST form of hypocrisy!
Seriously, I’m a little shocked about the dishonesty.
Teachers have been complaining for years that their hands are tied by too much government regulation. They have too many programs being written by politicians with no experience. And they’re being forced to test their kids to death, even though testing is a “toxic, destructive element in our classrooms that interferes with our ability to deliver real education.”
“[Standardized testing] is detrimental to our students. And it is used in many places to deliver a professional verdict on our schools and ourselves with an accuracy no greater than a roll of the dice.”
And, in case you missed it, here is a different article arguing that standardized testing isn’t a good way to evaluate the performance of teachers.
Would someone like to explain to me why they’re using those awful, toxic, inaccurate tests to point fingers at Detroit’s charter schools?
No, probably not.
So I’ll just keep talking to myself.
If we want less regulation and less standardized testing in our classrooms (and we DO!) then shouldn’t we be optimistic about the appointment of DeVos as Secretary of Education?
She wants–or at least says she wants–to put the power back in the hands of the local communities, to decide how to teach and evaluate their own students.
Why do we hate her so much?
Why is government oversight considered “hand-tying” when it’s done to public school teachers, but it’s simply “accountability” when directed at charter and home schools?
Good grief. It’s inconsistencies like this which are causing many Americans to see DeVos’ “inexperience” in public schools as a GOOD thing.
Meanwhile, she has lots of experience in education, if you count private and charter schools.
It seems as if Betsy DeVos is being tested and judged harshly by people who haven’t ever experienced a charter school classroom. Do you sympathize, Educators?…
It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it?
So, what am I missing?
Oh, right…right, right, right. The “profit” thing. Let me address that quickly, too.
We’ve been fed a lie that says doing something “for profit” makes it evil, while doing it “for free” is noble and beautiful. (By the way, if that’s true, then you ought to LOVE DeVos. She plans to refuse a salary… which is about $2 million dollars less than Obama’s Education Secretary.)
But I don’t believe “for-profit” is bad.
In fact, I think literally everything we do should be “for profit.”
I have a private school in my home, with very little state oversight, and I profit from it every day. I profit when my kids learn something they’ve been struggling with. I profit when I grow more patient each day. And I look forward to profiting, when I get to launch these kids into the world as problem-solvers who pour love and wisdom into their communities, rather than leaches.
Money is how we convince a stranger to care about our family’s “profit,” when they don’t love our kids like we do.
It’s just another form of currency.
Regarding profit/non-profit school management systems, there’s really only one, main difference between the private school in my home and the public one across the street.
My household puts money into the government; the public school takes it out.
A for-profit management company means it is tax-paying.
A non-profit management company means it is tax-exempt.
Profit is just a word that means “good thing.”
So, anyway, I’d be more than happy to hear arguments against the appointment of Betsy DeVos, if I missed something important. I have no problem admitting she’s a bad choice, if she is. (She’s not my BFF.)
But, it’s going to be hard to argue that charter and private schools are failing, without admitting that public schools are failing, too.
Just remember: it’s easy to rip apart someone’s bad idea. It’s not so easy to come up with a good one of your own.
If not private school choice, then what?
If not Betsy DeVos, then who?