Trump’s Betsy DeVos destruction of education

This video from the USA says about itself:

Rep. Maxine Waters: DeVos is a Billionaire Wannabe Teacher Who Doesn’t Care About Public Education

7 February 2017

The Senate is scheduled to hold a full vote today on the confirmation of Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos. DeVos is perhaps Trump’s most contested pick among a group of controversial Cabinet nominees. DeVos is a longtime backer of charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools. She and her husband have also invested in a student debt collection agency that does business with the Education Department.

On Monday, Senate Democrats took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to begin a 24-hour protest opposing DeVos. Last week, two Republican lawmakers, Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, announced plans to vote against DeVos, leaving Senate Republicans one vote short of confirming her. If the Senate vote is 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence would then cast the deciding vote—an event that has never happened to any other presidential nominee in history. We speak to Democratic Congressmember Maxine Waters of California.

Today in the USA: Betsy DeVos Ekes Out Confirmation As VP Casts First Tie-Breaker For Cabinet Post. Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary ― the first time a vice president’s tie-breaking vote has been used for a Cabinet confirmation: here.

Billionaire Betsy DeVos was confirmed as secretary of education by vote of 51 to 50 in the Senate Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, marking the first time in US history that such a vote was necessary to confirm a cabinet secretary: here.

By Nancy Hanover in the USA:

DeVos plans to “rewrite the education playbook for America”
Half of Detroit’s public schools targeted for closure

7 February 2017

As the US Senate prepares to vote on the nomination of right-wing billionaire Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, her war against public education is coming to fruition in Detroit, the poorest big city in America.

Michigan’s State Reform Office (SRO) has released a list of 38 schools slated to be closed as early as June 30 for “non-performance.” It is the first use of a 2009 state law, heavily promoted by DeVos and her pro-privatization lobbying group, Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), to shut down public schools.

Another 35 schools are targeted on a second list for state intervention and possible closure in the following school year, 2017-2018. If implemented, the two years of closures would mean a loss of 53 schools in Detroit, nearly half of the newly formed Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). Under Michigan’s law, these “priority” schools can be closed, taken over by a state-appointed “CEO” with full powers to terminate contracts and fire personnel or be converted into charter schools.

DeVos has long shaped the anti-public education policies in Michigan and has donated heavily to Republican state legislators. …

Schools set to close by the end of the school year include 16 in the DPSCD, eight in Detroit’s Education Achievement Authority and 14 others throughout the state, including schools in Muskegon Heights, Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo, Pontiac, Saginaw and River Rouge. There is only one charter school on the list.

The mass closures will take place at the discretion of the State Reform Office, which was moved out of the Michigan Education Department and placed under the direct supervision of Republican Governor Rick Snyder in 2015. The additional 35 schools designated as “failing schools,” and on the closure list for 2017-2018, include 29 more in Detroit and others in Flint, Grand Rapids and Warren. All the districts have one thing in common: high poverty rates. The fate of the schools depends on their performances on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, administered this spring.

The schools targeted for closures have been ranked in the “bottom 5 percent” on standardized tests for three years, putting them in the federally designated category “priority school” established by Obama. The policy mandate of “intervening” in low performing schools was further enshrined in Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act enacted in 2015, following years of defunding public education and directing millions of federal dollars to charter enterprises.

Included on the initial list are 10 Detroit high schools, including Denby, Ford, Mumford and Pershing High Schools, as well as the academies formerly part of Cody and Osborn High Schools.

Parents received a communication from the state suggesting alternative schools, largely in the suburbs, and which are a lengthy or impossible commute. For instance, the East China School District in St. Clair County was cited. For students living near downtown Detroit, this would be a 50-mile trek and only available by car.

“How am I going to get there?” Michele Phillips asked the Detroit News. Her three children attend Fisher Upper Magnet School. She said she could not afford to pay for public transportation to send her children to a Detroit school a few miles away, much less to the suburbs.

Districts that can demonstrate to the SRO that students will face an “unreasonable hardship” may, by law, be granted a temporary reprieve on closings. Natasha Baker, the head of the SRO and a Snyder appointee, has repeatedly warned that the state will move “aggressively” on closures. She dismissed the idea of “hardship” from the mass closings, telling Crain’s Detroit Business, “transportation issues can be resolved.”

Baker further opined, “I think it’s more disruptive to a community when they graduate thousands of students who can’t read.” Baker was a charter school supervisor in New Orleans before collecting $110,000 in Michigan tax dollars for a Detroit charter (a “ghost charter”) planning grant. The school never opened; she was subsequently given jurisdiction by Snyder over all state “priority schools.”

The DeVos-run Great Lakes Education Project saluted the plans for shutdowns in the name of public school “accountability.” A statement on the GLEP web site emphasized that DeVos “wants to rewrite the education playbook for America.”

On Monday, the Wall Street credit rating firm Moody’s said entire districts could face severe financial hardships because of the loss of students from the school closures. In Michigan, education funding follows the student through a state-managed foundation grant. In the antiseptic language of financial investors, Moody’s notes, “The school closing process adds unpredictability to an already volatile sector and is credit negative for the affected districts because it makes budgeting for operations challenging and threatens revenues.” In other words, entire school districts may find themselves at risk for complete privatization due to student enrollment loss, following districts like Highland Park and Muskegon Heights. …

In the run-up to their final vote on the Detroit restructuring plan, state legislators—who had received $1.45 million in contributions from DeVos-affiliated lobbying groups in the previous weeks, not only decided to close the Detroit public school district and replace it with a new charter-friendly district, but also to strip all oversight of charter schools.

Betsy DeVos Tries To Enter Public School, Gets Blocked By Protesters: here.

Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced her appointments of key Education Department (ED) officials. The new officials are drawn from the forefront of right-wing education ideologues and profiteers, public school privatizers, charter school advocates and for-profit college personnel: here.

32 thoughts on “Trump’s Betsy DeVos destruction of education

  1. Millions of people across the country stood up and made their voices heard in opposition to Betsy DeVos. It was so inspiring to see so many people call their senators, write letters, show up to protests, and share stories and information on social media.

    But despite what they heard from people back in their home states, 50 out of 52 Republicans ignored their constituents, and Vice President Mike Pence just came to the Senate to cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as our next Secretary of Education. This is the first time a vice president has ever needed to act as a tie-break vote to confirm a nominee in the history of our government.

    This is not the end of the fight, it’s just the beginning: We have to do everything we can to protect public education and fight back against DeVos’ anti-student agenda. And I will be there to hold her accountable for as long as she serves — because our families, kids, and teachers deserve to know someone is fighting for them.

    Will you join me and commit to continuing the fight to protect public education? Add your name today.

    By this time you know that I think Betsy DeVos is absolutely wrong for this job. But now that she’s going to be Secretary of Education, it’s up to us to protect public education in this country. More than 50,000 of you called my office to tell me how important this is to you. I will never forget it — and I will make sure Secretary DeVos doesn’t either.

    Fight to protect public education — add your name next to mine.

    Betsy DeVos won’t succeed in tearing down what we’ve built. Not on my watch.

    Patty Murray
    U.S. Senator


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  4. Saturday, 11 February 2017

    US unions condemn Trump officials

    THE Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) issued the following statement in response to the Senate confirmation of billionaire public education novice Betsy DeVos as US Secretary of Education:

    ‘Choosing Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education was one of the first in what will surely be a series of horrific decisions made by the Trump administration. ‘Throughout the confirmation hearings, she proved to be completely unqualified for the position due to her lack of experience in public schools – which she has called a “dead end” – and through her support of charter schools, which have weakened districts like Chicago Public Schools (CPS) throughout the country.

    ‘Now that she has been confirmed, the groundswell of opposition to her appointment – evident by the first-ever deciding vote cast by a US vice president – will continue to grow, especially in Chicago, where she shares much in common with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as both cater to billionaires who dabble in destroying public education in areas of high poverty inhabited by black and brown people.

    ‘No matter how much he tries to convince the public otherwise, Emanuel’s insistence on refusing to force his wealthy campaign donors to equitably fund CPS and neglect of the communities where hundreds of thousands of CPS students and educators live and work is a page right out of the billionaire education ‘reform’ playbook co-written by his mentor, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

    ‘While our public schools crave revenue, democracy and an end to privatisation, the policies that Emanuel has rolled out in Chicago, and Rauner and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton are working to expand statewide, helped pave the way for the nightmare that is “US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos” and the damage she will do nationally.’

    Said CTU President Karen Lewis: ‘The only reason Betsy DeVos is in this position is because her family has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party, and not because of any sincere commitment to public education, because she has none.

    ‘It’s no surprise that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was among those who endorsed her, because they have a lot in common – such as using their extreme wealth to buy their positions. Our union will continue to stand united in opposition to them and anyone else who is a threat to public education,’ Lewis added.

    The AFSCME trade union President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the upcoming Senate confirmation vote on Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education: A commitment to the goals and values of public education ought to be the bare minimum requirement for a United States Secretary of Education.

    ‘But Betsy DeVos has spent decades of her life, and hundreds of millions of dollars of her private fortune, trying to undermine rather than strengthen the nation’s public schools. She has no relevant experience with or exposure to public education – not as a teacher or administrator, not as a school board member, not as a parent, not even as a student herself.

    ‘If Betsy DeVos gets her way, we’d further starve public schools by diverting more resources to taxpayer-funded vouchers and for-profit charters, which don’t provide the quality of education, the accountability measures or the civil rights protections that students and families need.

    ‘Our children, who depend on public schools to give them opportunity and hope for a brighter future, deserve much better. I urge the Senate to reject this nomination.’


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  7. Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:00 pm (PST) . Posted by:



    Fifty Republican senators stuck with billionaire heiress and conservative mega-donor Betsy DeVos, making it possible for her to be confirmed as secretary of education on Tuesday. DeVos and her wealthy family had previously helped fund the campaigns and super PACs that make it possible for GOP senators to win elections.

    Betsy DeVos has personally donated $115,000 to the current crop of Republican senators since 1980. Those lawmakers received more than $950,000 from the full DeVos family over the same period. The family has further donated $8.3 million to Republican Party super PACs in the past two election cycles.

    Here are the totals for 23 sitting senators who have received campaign contributions from the DeVos family since 1980:

    Sources: Center for American Progress, Every Voice, Federal Election Commission.
    And those numbers only scratch the surface.

    During her confirmation hearing, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked DeVos whether it is true that her family had donated $200 million to support the Republican Party going back over the years.

    “That’s possible,” she answered.

    It’s very good to be a donor.

    The Huffington Post

    …Only one of them didn’t vote to confirm DeVos.

    It is rare for a donor of this magnitude to receive a Cabinet appointment.

    The closest comparison is Penny Pritzker, an heiress to the Hyatt hotel fortune and President Barack Obama’s last commerce secretary. Pritzker was a bundler for Obama’s campaigns, and her family was one of the biggest donors to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in 2016.

    The DeVos family, however, is not just one of the largest contributors to the Republican Party today, but also one of the founding donors to the modern conservative movement beginning in the 1970s.

    In the 2016 election, the DeVos family contributed heavily to a handful of Republican super PACs that helped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) maintain his majority. The clan donated $2 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, McConnell’s personal super PAC, which spent its money exclusively on efforts to keep the GOP in control of the Senate. They also gave $200,000 to American Crossroads, which in turn sent most of its money to the Senate Leadership Fund. The Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC run by the billionaire Koch brothers, received $1.5 million from the DeVos family.

    Campaign finance reform proponents called on senators who received contributions from Betsy DeVos and her relatives to recuse themselves from voting on her nomination. None did.

    “People are fed up with a government that rewards wealthy donors, and that anger will not recede,” David Donnelly, president and CEO of the reform group Every Voice, said in a statement Tuesday.

    Two Republican senators did vote against the nominee: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Murkowski had received $43,200 from the DeVos family. Collins had received no contributions.

    Both senators said their vote against DeVos reflected the outpouring of opposition from their constituents, including teachers. Collins also based her no vote on DeVos’ “lack of familiarity” with the laws that provide adequate funding and quality education for children with special education needs.


  8. Cartoonist Glenn McCoy just compared President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the first black child to enter a segregated school against threats on her life.1

    McCoy copied a Norman Rockwell painting of Bridges bravely standing up to segregation in the 1960’s South, and replaced her with Secretary DeVos, a wealthy political crony facing protests for wanting to decrease access to public education and make it harder to discipline rapists on college campuses.2 Comparing a wealthy white woman who will endanger young people to Ruby Bridges, a revered hero who endured actual abuse to end segregation, ought to offend everyone.

    This cartoonist’s work is printed in major papers across the country including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. One of our biggest challenges during the Trump administration is the barrage of outrageous moments and starting to let some slip by as the new normal. That’s why we need to clearly demonstrate our outrage and call for all papers to stop printing Glenn McCoy. Will you add your name?

    Tell The New York Times, The Washington Post, and every U.S. newspaper: Drop Glenn McCoy now!
    Sign the petition

    McCoy’s cartoon is referencing Secretary Devos’ first trip to a public school in DC as Secretary of Education. Secretary DeVos was blocked from entering the school by peaceful protesters who objected to her leadership of the department. The protesters were parents and activists who are deeply concerned about her efforts to privatize public schools.3

    This isn’t the first time McCoy has come under fire for an offensive cartoon. During the 2008 campaign he put out a cartoon of then-candidate Barack Obama that DailyKos called “the sickest editorial cartoon in history.”4 It’s past time we say enough is enough.

    Because McCoy is a syndicated cartoonist, his cartoons appear in over a hundred papers around the country. If we can convince major papers like The New York Times and The Washington Post to drop him, others will follow.

    Can you sign the petition to newspapers to stop printing McCoy?

    Thanks for speaking out,

    –Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Adam, Holly, Kathy, Onyi, Susan, Anathea, Audine, Shannon, Megan, Libby, Emma, PaKou, and Pilar, the UltraViolet team


    1. A conservative cartoonist just reimagined an iconic civil rights image as a defense of Betsy DeVos, Fusion, February 14, 2017

    2. “I can’t imagine a worse pick”: Critics slam choice of Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education, Salon, November 25, 2016

    Under DeVos, Education Department likely to make significant shift on sexual assault, Washington Post, January 18, 2017

    3. Protesters briefly block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s visit to a D.C. school, Washington Post, February 10, 2017

    4. The Sickest Editorial Cartoon In History (UPDATE 1), DailyKos, August 19, 2008


  9. Students across the country recently headed back to campus after their winter breaks.

    And as they unpacked their suitcases and books, they also learned of attempts by the Trump administration to roll back their legal protections if they are sexually assaulted while on campus.

    Our new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who so many of us fought so hard to defeat, will have the power to enforce these protections under Title IX — the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. But in her nomination hearing, she would not commit to keeping the rules in place that would protect our students. She said “it would be premature” for her to commit to that — and I made it clear that this was deeply concerning, to say the least.

    I’m joining concerned activists to call on Betsy DeVos to protect Title IX and commit to fighting sexual assault on college campuses — add your voice by tweeting now with the hashtag #DearBetsy.

    Last month, my colleague Senator Bob Casey and I wrote to then President-elect Trump to ask that he and his administration continue to do everything they can to fund Title IX compliance in regards to sexual assaults on college campuses.

    Some of President Trump’s Republican colleagues believe that the issue of sexual assault on college campuses is “overstated” — and the “hundreds of millions of dollars” spent to create resources to investigate and prevent these crimes is money ill spent against the “oft-innocent accused.”

    The one in five women, and one in 16 men, who are sexually assaulted while in college beg to differ.

    Secretary Betsy DeVos needs to know that it’s not “premature” to commit to maintaining protections against campus sexual assaults — make sure she hears from you.

    Tweet now using the hashtag #DearBetsy to tell Education Secretary Betsy DeVos why we need to protect Title IX and fight campus sexual assault together.


    Patty Murray
    U.S. Senator


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    > DeVos’ push for school vouchers comes at expense of public schools
    > When Betsy DeVos isn’t busy making an embarrassment of herself … well, but when isn’t she doing that? Even leaving her gaucherie-laden confirmation hearing off the table – you know, the one where she didn’t know the difference between measuring growth and proficiency, and engaged in a silly moment about grizzly bears and guns on school campuses – she’s been busy tripping over her toes.
    > Officially confirmed as U.S. education secretary, she quickly praised historically black colleges and universities as pioneers of school choice. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality,” she burbled.
    > Except, of course, that the success of these institutions of higher learning has nothing to do with school choice. They exist in the first place because black students seeking a college education had no choice.
    > After her brief visit to a D.C. public school, DeVos, who’s never been an educator of any kind, nonetheless had the chutzpah to hold forth on what was wrong with the teachers there. They’re in “receive mode,” she asserted. “They’re waiting to be told what they have to do.”
    > DeVos hasn’t got a clue what the teachers there are or aren’t doing, and they were quick to tear her presumptuous gaucherie to shreds with facts about the innovative work they’ve been doing.
    > Then there’s embarrassment by association: The executive director of a school-choice organization founded by DeVos and her husband resigned this month after saying he wanted to shake a school official “like I like to shake my wife.”
    > During the quieter moments when DeVos isn’t residing in Blunderland, she’s plotting to save public education by making it as private as possible. In her view, school vouchers would save low-income students trapped in underperforming public schools.
    > The problems with this notion are nearly endless. Private schools don’t have to play by the same rules as public. They can generally refuse to offer services to special-education students, leaving the public schools to help students whose needs cost the most money, while they take the cheaper-to-educate crowd. They’re known to expel students who are performing poorly, or even over trivial disputes. Unlike public schools, they can insist on behavior contracts and parent involvement. And then after benefiting from all these advantages, they get to trumpet their superior test scores.
    > Except, it turns out, they can’t even do that.
    > A story in The New York Times reveals that private-school voucher programs around the country have been producing inferior results, according to a recent body of studies. In Indiana, under Mike Pence’s governorship, tens of thousands of students attended private schools through a voucher program. Their math scores dropped, and their reading scores stayed the same.
    > A study of Louisiana vouchers looked at students who had applied to private schools, but hadn’t made it in when the schools received too many applicants. Turned out they tested far better in reading and math in their public schools than the students who had gotten the vouchers.
    > Here’s a study funded by the Walton Family Foundation, big supporters of school choice, including vouchers, and a carried out by a pro-choice think tank, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Looking at an Ohio program, it concluded that students who attended private schools with vouchers did worse academically than similar students who remained in public schools.
    > I don’t expect little things like low performance and wasted dollars to stop DeVos’ voucher train. Grasp of facts and evidence hasn’t been one of her strong suits. That’s not such a big deal when it comes to her faux-pas-prone style. But it needs to be stopped when she’s on the path to harming public schools while giving low-income students an inferior education at taxpayer expense.


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