Florida students boo Trump’s miseducation secretary Betsy DeVos


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Betsy DeVos Booed at Bethune-Cookman University‬‬ during her Commencement Speech

10 May 2017

BCU graduates standing and turning their back and booing on Betsy DeVos during her commencement speech.

Bethune-Cookman University dean interrupts DeVos speech, threatens students “your degrees will be mailed to you!” They persist!

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos booed by students at Florida college

12 May 2017

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was soundly booed by students while attempting to give the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, a historically black university.

In the days leading up to the event, Bethune-Cookman students sharply criticized the university administration’s decision to provide DeVos a platform at the commencement ceremony.

DeVos was confirmed in the US Senate February 7 by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. The education secretary is widely seen as a particularly philistine and crude representative of Trump’s cabinet of billionaires and multi-millionaires.

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway. The DeVos family is reportedly worth $5.4 billion, making them the 88th richest family in the US.

Betsy DeVos (whose brother is former US Navy SEAL and founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince) is notorious for her indefatigable opposition to public education. The wealthy, right-wing “school choice advocate” has bragged of her family’s efforts to buy favors from politicians, writing in 1997: “My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided … to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect things in return.”

At Bethune-Cookman May 10, DeVos was jeered upon being introduced at the ceremony. Nearly half the audience of 380 students turned their back on the speaker as she made her remarks, which consisted largely of banal calls for students to dedicate themselves to the common good and other standard fare.

As the boos and heckling became louder and louder, school president Edison O. Jackson stepped in and warned students to stop their protesting, or else “Your degrees will be mailed to you,” i.e., the ceremony would be halted and the students dispersed. However, the booing continued as DeVos stated she planned to visit the gravesite of the school’s founder, civil rights activist and daughter of parents who had been slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune.

She made racist comments about HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], she doesn’t know anything about us, and she has the nerve to come down here and speak to us … And then she has the nerve to speak about Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy. What does she know about that?” commented graduating student Donjele Simpson to the Washington Post in regard to DeVos’s appearance at his school. A number of students protesting DeVos’s speech cited the US Education Department’s recent decisions to rescind a number of Obama administration consumer protections for student loan borrowers.

DeVos drew widespread criticism in February when she referred to historically black colleges and universities, such as Bethune-Cookman, as “pioneers of school choice.” Such institutions were created historically out of harsh necessity, primarily in the former slave states, in response to the segregation of universities and colleges and the exclusion of black students. Whether the comment was intended as a provocation or simply displayed gross ignorance, many saw DeVos’s comment as an apology for Jim Crow segregation.

Last week, President Donald Trump indicated he believed federal funding for historically black colleges to be unconstitutional. Trump was widely rebuked for this comment, and declared Sunday his “unwavering support” for such institutions, which, in fact, are increasingly integrated.

The protest at BCU occurred in the general context of growing hostility to the Trump administration, including from among those who voted for him. A new Quinnipiac University poll found Trump’s approval ratings have fallen to 36 percent, with 58 percent of those polled saying Trump’s first months in office are “mainly a failure.”

DeVos tried to save face after her appearance at Bethune-Cookman, releasing a statement Wednesday night which declared that “[o]ne of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree… We can focus on differences that might divide us or we can choose to listen, be receptive and learn from other experiences and perspectives.”

The statement echoed comments made by Bethune-Cookman president Jackson, who had defended DeVos’s appearance days earlier in a letter, asserting, “When we seek to shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas.” Neither DeVos nor Jackson sought to reconcile their supposed support for the principle of the free exchange of ideas with their denunciations of the “uncivil” BCU students who turned out en masse to exercise their right to free speech to combat DeVos’s unpopular ideas.

Among various actions as Education Secretary, DeVos has appointed far-right figures to her department, including Candice Jackson (author of Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine) to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Jackson, who like DeVos has made a career of opposition to public spending for education services, is also an ideological opponent of social equality, who has denounced immigrants and other groups in recent social media comments.

The author also recommends:

Ultra-right libertarian to run the US Education Office of Civil Rights
[18 April 2017]

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists: here.

In a news article on Friday, June 2, the New York Times makes the jarring claim that US Secretary Betsy DeVos’ appointees are a “stark departure from her reputation.” The leading publication of the liberal establishment suggests that the common perception that DeVos is “an out-of-touch, evangelical billionaire without the desire or capacity to protect vulnerable poor, black, immigrant, gay or transgender students” needs to be re-thought: here.

Trump education budget calls for dismantling core programs, promotes vouchers and charter schools: here.

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15 thoughts on “Florida students boo Trump’s miseducation secretary Betsy DeVos

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  4. http://www.alternet.org/education/devos-education-transformation-actually-public-theft?akid=15658.2582026.HOAcKf&rd=1&src=newsletter1077552&t=14
    >
    > What Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Calls Education Transformation Is Actually Public Theft

    > Betsy DeVos wants to give your tax dollars to private schools and businesses and tell you it’s an education “transformation.”
    >
    > That’s the main theme of an address she gave this week to a conference held by the organization she helped found and lead, the American Federation for Children.
    >
    > Declaring “the time has expired for ‘reform,'” she called instead for a “transformation… that will open up America’s closed and antiquated education system.” Her plan also opens your wallet to new moochers of taxpayer dollars.
    >
    > By the way, AFC, according to SourceWatch , is a “conservative 501(c)(4) dark money group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues.” It also grew out of a defunct PAC connected to DeVos called “All Children Matter” that ran afoul legally in Ohio and Wisconsin and still owes Ohio $5.3 million for breaking election laws.
    >
    > So DeVos had a supportive crowd for her speech, but what should the rest of us think of it?
    >
    > The transformation she calls for seems to rest on the premise that, “It shouldn’t matter where a student learns so long as they are actually learning.” But what does she mean by “learning”? And what should the public expect about how its funds are being spent?
    >
    > In kicking off her address (transcript here ), DeVos thanked Denisha Merriweather for introducing her. Merriweather, as I’ve previously reported , often appears with DeVos at events extolling school vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private schools at taxpayer expense.
    >
    > In Merriweather’s case, exercising school choice meant using Florida’s education tax credit program to attend a fundamentalist Christian academy that presents the Bible as literal history and science, teaches young earth creationism, and demeans other religions.
    >
    > DeVos then quickly moved to the story of a recent graduate of a Catholic private school, Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who used that state’s voucher program to transfer from a public school to a private religious school at taxpayer expense.
    >
    > Based on that student’s life story, DeVos declared, “Here in Indiana, we’ve seen some of the best pro-parent and pro-student legislation enacted in the country.”
    >
    > Reporters at NPR recently looked at what “pro-parent and pro-student” policies have accomplished in Indiana and found the state’s voucher program, which DeVos is no doubt extolling, is essentially a coupon program for parents who already send their kids to private schools.
    >
    > “More than half of all voucher students in the state have no record of attending a public school,” NPR reports. “Recipients are also increasingly suburban and middle class. A third of students do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals,” a proxy for poverty widely used in education.
    >
    > Clearly taxpayers should be concerned about picking up the tab for an expense that many families seem to be able to afford in the first place. In fact, that’s a point conservatives frequently level in their claims of widespread welfare fraud.
    >
    > But so long as students are learning, DeVos contends, what’s the beef? Well, evidence of these students actually learning by exercising their “school choice” is scant.
    >
    > A recent op-ed in the New York Times cites a study which found Indiana students using the state’s voucher program to transfer from public schools to private schools voucher students “experienced significant losses in achievement” in mathematics and “saw no improvement in reading.”
    >
    > But one thing Indiana’s voucher program certainly accomplished is to provide a huge cash infusion to religious schools. As Mother Jones recently reported, of the more than 300 schools receiving voucher money in the Hoosier state, only four aren’t “overtly religious.” The remaining four are for special needs students.
    >
    > Another premise DeVos argues is, “Education should reward outcomes, not inputs.” But outcomes at what cost?
    >
    > That’s a question many who disagree with DeVos’s preference for “high performing” charter schools have about her praise for school choice.
    >
    > In her reporting on a supposedly high performing charter chain in Arizona, Carol Burris , an award-winning educator and leader of the Network for Public education, looked at the school’s supposed great outcomes and found a troubling backstory.
    >
    > The BASIS Arizona charter chain, she found, “provides insight into how charter schools can cherry-pick students, despite open enrollment laws. It also shows how through the use of management companies profits can be made — all hidden from public view.”
    >
    > DeVos counters any objections to her preference for school choice with the argument, “All parents instinctively know that their child should not follow the money – the money should follow their child,” which is a favorite phrase of the school choice crowd.
    >
    > Here’s something else parents know: Kids don’t come with price tags. And educating the nation’s future workers, leaders, citizens, and artists has always been, and must continue to be, a communal enterprise shared by parents and non-parents alike.
    >
    > In her efforts to create the education transformation she calls for, DeVos is supremely eager to “get Washington and the federal bureaucracy out of the way,” but still wants you to pay the cost of privatizing our schools. That’s not an agenda for better schools. It’s about stealing public money.

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