Betsy and Randi Visit a Rural School District in Ohio

Betsy DeVos and Randi Weingarten visited the public schools of rural Van Wert, Ohio. Randi wanted Betsy to see how important federal dollars are to a good public school. Betsy went along and got a promise from Randi to tour a school of choice with her.

Education Week says the “rifts” between them remain. Yeah, a rift the size of the Grand Canyon is not likely to close no matter how many schools they visit together or how often they meet.

Betsy’s spokesperson says she is not anti-public school. She just pours millions into campaigns of state and local candidates who support charters and vouchers, not public schools.

This effort to find common ground between polar opposites strikes me as pointless. It would be like bringing a devout Orthodox Jew to a Roman Catholic Church in hopes of changing his mind, or bringing a devout Roman Catholic to a synagogue and expecting to find common ground. Or hoping that a Bosox fan would be converted by a visit to the Yankees’ dugout. C’mon!

The New York Times’ account has this perceptive comment:

“Van Wert educators said they believed their biggest threat was school choice. An expanded voucher program would be “potentially catastrophic” for the district’s finances, said Mike Ruen, the district’s treasurer.
About 400 students now take advantage of a state open-enrollment policy, which Ms. DeVos endorsed during her visit. It allows students to attend an out-of-district school and take $6,000 in state per-pupil funding with them.
Most of them attend schools in a neighboring suburb. About 20 students are enrolled in an online charter school that has a 39 percent graduation rate. And a local vocational school takes 80 percent of the funding for each student who transfers there.

“Only one private school competes directly with Van Wert public schools: a small Catholic elementary school in town that the public school system provides special education services to, mostly at no charge. A Catholic high school 15 miles away is less of a draw, but could become one if parents receive vouchers. “I don’t think people are against choice,” Mr. Amstutz said. “But when you talk about expansion, taking money away from public schools, it gives people heartburn.”

Betsy DeVos will not change her mind about the importance of giving taxpayer dollars to every family to choose a charter school, a religious school, home schooling, a cyber charter, or whatever other option they want. They can even choose a public school. To the extent she is able, she will divert federal funds away from public schools to the other choices. She won’t resist Trump’s deep budget cuts. This visit will not transform her. It will not make her more attentive to the needs of the children in public schools. No doubt, she feels sorry for them because they are in public schools.

Randi will not stop being a union leader because of visiting a non-union charter or voucher school. She won’t stop believing in the importance or value of public schools. She won’t become a supporter of DeVos’s privatization agenda or Trump’s budget cuts.

Sorry, friends, but I don’t see the point of seeking “common ground.” There is none.

from novemoore


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