Erica Green of the New York Times wrote that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has “surprised” everyone by insisting that the state accountability plans must be more demanding, more “ambitious,” stronger in setting goals.
Please note that DeVos spent over a million dollars rewarding the Michigan legislature in 2016 for blocking accountability standards for low-performing charter schools in Michigan. And note also that her response to studies about the poor performance of voucher schools has been a yaw. No accountability for charter schools. No accountability for voucher schools. So long as parents choose them, that’s the only “accountability” that matters to DeVos.
She told the Senate committee that interviewed her that she is all for accountability. She didn’t explain that she supports accountability only for public schools, but not for charter schools or voucher schools. That way, more public schools can be held to impossible standards, declared failures, closed, and handed over to the private sector, where there is no accountability.
Stephen Henderson, the editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, complained last December, before DeVos was conformed, that she has no respect for data and insists on shielding the charter industry from accountability.
He wrote that the Detroit public schools actually outperform the city’s charter schools, but DeVos didn’t care. In comparing ACT scores, he wrote:
“The average for Detroit Public Schools is a 16.5 — equivalent to 8th-grade competency.
“The average for charters is 15.6, with 14 of the 16 charter high schools below the DPS average.
“A true advocate for children would look at the statistics for charter versus traditional public schools in Michigan and suggest taking a pause, to see what’s working, what’s not, and how we might alter the course.
“Instead, DeVos and her family have spent millions advocating for the state’s cap on charter schools to be lifted, so more operators can open and, if they choose, profit from more charters.
“Someone focused on outcomes for Detroit students might have looked at the data and suggested better oversight and accountability.
“But just this year, DeVos and her family heavily pressured lawmakers to dump a bipartisan-supported oversight commission for all schools in the city, and then showered the GOP majority who complied with more than $1 million dollars in campaign contributions.
“The Department of Education needs a secretary who values data and research, and respects the relationship between outcomes and policy imperatives.
“Nothing in Betsy DeVos’ history of lobbying to shield the charter industry from greater accountability suggests she understands that.”
When Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, we were assured that it would prevent future secretaries of education from acting like Arne Duncan, who thought he was czar of all American education, chosen by the president to close down every school with low scores, mostly in black and brown communities, and hand them over to entrepreneurs.
Guess what? Betsy DeVos is Arne Duncan in high heels. She, who has never worked a day in a public school or antwhere else, is telling public schools exactly what they must do to meet her standards. But for the private sector, there are NO standards at all.
That’s the DeVos way.
Will the Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions let her get away with rewriting the ESSA law to suit her fancy?
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