3 Things Betsy DeVos Wants To Change In Your Schools

3 Things Betsy DeVos Wants To Change In Your Schools

What he calls as a disaster, she labels "a federalized boondoggle."​
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Trump's nominee for secretary of education is Betsy DeVos, a billionaire heiress who has been a staunch advocate for private charter schools, online schools and taxpayer funded vouchers for other private and religious schools of choice ― primarily Christian schools in order to "advance God's Kingdom."

DeVos's Senate confirmation hearing held early January raised questions about her questionable financial integrity and lack of experience. Despite both Republican and Democrat parties' unease with the nominee's dodgy answers, as of January 31, the Senate committee vote neatly split along party lines 12-11, with "all 12 of the committee's Republicans voting to approve her."

Since the hearing, DeVos pressed three of her goals forward towards the improvement of the American K-12 education system.

1. She will continue to advocate voucher programs, but at what cost?

A voucher program "allows parents to use public funds to pay for some or all of their child’s private school tuition," and it is usually established and distributed by state governments. While they sound like golden eggs of opportunity falling into our lap, voucher programs are often criticized for sacrificing the goose that laid the golden eggs because they drain resources from public schools to fund private institutions.

DeVos has promoted this program on a state-by-state basis for years, like in 2000, when she and her husband "formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationally" a successful play to showcase support for equal opportunity, but unfortunately, that is when the stage curtains are drawn. Since 1993, DeVos and her husband flexed their monetary influence to "protect charters from additional regulation." Just this past year when Michigan lawmakers debated oversight measures for Detroit charter schools, "members of the DeVos family poured $1.45 million into legislators’ campaign coffers — an average of $25,000 a day for seven weeks. Oversight was not included in the final legislation."

The DeVos family's blatant coercion is why around 80 percent of Michigan charter schools are controlled and run by for-profit private companies. Of these charter schools, 52 percent have not significantly improved in reading scores compared to the scores of traditional public school.

And when it comes to math, Standford's 2013 Charter School Performance in Michigan report notes, "about 84 percent of charters have achievement results below the 50th percentile of the state... More than half of Michigan charters have positive growth and achievement below the 50th percentile in the state..."

2. She will not hold all schools (public, private or charter) to the same standards of accountability.

When there is a 51 percent national average of low-income students attending public schools, it is imperative that all schools be held to same standard of accountability across the board to insure equal standards education of a practical quality to everyone.

But when DeVos was asked if she would insure the equal standard of accountability as secretary of education, her answer was no.

Below is the Washington Post transcript of that questioning, and here is a clip of that senate committee exchange.

Kaine: “If confirmed will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter or private?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Equal accountability?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Is that a yes or a no?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Do you not want to answer my question?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree?”
DeVos: “Well they don’t, they are not today.”
Kaine: “Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me?
DeVos: “Well no . . . ”
Kaine, interrupting her, said: “You don’t agree with me.”











And he moved on to another topic.

For the secretary of education nominee to not understand that equal accountability standards across all schools is a federal standard that we the American people pay for, expect and deserve is astonishing. Another blow came when that DeVos stated that taxpayer and federal funded schools meeting Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements is "a matter best left to the states" despite the fact it's an already enforced federal law protecting the educational rights of disabled kids.

So when she was asked her views regarding school assessments measuring proficiency or measuring growth, at that point it was not longer surprising to find that DeVos did not know the difference between proficiency and growth.

3. She may "revise" Common Core standards.

What is a surprise is that DeVos has a slightly different take Common Core standards than Trump. What he calls as a disaster, she labels as "a federalized boondoggle."


And that may be all she ever says about it. Although they can't scrap the Common Core, DeVos and Trump's transition team may revise some here and there and then stick a brand new label on it for no apparent reason other than to gather public support (and possibly for self satisfaction — bonus points if it uses Trump's name).

It is not clear how DeVos expects to take this role on when many argue she is entirely unqualified, but there's not much question as to why she was nominated to begin with. After all, the DeVos family donated nearly $200 million to the Republican party, with Betsy and her husband Dick personally donating $47 million since 2000. So it's understandable why DeVos said, "We expect a return on our investment."

Congratulations, DeVos. Looks like you got it.

Cover Image Credit: Cagle

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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I'm Not Voting, And Guess What, That Is OK

To all of the recent political endorsements by celebrities and Facebook posts telling me I should register to vote, I'm not voting.

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I am not the type of person to normally ever write a Facebook post related to politics, yet here I am dedicating a whole article to it. Or rather about voting itself, not my political affiliation. For the most part, I like to keep my political outlooks to myself instead of broadcasting them to all of my friends, family, coworkers, and that handful of people I do not actually know but I accepted their friend request anyway. Instead, I grace this group of people with animal videos because it doesn't cause any friction, the videos are always light-hearted, and there are already so many other people posting about the next election.

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Quite frankly, I do not identify as a liberal democrat or conservative republican so I should not be subjected to vote for either. I choose not to vote because I do not support either side of the political spectrum and I do not think any of the candidates are true to what I want in the future of my country. There are some ideas I like from Democrats as well as some ideas I like from Republicans, but because of the political climate in recent years, the political parties are becoming more polarized than ever with their ideas, and instead of seeking a moderate stance, are becoming more extreme. I understand that voting is seen as a civic responsibility that comes with being a U.S. citizen, but I have the right to vote not the obligation to vote, and people should respect that decision.

Can you imagine amending the constitution to include penalties for not voting? Where is the democracy in forcing citizens to the ballots via scare tactics? I just do not want to be forced into voting or supporting something that I do not believe in. I will vote when there is a candidate that earns my vote and that I support instead of voting just to vote.

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