Betsy DeVoss Confirmed for Education

 

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Betsy DeVoss

 

Feb 7, 2017 (WASHINGTON) This was as right as they get. The Senate vote split 50-50 with two Republicans joining the Democrats in voting no for Betsy DeVoss. They were Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowsky from Alaska. Democrats mounted a 24-hour talkathon trying to get a third vote.

Since this did not come, it fell to Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie and confirm her.It is the first time a vice president is needed to break a tie for a cabinet nomination. She has been controversial since she has pushed forward a policy of charter schools in Michigan, that have not met the grade. According to Politico:

Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test, nicknamed the “Nation’s Report Card.” Notably, the state’s charter schools scored worse on that test than their traditional public-school counterparts, according to an analysis of federal data.

This was at the center of the opposition to her nomination. Her family has also gotten wealthy out of it, and she has no education experience or has ever sent a child to public school. Charters are poorly regulated, which has led to students being left on their own.

However, this is not just DeVoss. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education during the Barack Obama administration, followed similar policies. According to Back to Our Future:

On that day, Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 million the first year) to the charter school industry. This announcement was controversial because, as The Washington Post reports, an audit by his department’s own inspector general found “that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.”

At the heart of the matter were the Ohio Charter schools, that like their Michigan counterparts have not kept pace with the times, or made education better. This has been a matter of controversy for some time. The Lima News ran an editorial last year that partially read as follows:

Students who attend the state’s charter schools learn 36 days less math and 14 days less reading than traditional public school students, according to research done by the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. It crunched data obtained from student standardized test scores and ranked Ohio’s charter school performance 49th in the nation, with only Nevada being a worse gamble. That’s incomprehensible, considering that in 2013-14 when the study was done, charter schools accounted for more than 120,000 students, or 7 percent of the total public school enrollment in Ohio.

That is there, what about California? The law that authorizes charters became law in California in 1992. Ever since we have gone from one scandal to another. For example, the Washington Post reports:

There is a never-ending stream of charter scandals coming from California. For example, a report released recently (by the ACLU SoCal and Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group) found that more than 20 percent of all California charter schools have enrollment policies that violate state and federal law. A Mercury News investigation published in April revealed how the state’s online charter schools run by Virginia-based K12 Inc., the largest for-profit charter operator in the country, have “a dismal record of academic achievement” but has won more than $310 million in state funding over the past dozen years.

While DeVoss’s confirmation will be painted in truly partisan ways, in reality, hers is a continuation of a policy that has dismantled the public education system of multiple states, over the last generation. There are real problems with the system, and they will grow, since there is this core ideology that the market is the best solution.This core ideology that has taken hold of both parties, and this is the only lens that people see issues through. It is literally a return on investment, and students are nothing more than products.

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