Ed Secretary DeVos Moves Quickly to Hand Schools Over To the Koch Brothers, Heritage Foundation
Apparently it isn’t enough for Betsy DeVos to destroy the education system in her home state of Michigan by paying politicians copious amounts of money to honor her nefarious wishes and pass bills establishing charter schools and voucher programs. Noooo, that’s not enough for her. She wants to destroy the public education for the entire U.S.
Betsy DeVos is gunning for your child’s education
With a little help from the Koch brothers and The Heritage Foundation, notably founded by her father-in-law Richard DeVos, she was the chief engineer who sent Michigan schools into a tailspin that they have yet to recover from.
But she sang a different tune during her confirmation hearing, notes Crooks and Liars. She said she wanted to work in the best interests of students, teachers and education leaders. She also claimed she supports public schools and wants the best for them.
I’m sure many people who have worked in Michigan’s education system would beg to differ.
And she’s a pro, spending some 20 years destroying the state’s schools. The DeVos family helped create organizations dedicated to passing school voucher programs and charter schools. Of course, you-know-who was also a board member for these organizations, which proceeded to badger and fund more politicians who assumed this was a movement within education.
It would be nice if this were true, but it isn’t. All of this was coming from the Koch brothers, The Heritage Foundation and the DeVos family, along with a few other people with a similar mindset, Crooks and Liars reports.
Now, Michigan’s education system is a shambles. Schools are closing and the quality of education is collapsing due to DeVos’s funding opposition efforts to accountability practices that are mandated by the state, notes Politico. Schools in Michigan don’t have to report to anyone, and virtually anyone can open a school — no experience necessary. Students are failing and can’t maintain scores that are similar to other states.
But here’s the worst news about Michigan’s schools:
Instead of going to public schools, taxpayer money is being funneled into charter schools, effectively crippling the public school system.
Did I mention that the state’s public schools were doing just fine before DeVos and her like-minded cohorts got their paws on them? I didn’t? Well now you know.
Now that she’s Trump’s Secretary of Education, she has, of course, begun chipping away at the Department of Education by gutting at least one program that she’d promised to protect — The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This program borrowed heavily from former president George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, and the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act which preceded it. ESSA is an all-encompassing set of regulations that require schools across the country to meet academic standards, conduct academic assessments, maintain statewide accountability systems and offer school support, Crooks and Liars notes.
DeVos ruined the program in such a way as to make it look as if the program hadn’t been ruined. She might be deceitful, but she’s cleverly deceitful.
What did she do?
She kept all of the programs within ESSA, then dropped this bomb on March 17 by creating the Consolidated ESSA Plan. Sure, this fancy new name sounds good, but it drops all accountability measures. States will still have to submit all program plans to the Department of Education as this helps the federal government to decide how much funding or assistance to give each state.
“Students have never been well-served by rules, regulations and red tape that are not absolutely necessary and that hinder their teachers, local school districts and state leaders.”
Her statement makes it sound as if she only cut rules and regulations that weren’t benefiting students and their schools. And that would be truly wonderful if that was what she was actually doing. What she really did is cut ALL the rules and regulations, meaning states can now choose whatever programs they want, as long as they don’t violate disability and discrimination laws. And the really bad news is that states don’t need approval for how they spend their funding, even if these funds are provided by taxpayers.
DeVos has also been leveling attacks on teacher’s unions. States are no longer required to report on issues that impact teachers — issues like pay discrepancy, for instance. Schools also no longer have to provide school counselors, experienced teachers, or even certified teachers to students. Which means that schools can now hire teachers with no experience whatsoever. We can all be glad that a recent bill in Wisconsin that said teachers didn’t have to have a teacher degree, just experience in the field, was killed thanks to angry voters.
What DeVos really wants to do is this: Siphon taxpayer money from the federal government and funnel it into states that hire private management companies that maintain charter schools. And since states aren’t being held accountable at the federal level, they no longer have to practice the Constitutional requirement of separation of church and state. This means that religion can now be reintroduced to the classroom. And of course, DeVos and her cronies want Christianity to be THAT religion. As if that weren’t bad enough, she also plans to create a private market that will (of course) be funded by taxpayer dollars.
Earlier this week, she attended a meeting with the Center for Education Reform (CER), which (ahem) was created by the DeVos Education Foundation, a program she established in Michigan. Rather cozy, don’t you think? This network is full of scores of private, non-profit organizations that are funded by right-wing think-tanks. At the very top of this network sits the Heritage Foundation, which, as mentioned before was founded by her father-in-law, Richard DeVos. And this foundation is everything every archly conservative right-winger could ever want, per Crooks and Liars. It’s the reason we now have President Trump terrorizing Americans. It’s behind voter roll purges and voter ID laws and a bundle of other Republican bad ideas. The foundation maintains advisers on every government level from defense to the environment. It tells Republicans to jump and they say “how high?”
And the Koch brothers fund the Heritage Foundation and pour money into education thanks to various non-profit organizations. Through the Charles R. Lambe, Donors Trust,Donors Capital Fund and Americans for Prosperity and the Knowledge and Progress Fund.
In so many ways, DeVos, the Heritage Foundation, and David and Charles Koch are working to destroy a public education system in order to implement one that drags religion back into the classroom where it doesn’t belong. Who even knows if anyone will be teaching evolution in schools in another ten years? And what of sex education classes? Will they disappear too? What will happen to teaching kids to think for themselves?
And just think: We all have Donald Trump to thank for this.
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Megan was born and raised in Ventura, California. She has since lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Mexico, and Costa Rica. While she has always been a liberal, her travels have informed her politics. She has worked for more than 25 years as a professional journalist writing about crime, the police, local politics, feature stories, environmental issues and a variety of other topics. She now writes for Reverb Press.
Megan supports Black Lives Matter and fights against racism, sexism, the corporatocracy, climate change deniers and others who continue to destroy the planet.