Published on Crooks & Liars on 3/4/2017.
Without question, Betsy DeVos came across during her senate confirmation hearing as a wee bit dense. It appeared that she lacked the basic understanding of how our educational system works. Many times she left senate Democrats with a puzzled look on their faces, not understanding how Trump could have nominated a woman who lacked basic knowledge of professional education terminology or popular educational programs.
I will admit to having this same impression as many other liberals had. When I picture her in my mind, I see the “deer in the headlights” Saturday Night Live rendition. Her nomination had the appearance of another appointment that Trump really didn’t care about; a choice similar to Ben Carson being picked for HUD Secretary presumably because POTUS thinks all African Americas live in the projects. I had assumed that DeVos was chosen because she was a rich Republican donor as her more than generous contributions to conservative causes were being aired at the time.
The real Betsy DeVos
Information about the DeVos family is relatively easy to find. Bloggers in Michigan, at Eclectablog.com, have been dealing with the DeVos education debacle for 20 plus years. And contrary to what the media has put out, she is a well seasoned politician. Betsy has been involved in politics since college. She’s been a member of the Republic National Convention, chaired the Michigan Republican Party and is on the board of countless conservative political and educational groups and foundations. She is in fact, quite knowledgeable about education as long as it agrees with her family’s philosophy that church and school go together like peanut butter and jelly. Otherwise, she appears to care less.
DeVos’ philosophy is not so much based in getting government out of education. It’s not even about vouchers. Her target is to get around the separation of church and state as put forth by the Constitution. Christianity is the basis for every decision DeVos makes. Her family has spent millions on conservative Christian causes with her father-in-law, Richard DeVos, helping to fund the Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family, two of the most conservative foundations. She devoutly believes that the entire United States should be Christian as she is. Education is simply her vehicle to make this happen.
Ideally, the most effective way to get around the Constitutional requirement of separation of church and state would be to abolish the Department of Education. Republicans currently have a bill in committee to do just that. In the likely event that this does not happen, pushing the school choice program would be the next best thing. This argument proposes that parents know what’s best for their kids and should be able to choose what school they go to whether it be public, private, charter or home schools. If she can get the government to pay for it through vouchers, all the better.
DeVos destroyed Michigan’s schools:
The DeVos family began pushing for charter schools in Michigan by contributing, either personally or through their various foundations and organizations, to state and local elected leaders. If these politicians did not tow the DeVos line, the family would fund a competitor. Therefore, when legislation regarding charter schools came up, these politicians voted for unlimited charters, for-profit charters and with zero regulations. Thanks to Betsy DeVos, charter schools in Michigan can do whatever they like with no supervision. Literally, no supervision.
The end result has caused a large number of schools to close because some for-profit owners have taken the tax payers’ dollars and either not bothered to fund the schools or mismanaged them. Detroit has been hit especially hard with 24 of the 38 closings in the state. Parents are left trying to find a school to enroll their children in. Children are left falling behind and having to repeat grades.
Even successful charter organizations like the National Heritage Academy have had their share of troubles with students unable to meet the minimum requirements in reading and math. The Heritage Academy is owned by DeVos family friend, J.C. Huizenga. He is also listed as a board member on many of the same groups and foundations as various members of the DeVos family. The National Heritage Academy even has executives on its board that were formerly executives at the DeVos Amway Corporation.
In other words, Michigan education is controlled by the DeVos family and their organizations. This control, or more precisely manipulation, is what has caused Michigan schools to fail.
DeVos plan for your child:
Under the guise of school choice, DeVos plans to use federal tax payer money to set up for-profit charter schools on a federal level. If she follows her Michigan plans, and there’s no reason to believe she won’t, there will be little to no oversight. If there is to be any oversight, it will likely be left up to the states. In her view, these schools would be outside the separation of church and state rule.
Charter schools, though they are public and take taxpayer money, consider themselves to be private institutions because they are run by private companies. The ACLU has sued various Michigan charter school management teams, including the National Heritage Academy, for trying to implement religious teachings into their studies to include creationism. But don’t expect that to stop DeVos. Speaking at The Gathering, a Christian group for the super wealthy, Dick DeVos stated, “We just can think of no better way to rebuild our families and our communities than to have that circle of church and school and family much more tightly focused and built on a consistent worldview.”
It is no wonder public schools are failing. If we allow DeVos and her gang to take public school money in the name of school choice and give it to charter and private schools, of course they will fail. Defund a program, and it will fail. This is just a shell game that allows unscrupulous people to make money off of education and an attempt to get Jesus into public schools.
Home schooling began as a means to keep Christian children from learning multiculturalism and evolution. Now you might need to use it to teach them just those very things. Ironic, don’t ya think?