DeVos Responds to Her Critics

DeVos Responds to Her Critics

September 20, 2019 100 By Ronny Jaskolski


Shame! Shame! Shame! Lots of people hate Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. What’s her response to the haters? It’s really disappointing and disturbing. When she spoke at the Kennedy School of Government, students held up signs calling her a white supremacist, and saying “students are not for sale”. Our kids are not for sale. Of course they’re not. The Secretary tries to get in the back door of the school but she is confronted physically and then blocked out. Right after she took office, she went to visit this school but protesters blocked her way. I am undeterred. You are undeterred? You’re being turned away from the school. Go back! The security person had me get back in the car. We drove away and he said “Ma’am, I don’t think we should go back there.” And I said “We are absolutely going back there. You’re going to figure out a way to get me in, because they are not going to win.” And you got back in that school. I got back in, and I had a great visit. Some people hate DeVos because she’s a rich Republican donor. Betsy DeVos is a billionaire, she was born into a billionaire family… She is rich. Her father built a company worth more than a billion dollars. Then she married into to the Amway marketing fortune. Betsy DeVos’ primary expertise seems to be in being a rich person. Buying your way into the position. Ridiculous. Well you did give a lot of money to some Republican senators. Yes, I have been a contributor over the years. I’ve also been an activist over the years. I think it’s important for people to engage in things that they believe in. But that’s not the point. The point is for 30 years I have been working on behalf of families that have not had opportunity. For 30 years, she’s obsessed about giving poor families a chance to attend better schools. She donated million of dollars to charter schools and private schools, and served on the boards of school choice foundations. That enrages the education establishment. What she has done is actually made schooling worse in Michigan. DeVos helped bring charter schools to Michigan, and the union boss claims: 80 percent of the schools, the charter schools in Detroit are failing. Charters in Detroit are at the bottom of the list. Charter schools in Michigan actually, the students in them are doing demonstrably better than the students in traditional public schools. And that goes for the city of Detroit and statewide. She’s right. Stanford researchers found the kids in charters performed better. Choice did help. The whole country could use help. You look at our standing vis a vis the rest of the world, it has been stagnant for the last 30 years. 23rd in reading, 25th in science, 40th in math. And we’ve tripled spending on K-12 education. But we haven’t gotten the results that we’ve hoped for and expected. Why not? The reality is today, almost all the schools that kids go to are still operating on the industrial model. Why do we group kids by age in school? Why do we take the summer off? Because that’s the way it was always done. Most of it is based on history and tradition. Kids get the summer off because they’re needed on the farm. A hundred years ago when most worked on the farm. A hundred years ago, yes. If we were to introduce full on choice into an education environment, you’re going to have a lot of different approaches. If there were real choice, good teachers would make more money. Absolutely. Good teachers should be very handsomely compensated. By the same token, teachers who aren’t good and really shouldn’t be in the classroom probably wouldn’t be anymore because nobody would choose their classroom. People are not stupid, they know where their kid is gonna do best. I knew which teacher I wanted my child to have. We need to do something different. This country is on a trajectory to failure, ultimately, if we do not turn around how we are educating kids today. DeVos also acknowledges that fixing schools is not her job, not the federal government’s job. Most schools are locally controlled, and paid for locally. DeVos, less arrogant than many in Washington, told me “I’m not the nation’s choice chief”. All she can do is encourage states and local governments to try choice, and to get rid of rules that get in the way. President Trump signed an Executive Order directing her to do that. As The President said: “Local communities do it best and know it best.” That’s usually true. Local control has its advantages.