Thanks to a tweet from a staff member with the Business Council. of Alabama, I came across this article from the conservative blog RedState in defense of Betsy DeVos. Given that this is the same BCA that testified last year for the infamous RAISE act, supported the recent “school rally” in Montgomery, supports charter schools and the Alabama Accountability Act that has diverted $86 million from the Education Trust Fund to give vouchers to fewer than 4,000 students, it is no surprise they would distribute something like this.
I am still trying to figure what the heck “fake news” is. As best I can figure, it is another way to describe “fiction.” This article comes close to being just that. I do know that a “screed” is a political rant. And this certainly meets that standard.
Let’s look at some of what was written:
The Democrats, along with their cohorts in the media, did a terrific job in making Betsy DeVos’s lack of experience in the public school system the be-all, end-all of whether or not somebody can run the Department of Education. The caterwauling from Democrats, ignorant celebrities, and dunderhead media personalities managed to advance that narrative. Thankfully, no other Republicans chickened out of confirming her and after a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, DeVos was confirmed.
Despite all the hullabaloo and gnashing of teeth by DeVos opponents, their criticisms are misplaced. The first is that the Department of Education is a vehicle for the public school system. Susan Collins, one of two Republican defectors, said the job the Secretary of Education is to, “strengthen our public schools.” Other criticisms directly tied her lack of experience as a teacher or employee in a public school district as the silver bullet against her nomination.
The idea that the Department of Education is devoted to public schools is hogwash.
So what pray tell, is the mission of the USDOE. Here is what their website says:
ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
Congress established the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on May 4, 1980, in the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88 of October 1979). Under this law, ED’s mission is to:
- Strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;
- Supplement and complement the efforts of states, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the states, the private sector, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education;
- Encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;
- Promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through Federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;
- Improve the coordination of Federal education programs;
- Improve the management of Federal education activities; and
- Increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public.
Granted it does not say public schools. Nor does it say charter schools, on-line schools, vouchers or tax credit scholarships. But what the writer of this piece ignores is that 90 percent of all students in this country attend public schools. (Same for Alabama.) This percentage has been declining and is expected to be only nine percent in 2021. (About five percent of all schools are charter.) DeVos has no record I can find of involvement in trying to improve public schools–except trying to replace them with charters. And now 90 percent of her effort should be an arena she knows nothing about.
The article then goes on to tell us what a failure Arne Duncan was as President Obama’s first Secretary of Education and tries to make the unfounded claim that Democrats found no fault with him. Now that truly is hogwash. And just a half-hearted effort at research would turn up countless diatribes in opposition to Duncan. (Spend some time on the blog of Diane Ravitch for starters.) And curiously enough, I am unaware of BCA ever speaking against him since his agenda of charters and vouchers is their agenda.
Duncan was a disaster. As was John King who replaced him.
And the irony of this article is that it praises Betsy DeVos and vilifies Arne Duncan and at this point, I can’t tell them apart.