So Betsy is in, or maybe she isn’t.
DeVos stands as an example of both the corruption and stupidity of corporate America with its involvement attempting to educate America’s children.
Republicans are spineless to confirm her, and Democrats, while united today, have also been complicit in permitting the dismantling of America’s public schools.
If you think education secretaries Arne Duncan and John King, Jr. have not done their share of damage in adequately educating children in this country, we need to talk. Maybe they didn’t support school choice, but they idolized all kinds of charters whether they worked or not.
And we all need to acknowledge that vouchers are already a reality in many states. Here are the eleven states along with the District of Columbia with voucher systems that give taxpayer dollars to more than just poor children.
- Colorado (Douglas County Schools)
- And the District of Columbia
School choice is not democratic, and it separates and divides us as people. With choice we get:
- Rich schools and poor schools.
- Black schools and white schools.
- Hispanic schools and Muslim schools.
- Online schools.
- All kinds of religious schools.
- Schools for students with disabilities.
- And theme schools that ignore a whole curriculum.
Schools will not be inclusive. Nor will they likely be accountable.
Many will be for-profit, meaning the money at the top will matter more than the children these schools are supposed to serve.
There will also be a lot more high schools where our tax dollars will fund technical workers for corporations. Some students will get jobs. Some won’t
Sen. Tim Kaine said on Morning Joe that the Senate got more letters rejecting Betsy DeVos than anyone, and it is evident to everyone, but 12 senators, some whom she gave campaign contributions, that she lacks qualifications. I am still dumbfounded that she didn’t know about IDEA.
Here are her friends (From Education Week):
- Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina: Betsy DeVos gave Burr $5,400 for the 2016 election, according to Federal Election Commission records. (That represents the maximum allowable contribution from an individual directly to a candidate for federal office, given both a primary and a general election.) Dick DeVos Jr. also gave Burr $5,400 for 2016.
- Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana: Betsy DeVos gave Cassidy $7,800 for the 2014 election. Dick DeVos Jr. also gave $7,800 for 2014. (In addition to primary and general elections, Cassidy participated in a run-off election against former Sen. Mary Landrieu that year.)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska: Betsy DeVos gave Murkowski $5,400 for the 2016 election. Dick DeVos Jr. also gave Murkowski $5,400 for 2016.
- Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina: Betsy DeVos gave Scott $2,000 for the 2014 election, and $5,400 for the 2016 election. Dick DeVos Jr. also gave Scott $5,400 for 2016.
Other GOP senators to receive Betsy DeVos’ campaign donations include Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader, as well as Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
I left Representatives out and some others.
But it’s the state legislators to turn our eyes to now when it comes to public schooling. They’re the ones holding the cards after the Every Student Succeeds Act.
They will see DeVos as opening the door for more choice especially if they don’t already have vouchers.
DeVos will seal the deal for new choice and more choice.
Here are two examples of new choice initiatives legislators are working towards and a state that already has education tax credits approved.
Senators there are all giddy about a two-part Senate bill that permits Texas taxpayer dollars to fund two voucher programs to help parents send their children to private or religious schools.
Senate Bill 3:
- Permits education savings accounts (ESAs) for parents to spend money on K-12 tuition and other education expenses like technology, textbooks, and tutoring.
- Permits parents to spend on special education services. Parents will, however, give up protections found with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Most parochial or private schools offer little in the way of inclusion or special education services.
- The second part of the bill is for tax credit scholarships. This allows businesses to “count contributions to approved scholarship organizations as credit against their insurance premium tax.”
The Tennessee legislators never quit pushing vouchers no matter how many times the people say no.
This year, if they don’t get vouchers for the whole state, Sen. Brian Kelsey wants to get them for Memphis. This is the 12th time he has filed a voucher bill.
But this time Kelsey is emboldened because of President Trump. Betsy DeVos will hold his hand this time around.
Most troubling are parents who buy into choice—who have been convinced that it is better than public schooling even though there is no proof.
New Hampshire is a good example. Parents there have been swayed by powerful corporations that choice is beneficial for their children. They have signed onto the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF)—a a 501(c)3 non-profit organization started by the Waltons.
New Hampshire’s legislature enacted the Education Tax Credit Program (ETC Program) in 2012. The program was challenged in New Hampshire’s judicial system, but in 2014 the State Supreme Court approved the program.
They are ahead of Texas in their school choice initiatives.
The ETC Program gives business owners the option to contribute money to the Children’s Scholarship Fund to provide vouchers to children to private or charter schools.
Look for more charter openings in New Hampshire in 2017.
And All the Rest
Here is a link with the rundown from the the Friedman Foundation what is happening with choice in other states. Legislators have been driving choice for a long time.
School choice will continue to play itself out, unfortunately, unless the leadership of Betsy DeVos proves to be so bad it brings choice to the forefront negatively and people will want nothing to do with it.
It could happen. I still have hope.
Ujifusa, Andrew. “See Betsy DeVos’ Donations to Senators Who Will Oversee Her Confirmation.” Education Week. December 1, 2016.
Sheila Resseger says
And let’s not forget the DeVos/ALEC connection:
“Her particular area of interest is the deregulation and privatization of the education system, initially through the introduction of education “vouchers.”
“The primary organizations that DeVos has bankrolled to carry out these policy goals are the dark money group, American Federation for Children (AFC), which is a 501(c)(4), and its affiliated 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, Alliance for School Choice. These groups have become major contributors to the right-wing corporate education reform echo chamber.
“AFC describes itself as ‘creating an education revolution’ through what is described as ‘school choice,’ via vouchers (tax dollars spent on private schools including religious schools), tax credits, and non-taxable ‘Education Savings Accounts.’
“AFC has gone through several evolutions since its 1998 founding including name changes. Some of these changes occurred after political controversies such as violations of campaign finance laws in Ohio and Wisconsin, as noted above.
“AFC is and always has been a very important player in local state and national politics, helping to strongly support Republican candidates who move her education privatization agenda forward. …
“AFC also aggressively promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where Jensen has represented AFC’s lobbying agenda.
“ALEC, describes itself as a voluntary association of state legislators but it operates as a corporate bill mill where the corporations that fund most of ALEC’s operations and where corporate lobbyists and special interest representatives get an ‘equal voice and vote’ with elected officials to approve ‘model’ bills without the press or public present. AFC has been a ‘trustee’ level sponsor of ALEC and is a member of ALEC’s Education Task Force.
“AFC works alongside ALEC to push so-called ‘model bills’ promoting ‘school choice’ and tax changes to subsidize private schools. Essentially, both ALEC and AFC want that national priority to be expanded funding for charter schools, which defunds truly public schools.”
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks, Sheila. Troubling information but important to understand. The states seem to be following this lead too.
ciedie aech says
YES. The ALEC recipe has been a very purposefully directed and controlled push to take over at the state level, one state at a time.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Ciedie! I so appreciate your comments–long or short! Always to the point!