Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and a woman who never taught a day in her life was just booed during commencement at a well-known, highly regarded historically black university. She was booed by African American students who apparently had little say as to who would be speaking to them on their special day.
Don’t let CNN fool you. This wasn’t about freedom of speech or rejecting Betsy DeVos because she is a woman. It also isn’t about turning DeVos away from the schoolhouse door just because she chose to visit a school. This was about students not being given the right to choose their own speaker—someone who would have made this special day about them and not politics.
And there’s also some history here. Since school reformers took over, students are pushed and cajoled to attend college from preschool to their senior year. They are forced to follow a script and pass all the high-stakes tests that seem especially designed to trick them to fail. They are made to walk in straight lines and stare politely at the people who stand in front of them.
Many get strict teachers in classes where instruction is measured and students are clicked at as if they are animals performing in a circus. These schools put data ahead of all else while children with real needs go unattended.
Instead of being given great public elementary, middle, and high schools that lift them up as people—that help them to develop their uniqueness, and rise against prejudice and poverty that keeps them in their place, public education has been de-funded for years—made into charity work by groups like Teach for America and Relay Graduate School of Education.
The rich get fancy schools and African Americans get charters like Success Academy, where Eva Moskowitz brow-beats students to behave, while profiting well. Republicans and many Democrats like this kind of profit-making schooling. It makes them feel all good inside like they are crusaders for children. It’s what drives them to break up real community schools where people are treated with dignity and have some say over the education of their children.
At Bethune-Cookman a great historically black university, students who have worked hard, who gained acceptance to their university, arrive at their graduation as success stories. They’ve managed to do all the right things, pass all the tests.
And who shows up to speak to them? Betsy DeVos, a woman who hypes their university as a “choice” school because she is all about that.
She is rich. And we all realize what Senator Bernie Sanders said during her confirmation hearing is true. She would not be in this job if her family had not donated $200m to the Republican Party.
According to Barrett Holmes Pitner of The Daily Beast, on the day before her speech over 50,000 people signed a petition requesting removal of DeVos as commencement speaker. It was ignored.
On a day designated for students—a day to honor their achievements—they have to listen to a woman of privilege tell them how she understands their struggle. They cannot even end their college journey without hackneyed political browbeating.
Perhaps if DeVos had the right ideas about schooling, her appearances would be more palatable. Perhaps if she really wanted to help public schools work for all children, but that’s not what she is about.
Betsy DeVos is the topping on the cake after Duncan and Spellings. She is the final straw, meant to end public education altogether—to put in place a system that rings true to her religiosity—a separate system of the haves and have nots. She is welcoming back the time before Brown v. the Board of Education. But my guess is she saw herself as Joan of Arc on that stage Wednesday.
This is not about God or the students. Privatization has never been about the welfare of the student. And it is not about religion either, though they might make you think it is. It is about money and it is about race. School privatization has always been about that.
Betsy DeVos should resign. But she was placed in this position by one vote if we can believe that. The problem is many Republicans and Democrats sold out on public schools a long time ago. The Washington mindset really is Betsy DeVos. I know it and you know it.
So boo away students. Remember this day as you journey forth. Maybe you can make America really great again. The rest of us are betting on that.
I like most of your articles except this one. This article is obviously biased politically. Your support of disrespect and the smothering of free speech is a major part of the problem. Liberty chose Trump and I’m sure but all agree but you will not see such disrespect from that class. The fact that you quoted Sanders is troublesome. A known socialist who took $$$ from the Clintons to step out of the race then later bought a 600k beach house within weeks. You agree with the bullying tactics of the public to get rid of someone who hasn’t been give a fair chance to do her job. Yes, there are many problems with the public school system and I believe in choice and the freedom to educate our children the way we we fit. However, there are also many positive things going on in public schools. The problems are in the homes, fatherless boys, single parents, too much technology, and most importantly the lack of the presence of God. Please stop being part of the problem by using your own political beliefs from your influences with us called indoctrination.
Nancy Bailey says
Ironically, I have taken heat for saying DeVos shouldn’t be barred from schools. I think parents and teachers should ask her pointed questions. And I support freedom of speech even though it worries me sometimes.
But commencement isn’t the place to foist controversial speakers on students because they have to attend. It is their day! Fifty thousand petition signers gave fair warning. She also has made it known what she stands for. We know what to expect from her anti-public school stance in MI.
And she has no background. You approve of her paying 200m to the Republican Party for the job?
I am going to leave your other judgemental comments alone. Except for tech. I think there’s too much of that.
It’s funny how you didn’t respond to my points about Sanders. Freedom of speech scares you???? Regarding the signatures from students is irrelevant because those students were unfairly influenced by liberal and socialist teachers and professors. There was most likely safe spaces all over the school November 9th. It’s all liberal bias. If her family gave 200m to the Republican Party over 3 decades is no different than many politicians. Should we discuss Clinton foundation. How about Comey spending 100k on prosecuting Dinesh D’Souza over 20k. You cannot go down the hypocritical path of donations amongst political arenas. That’s not the point here. Your calling for someone to be fired is a very dangerous step in the liberal indoctrination pool of anti-American narratives.
Nancy Bailey says
Yes. Hate speech scares me.
I like Sen. Sanders and never heard those accusations before.
I said she should resign.
I am also critical of Democrats.
You said Freedom of Speech. Hate speech is relative to the mind if the liberal.
Getting news from just biased resources is not healthy to balanced thinking and views.
I’m glad I know you are a socialist. Now I know to unsubscribe. Socialism is UN-American.
They aren’t children. Those students are adults who have come to informed and ethical decisions according to their educations and lived experiences. For you to assume that thousands of adults with bachelors and masters degrees only created and signed a petition because they were “influened” is insulting and patronizing.
Maybe they just don’t agree with DeVos. And they have EVERY right to protest. I’m so proud of those graduates and glad they’re going to be their full selves in society.
Lisa M says
troll much, Veronica?
Actually..not at all. I actually subscribed to this for quite some time now. Always liked everything written except this one. So the one time I have a difference in opinion and a mature conversation, I get attacked by people who really do hate freedom of speech. Insulting not a debate skill. It’s such a shame that everyone wants diversity in everything except opinion and points of view. Again, God Bless America, our President, our military and families struggling to get basic traditional real education and not indoctrination like you have had.
Veronica, your comments have all the “key words” with the attendant “connotations” that are used by conservatives. I hope all educators are teaching students to recognize bias when they see it. What makes it funnier is that you are complaining about bias. I think older students would see the irony in this. There you go…you could even use it to teach irony. It is ingenuous of you to point the finger when you are clearly biased yourself. Your comment actually would make a great lesson on connotation, bias and irony!.
Duane E Swacker says
“God bless America. . . . ‘
Which god, Veronica??
I don’t normally comment on these things, or these sites. But you’ve got to be insane if you think this is a matter of free speech. Graduation is supposed to be exciting and a celebration, not some rich asshat making light of all their hardwork as she proceeds to degrade education for the poorest and working class americans to further her sinister agenda. Sorry, this isn’t free speech it’s a matter of appropriateness and Betsy Devos is so much less than Secretary of Education, she’s a parasite that lives off destroying young children’s futures.
Bob Ksrpinski says
Liberty opted for Trump because it’s a Trump supported Pat Robertson pseudo religious farce. Student’s brainwashed with right wing drivel. Your criticism fails miserably. Veronica your conservatism reeks with the debris it has accumulated in the past decade or so. True conservatism is dead and buried. Something strongly resembling fascism replacing it.
The Tyrant Trump Not My President)
Steven Camron says
Thanks Nancy for telling it like it is! Ms. DeVos is a One-trick pony. She spent and hacked her way into power and has to be the least qualified appointment to the DOE. Her drive for “choice” in MI has set public education progress back 50 years! More than anyone, even Gov. Snyder, she is responsible for exacerbating the decline of Detroit Public Schools, with her support for unregulated charters schools arranged to strangle the life out of DPS. I’m proud of the student protests and hope her every public appearance is met with escalating peaceful protests.
Nancy Bailey says
I agree. Thank you, Steven.
“Socialism is UN-American.” The height of your political ignorance is displayed with that statement. Climb back into your god-forsaken box of indoctrination Veronica, you add nothing with your “lack of the presence of God” commentary which comes from YOUR particular “indoctrination pool of anti-American narratives”. As well, you are not as clever as you think of yourself by capitalizing “UN-” which indicates it is you that have been indoctrinated.
Your closed minded attempt at patriotism is just the jingoism of nationalism. Any U.S. citizen or group of citizens that embrace ‘socialism’ makes it U.S. ‘American’ by that very act.
“Democratic socialist, Eugene V. Debs, ran for the President of the United States as a member of the Socialist Party in 1912 and received 6% of the popular vote.”
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”― John Steinbeck
B. DeVos has no business being Sec. of Education other than thinking it is a business to be manipulated for further compounding of her unearned and INHERITED wealth which leads me to see that your support of her is that you are a flack for corporate greed.
Ms. Bailey is accurate that the ceremony at Bethune-Cookman should have been about the graduates and not politicized by the presence of DeVos. Shame on the Administration for making it so.
My statement of hunch is that her invitation was some sort of play to curry favor down the road; sycophants always put their nose up the money chute!
Jim Katakowski says
She is an insult to education. Her only interest is greed off education. She does not understand the separation of church and state. Her religion should be the choice of all. She is a great part of the swamp now. Her being booed at a Fla. college was rightly deserved. Hopefully more will find her out she is evil to education.
Your own ignorance is very very sad. I love the constitution which obviously, you do not. Indoctrination, like socialism, is also anti-American. Brain washing in colleges and now in high school is infuriating to most Americans. Your comments and reasons to question my patriotism is so incredibly ignorant and insulting to every American who fought for your freedoms. Please do yourself a favor and go see if you can have a weekend stay at Sanders 600k lake house…let’s see if he invites the likely in. Hypocrit at best,. I’m Thankful Trump is ours, yours and all America’s President. I trust his judgement and his brilliance. Good luck to you. God Bless America, our troops and the President.
Yes, I’m a conservative, a constitutionalist, a traditional. That does not make me biased. I discuss both sides of the issues with my children and family. I disagree with the left is huge ways. I’m also a Christ follower, I believe in loving everyone no matter what their life choices are. Just because I don’t agree with the left doesn’t make me a hater or biased. I simply don’t agree. You and many cannot accept the simplicity of that. You want to accuse and label just because we do not agree and have a difference of opinion. It’s ok. However, no one can deny that this country was founded by great men with an idea of freedom to all, capitalism and s rule of law mistakes happened, yes but growing is s must. We all make mistakes and I am thankful I’m forgiven. So please stop attacking people who are different from the way you think.. Good Day, God Bless America.
Nancy Bailey says
O.K. Differences are fine–attacks are not. Let’s agree to disagree and move on. I appreciate differences of opinion. It’s OK.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! And thank you for your comments.
It’s still a violation of free speech. Just like the tragic stifling of Ann Coulter and Milo.
I’m running fir my local school board because I want libraries, and traditional teaching and wise spending. I believe teachers a gifts to society and they should be allowed to teach and not be forced to used iPads to teach. Tech is only fir enhancement of education but to replace teachers. This district wants to our iPads in the hands of k-3. I have already seen on a personal level the college student ya who have no research skills, using textbooks is foreign to them and difficult to navigate. We don’t need reform, we need to get back to basics. There are countless parents who feel the same.
Nancy Bailey says
While I wouldn’t go across the street to see Coulter and Milo, I agree with you here. I do think they should be able to speak at universities. In this case I think free speech is being stifled.
But the difference as I see it, Veronica, is that students can choose not to attend those presentations.
A graduation is different. Parents and students want to attend in honor of their students. It is unfair to bring in a speaker so many are at odds with. Commencement is about the students. They should be able to bring in whomever they want. It should be a happy time to honor student achievement, not to listen to someone who dislikes public education.
I very much agree with with your points about iPads as I hope you know. Look, we aren’t always going to agree on everything. Let’s move on.
Watching this clip…which commencement speaker made it about the students and which made it about politics and herself?
Listening to someone speak can be enlightening even if you think you don’t like or agree. Those students have no idea about Devon or what she stands for except for what there environment has fed them. I’m not a fan of public education either. I think the government has ruined public education and had made it political and a ways to fill the pockets of the elites. I teach my kids to be listeners of all, you don’t have to agree but hear people out for yourself then decide for yourself.
Nancy Bailey says
In the tape you sent, the speakers were both welcomed at their commencements.
When Sanders spoke at Liberty it was not a commencement. Students did not have to attend.
DeVos made ridiculous statements about choice and Bethune-Cookman before the graduation. She promotes vouchers. She is not an advocate for public education. Please read her history in the State of Michigan.
I’m referring to the differencmces between Trumps speech and Warrens speech. She made it about politics and herself….not the students.
I’m not completely against vouchers because government has ruined public schools and families pay taxes even if they homeschool or go to private school. I’m not completely opposed fir the $1 to follow the student or at least a portion of their money. Public schools need to start behaving as if they are doing us a fucir or we owe them something and make it about educating the students.
Nancy Bailey says
But the students in Amherst, MA love her! They wanted her at their graduation! That’s the difference.
Public schools have been intentionally de-funded for years by business which wants to privatize.
Veronica, you can continue to post here, but I must move on. I’ve got too much to do today. Take care.
Ok, last point…
But you point was that graduation should be about the students and nothing else., she spoke about her jen political opinion. You are contradicting your original point. Also, you also proving the socialist/liberal definition of “free” speech. Only allow speakers to speak at events and to people about only what they want to hear, if not, protest and riot. I’m sorry, that’s not free speech, it’s called indoctrination and spreading the liberal agenda. It’s like going to a therapist and they yes you to death the make you feel better about yourself instead of seeing things from other points of view. There is really a warped sense on the left of what free speech really means. It’s one sided and hypocritical.
Nancy Bailey says
Students at Bethune-Cookman did not riot. Please be careful with what you write.
You continue to miss the point and pick and choose pieces of what I write. I am very careful about what I write. I used the word protest as well. Please re-read and stop twisting and spinning my words.
Roy Turrentine says
Well! We have had quite the name calling here. Labels, labels. Liberal socialist. Conservative.
I would like to pose a question that is basically historical in nature: how much of an extreme will be tolerated by opposing viewpoints until civil disobedience erupts naturally? The restrictive Middle Ages had their pedant uprisings. Nazi Germany was headed for rebellion before thrusting itself into war to preserve itself. Stalin had to create a sterile state to preserve his warped vision of revolution. The reign of terror followed the removal of the monarch and the pressure of other monarchs in Europe. So when do people begin to react to the political pressures they feel?
There were many hungry Frenchmen who did not listen to Jean Paul Marat’s bitter condemnation of the French nobility. Why did so many choose to listen to his fake news? Why do so many people feed on the insane ravings of the extremes today?
You have made your point…there is no need to rant in a game of political “I’m right, you’re wrong”.
I agree with Ms Bailey completely here…this writing is about the illegitimacy of Betsy DeVos…both at the graduation ceremony, and also as Secretary of Education. She deserves neither accolade, and it is an insult to both the University, and the American people.
Save Bernie Sanders for another time…this article is about Ms DeVos.
Graduation is a celebration of the achievement of our students, not a pulpit for a specific political direction.
I proudly too, stand with the students.
I still can’t get over all the people saying that if the University uninvited DeVos (or any controversial figure… who I can’t help but notice are all white supremacists….) it would violate her right to free speech.
Your right to free speech does NOT mean that anybody has to give you a platform.
Your right to free speech does not mean that anybody has to politely listen.
Your right to free speech does not mean that you do not deserve to be protested.
Watching the Bethune Cookman students turn their backs and protest brought me so much joy, because it means that we now have hundreds of young professionals who are ready to resist lies, inequality, and corruption. We will certainly need that in the near future (and, uh, right now).
C. Smith says
Veronica, for you to ignore completely that this woman does not have a viable or relevant message for young African American graduating students when her history of actions and alliances reveals a clear profit motive and structural racism shows your biases. Take a good look at your own before castigating Ms.Bailey.
Those students showed a form of dissent that in this case was appropriate I applaud them.
Duane E Swacker says
If I could make a point aside from the nonsense that Veronica spouts.
“Many get strict teachers in classes where instruction is measured. . . ”
Ummm, no they don’t as “instruction” is not ever “measured”. The measurement meme of attempting to supposedly “measure” student learning has been around for almost a century. That doesn’t mean that it is logically correct. And to supposedly “measure instruction” is even more off base logically. To understand why please read the following critique of mine on the whole measurement meme:
The most misleading concept/term in education is “measuring student achievement” or “measuring student learning”. The concept has been misleading educators into deluding themselves that the teaching and learning process can be analyzed/assessed using “scientific” methods which are actually pseudo-scientific at best and at worst a complete bastardization of rationo-logical thinking and language usage.
There never has been and never will be any “measuring” of the teaching and learning process and what each individual student learns in their schooling. There is and always has been assessing, evaluating, judging of what students learn but never a true “measuring” of it.
But, but, but, you’re trying to tell me that the supposedly august and venerable APA, AERA and/or the NCME have been wrong for more than the last 50 years, disseminating falsehoods and chimeras??
Who are you to question the authorities in testing???
Yes, they have been wrong and I (and many others, Wilson, Hoffman etc. . . ) question those authorities and challenge them (or any of you other advocates of the malpractices that are standards and testing) to answer to the following onto-epistemological analysis:
The TESTS MEASURE NOTHING, quite literally when you realize what is actually happening with them. Richard Phelps, a staunch standardized test proponent (he has written at least two books defending the standardized testing malpractices) in the introduction to “Correcting Fallacies About Educational and Psychological Testing” unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag with this statement:
“Physical tests, such as those conducted by engineers, can be standardized, of course [why of course of course], but in this volume , we focus on the measurement of latent (i.e., nonobservable) mental, and not physical, traits.” [my addition]
Notice how he is trying to assert by proximity that educational standardized testing and the testing done by engineers are basically the same, in other words a “truly scientific endeavor”. The same by proximity is not a good rhetorical/debating technique.
Since there is no agreement on a standard unit of learning, there is no exemplar of that standard unit and there is no measuring device calibrated against said non-existent standard unit, how is it possible to “measure the nonobservable”?
THE TESTS MEASURE NOTHING for how is it possible to “measure” the nonobservable with a non-existing measuring device that is not calibrated against a non-existing standard unit of learning?????
PURE LOGICAL INSANITY!
The basic fallacy of this is the confusing and conflating metrological (metrology is the scientific study of measurement) measuring and measuring that connotes assessing, evaluating and judging. The two meanings are not the same and confusing and conflating them is a very easy way to make it appear that standards and standardized testing are “scientific endeavors”-objective and not subjective like assessing, evaluating and judging.
That supposedly objective results are used to justify discrimination against many students for their life circumstances and inherent intellectual traits.
C’mon test supporters, have at the analysis, poke holes in it, tell me where I’m wrong!
I’m expecting that I’ll still be hearing the crickets and cicadas of tinnitus instead of reading any rebuttal or refutation.
Because there is no rebuttal/refutation!
Nancy Bailey says
Attempted measurement of learning would have been better on my part.
Thanks for such an informative comment, Duane. I especially like “That supposedly objective results are used to justify discrimination against many students for their life circumstances and inherent intellectual traits.” I don’t think as many will argue with you as you think!
Jim Katakowski says
Why isn’t Betsy DeVos looking at the new bill in Arizona to have teachers with relevant experience in an area to teach in there public schools? They want to call them teachers ridiculous.
Nancy Bailey says
Consider HER background, Jim!