Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries;
But Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate!
First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes;
And then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.
But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!
Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, “Stop thief.”
Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit
She may be portrayed as a not so bright bunny, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a cabinet official with a plan. Don’t think for a minute that she is working alone. She has corporate school reformers backing her. Like Peter Rabbit they’re eating up the public school garden.
The other day she appeared before Congress. The New York Times reported that she has been hiding plans to overhaul the United States Department of Education (USDOE). Not only does she want to destroy public schools, eliminating teacher protections, and deregulating education programs, she wants to abolish federal oversight.
I have conservative friends who would be happy for this to happen. They believe the closer they get to operating their own schools the better it will be.
They have a point. Public schools are supposed to be democratic, and involvement by citizens at the local level through legitimate school boards, not corrupted by outside corporations, is important.
Some also like the idea of choice and want funding to send their children to private or religious schools. But most of us don’t want to pay for choice, because we still believe in strong public schools that serve everybody’s kids.
The truth is, America has been on negative trajectory when it comes to public education for many years, since Milton Friedman designed his choice plan wanting to privatize everything in America. The USDOE has reflected those negative changes. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you want to blame someone for all the problems we have with our public schools today, blame Friedman.
Marketing public schools was his passion, and we can see these forces at play in public schools today. From charter schools, Common Core, AP and a variety of nonprofits that come to school masquerading as teachers, choice was the endgame.
This can be likened to no regulations, and that’s exactly what DeVos and her ilk want. Eventually, there won’t be any public schools.
Many have come to realize that choice means children will be homeschooled facing computer screens, or they will attend charter schools with computers and “coaches” or “facilitators” instead of teachers.
Destroying regulations is a serious step backwards towards making this a reality.
Sometimes it’s easier to demonstrate how serious deregulation can be if we look outside of education. Deregulating is currently a threat to many professions and institutions.
A recent Stanford Graduate Business School report asks “Should We Stop Licensing Doctors and Lawyers?” Do you want a surgeon who has no license? I don’t know about you, but when I visit a doctor’s office for the first time, I look for authentic university degrees, and I also check online to see that they are licensed.
The USDOE is supposed to provide education oversight. Special education law means children with disabilities get services. The corrupted USDOE has been chipping away at the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act even before DeVos.
Parents who sign on to vouchers to private schools, are not informed about the IDEA protections they are losing. The more IDEA regulations are trimmed, the less the oversight, and the fewer the services.
DeVos will cut $1 million from the Office of Civil Rights. There will be cuts to safety and after school programs too. She plans to make cuts from these programs, while adding funding to choice.
How hard has this country fought to give every child, no matter their color, differences, or economic level, the right to a free public education?
Do you think your state and local school district will follow regulations involving your children and services without USDOE oversight?
Ask Texas parents whose children were not served due to the elimination of special education services. The USDOE should be keeping them in check.
Also, Common Core may have been sanctioned by the USDOE, but the states were fully onboard from the start!
DeVos is an extremist controlled by her extremist corporate friends. Destroying the USDOE instead of fixing it, will mean the destruction of rules that provide programs and keep our children safe.
Not all bunnies are naughty, but for the ones who are, fortunately this country has a lot of Farmer McGregors who want to drive the thieves out of our garden.
Let’s send all those destructive bunnies into the sunset!
Karen Bracken says
Time for us to file a law suit against the US Dept. of Education.
Nancy Bailey says
Karen, We need to have a better functioning USDOE but we still need state oversight and regulations. Here’s a list of what we’d lose from the Center for American Progress:
• 8 million students every year would lose Pell grants
• 490,000 or more teacher positions could be eliminated
• $1.3 trillion in student loans would be at risk
• 23.9 million* low-income students would lose $15 billion of Title I funding annually
• 5 million children and students with disabilities would lose $12.7 billion used every year to ensure that they receive a quality education
• 750,000 or more students from military families, Native American students, students living in U.S. territories, and students living on federal property or Native American lands would lose $1.1 billion per year for their schools
• 4,000 or more rural school districts would lose more than $175 million used annually to help improve the quality of teaching and learning in many hard-to-staff schools
• $700 million used by states to support the 5 million English language learners currently in public schools—representing close to 10 percent of all students—would be cut
• Low-income students would lose $15 billion of Title I funding annually.
Complete article. https://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/education/news/2016/09/01/162258/trumps-plan-to-eliminate-the-department-of-education-is-yet-another-in-a-list-of-terrible-ideas/
Lisa M says
I’m sorry, but I would like to see USDoE abolished. I certainly believe that there are some departments that need to be kept in tact, but I think that those departments can be incorporated into other areas of government regulation. The USDoE is a massive black hole of money mismanagement and costly mandates. I don’t think Jimmy Carter had any idea what it would turn out to be when he developed this department.
Nancy Bailey says
Lisa, Please see my reply to Karen above. Thank you.
Lisa M says
I read your reply to Karen and I still believe that the USDoE needs to go away. All of those programs and tax dollars could be managed elsewhere. There is so much waste and mismanagement of tax dollars. There are so many contracts with Big Business that siphon tax dollars AWAY from public schools. It needs a big DO OVER and the only way that can happen is if it is broken down and the smaller parts managed by other departments. I don’t like DeVos in any way, but she is just more of the same of what we’ve had for 15-20 years now….except that she is brutally honest about her intentions and she doesn’t try to convince the public that it’s all rainbows and unicorns for public education.
Nancy Bailey says
Big business is also tied to the states and local government. The point of the post. The problem is corporate reform pushing for the destruction of public schools. That waste is their involvement in the USDOE. Betsy DeVos represents corporate reform.
Many programs will lose all protections. DeVos wants to see this happen.
I do agree that democrats have been apart of corporate school reform too. That we agree on.
Lisa M says
But at a local level it is easier for parents and teachers to do something. We, as parents have no say in the education of our children. Corporate reform is pushing for privatization, vouchers and charters because that’s what will ultimately keep them a steady stream of education tax dollars and or investment opportunities. As it stands right now, it is one stop shopping for big business….they only have to deal with USDoE and the parents are disengaged from any decisions made about their own children. Break it down, take the most important parts and incorporate them into other departments and return control to the states and local governments. The basic idea of the department was to oversee the states to make sure that children’s needs were being met with federal education tax dollars. All we have gotten is mismanagement of those tax dollars. Locally, we can do nothing for our own public school children because of mandates by the federal government. I find that I agree with most of what you write, but this is one area where I think you could never change my mind.
Nancy Bailey says
Lisa, Ha. When you say “never” I see that as a challenge! ( :
Perhaps using Texas as an example would help me get my point across.
For years the State of Texas (Texas Education Agency) eliminated special ed. services for children. Many children were denied services that were legally theirs!
IDEA is a federal law. If the USDOE was working right, it would have penalized the Texas Education Agency. But they were asleep on the draw, or maybe they knew about it and allowed it.
Since IDEA is a federal law, without the USDOE what will happen to it?
The terrible Texas situation happened at the state level but permeated down to the local level!
The USDOE did not provide the necessary oversight. Rules do protect children. Without them, there will be no programs or public schools for that matter. There will be more situations like Texas.
The USDOE has been complicit with corporate reform. DeVos is a great example of this! No one will argue with you that the agency is corrupt now, but it shouldn’t be. It should extend better oversight of the laws that it oversees.
Throwing out the whole agency means this will never happen. That’s exactly what DeVos and her corporate friends want. Without the USDOE We will return to the wild west and any hope of ever getting quality public schools and good programs for ALL children, will disintegrate.
If you have an ounce of respect for DeVos’s ideas you are all in for corporate school reform and don’t like public schools anyway, thus we are on opposite sides of the fence.
But if you like some of my stuff there’s hope we can shake hands about the USDOE. It needs to be better certainly. There we agree.
Lisa M says
I was schooled in the late 60’s to early 80’s and I have siblings 10+ years older than me. We went to great public schools and our social status was lower middle class….my gosh, we put a man on the moon! We had no federal mandates imposed upon us and we all turned out to be very fine citizens. I get your point about Texas, but I think that is in the minority. The USDoE is broken and it is like a hydra with many bad heads that keep reappearing as one is lopped off. The only way to slay the hydra is to pierce it through the heart. I do believe there are federal programs that need to be saved, but there are other agencies that are better suited to do that now. The USDoE is one big pot of cash that corporate hyenas are salivating over. Corporate interests have one stop shopping at the USDoE with that big pot of funds and it’s easy for them to get their greedy hands on it. If they had to work harder for our money (tax dollars), they wouldn’t have the ability to get as much and more could be spent at ground zero…the schools/classrooms. We will have to disagree on this one. USDoE needs to go.