Sunday, February 12, 2017
DeVos Critics' Hypocrisy on Public Schools
This was written before the DeVos confirmation but is still an excellent example of the empty space in Leftist brains where principles should be. They are ethical cripples
Today's U.S. Senate vote on Betsy DeVos should be a nail-biter. Every Democrat and two stray Republicans - Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - plan to oppose DeVos's nomination for secretary of education. This probably will trigger a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Mike Pence splitting the difference and confirming DeVos. If only one more Republican defects, DeVos will not survive. The outcome is unpredictable.
What is sadly and maddeningly predictable is the stench-inducing hypocrisy of Democrats who attack DeVos as a creature of private schools - even as they and their children have attended and otherwise benefited from private education.
"The basic reason I'll oppose her nomination is that I don't think she is committed to public education," Senator Robert Casey (D., Pa.) declared about DeVos. This could be easier to take from Casey, if he were the product of public education.
"Casey and his father are regarded as the most famous alumni of Scranton Preparatory School, a Catholic Jesuit preparatory day school in Pennsylvania," the Daily Signal reported last month. "Casey's daughters, Caroline Casey and Julia Madeline, also attended Scranton Prep."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) announced that "I have received thousands of letters, calls, and emails in opposition to her nomination, many of them citing the school voucher and privatization agenda Mrs. DeVos and her allies imposed in Michigan." He also addressed government-education advocates in Providence in December. As WPRI reported, "The senator also questioned whether DeVos had ever entered a public school, drawing laughs from the supportive roundtable."
While Whitehouse surely has entered a public school, he never studied in one until he had graduated from Yale and entered the University of Virginia Law School. Whitehouse is an alumnus of St. Paul's School, a private boarding institution set on 2,000 bucolic acres in New Hampshire. Whitehouse's daughter, Molly, studied at Providence's Wheeler School. His son, Alexander, also attended a private boarding school, as the Daily Caller discovered.
Whitehouse explained on the Senate floor in 2012 that he sent his kids to private campuses so that he could give them "the best education that I can for them, and I felt that, in their circumstances, the places that I chose to send them were the best schools for them."
Senator Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) rose last night to attack DeVos on the Senate floor. "Mrs. DeVos has shown no evidence of her commitment to be the torchbearer for both excellence and equity," Bennet complained. "And a commitment to competition without a commitment to equity would forsake our democratic ideal that a free, high-quality public education must open the doors of opportunity for all."
But Bennet did not walk through those doors. In fact, Bennet is a product of St. Albans, one of the most prestigious private schools in Washington, D.C. His daughter attended Denver's Logan School for Creative Learning, an exclusive private institution of learning.
According to the Daily Signal, Senators Casey, Whitehouse, and Bennet "never attended public school."
Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois also will oppose DeVos today. "She is not committed to public education, which is our first obligation as a government," Durbin told teachers unionists in Springfield on Saturday.
But during a March 2009 Senate debate on school choice in Washington, D.C., "Durbin, in turn, said he and his wife sent their kids out of the private system to get Catholic education," Politico reported. Durbin, himself, attended Assumption Catholic High School in East Saint Louis, Ill.
"Our children and families deserve better than a secretary of education who would work to gut our public school system," Senator Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) told the New Hampshire School Administrators Association yesterday.
Hassan's husband, Tom, was a school administrator. He was principal of the almost stereotypically highbrow Philips Exeter Academy, the Platonic form of American private education. The Hassans' daughter, Margaret, attended Exeter.
Too many Democrats ballyhoo the imploding government-school system for everyone else, especially poor black and Hispanic children, even as they and their spawn dive through the escape hatches onto private campuses. Ironically, multibillionaire education reformer Betsy DeVos favors private-school options available for low-income students in America's ghettos and barrios.
The fact that Senate Democrats are lined up unanimously to stop her - under orders of their teachers'-union owners - highlights the moral rot at the core of America's so-called party of the little guy.
DeVos Brings a Fresh Approach to Education
She also threatens the Left's stranglehold on "educating" our children
The path to her new job was nowhere near easy, and perhaps it was because Betsy DeVos came from such a non-traditional background to become the secretary of education under Donald Trump. Not only did she not attend public schools as a child, she and her husband sent their children to a private Christian school, knowing that "we had the resources to send our kids to whatever school was best for them," as she told Philanthropy Magazine in 2013. Once there, they helped other families who were less fortunate, and their commitment to this cause led to the American Federation for Children, which is a 501(c)(4) organization that promotes school choice.
With that said, it's no wonder that the educational establishment reacted to DeVos's nomination like Dracula to a crucifix. And they nearly succeeded in derailing her confirmation; their effort failed only because the Senate's 50-50 tie was broken by Vice President Mike Pence. It's fortunate that Jeff Sessions was still a senator and not yet attorney general, or DeVos wouldn't have been able to overcome the two Republican defectors (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) who joined all 48 Democrats in opposition to her.
Yet there's a major philosophical question at work here: Why is this such a big deal to the Left when the American educational system is failing on so many counts? Aside from the fact that Democrats have for decades been beholden to the campaign cash of the teachers' unions, the DeVos idea of enhancing school choice also threatens the Left's stranglehold on educating (read: indoctrinating) America's children.
Certainly there are parents who sacrifice financially to send their children to parochial schools or do the job themselves, but the vast majority of kids attend public schools - and that's the way the teachers' unions like it. Their job security, which is already in jeopardy thanks to declining inner-city school enrollment, is further threatened if DeVos upsets the apple cart by making school choice the law of the land. Recently retired conservative columnist Thomas Sowell penned a piece to make the case for her, saying that failure to confirm her would mean "a historic opportunity would be lost, and may never come again in this generation."
Reports, though, say that DeVos is off to a good start. "For starters," she told an expectant group of 200 employees at the department's Washington headquarters, "Please know that I'm a `door open' person who listens more than she speaks." She went on to promise that the department would find new ways to positively transform education.
The Left, of course, remains unconvinced, and ironically is now threatening to use school choice and teach their children at home. This isn't something new to the affluent left-wingers who live within urban areas (like Washington, DC) and can choose to send their kids to elite private schools rather than the decrepit public schools there, but the rank-and-file progressives must truly buy the hype about DeVos to speak about such things openly like this.
But there is an escape clause for the progressives, should they choose to take it. On Wednesday, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced what may be the most spectacularly succinct bill in a generation: It simply reads, "The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018." Whether intentional or not, this would be known as calling the Left's bluff regarding DeVos.
Somehow we suspect they'll learn to live with a reformer in charge at the Department of Education rather than lose Jimmy Carter's cabinet creation entirely.
Protesters block DeVos from entering DC school
How weak, pathetic and ineffectual. All they did was keep parents from meeting with Sec DeVos, and voicing their concerns
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was greeted with protesters when she tried to enter a Washington middle school on Friday morning.
A video from the scene shows DeVos walking away from one entrance of Jefferson Middle School after being physically blocked from the entrance. One protester stood in front of the stairway entrance in the school, and DeVos walked back to her vehicle.
"Keep giving money to senators and buying your way to the position," one man holding a Black Lives Matter sign says to her, according to a video from ABC reporter Sam Sweeney. "I hope you're proud of yourself."
"Go back," the protestor yells and she enters the car. "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
DeVos was reportedly able to eventually enter the school for an event that included D.C. schools chancellor.
Crowds of protesters gathered ahead of DeVos's visit to the school, according to reports. Her visit, her first as secretary of Education to a public K-12 school, was reportedly organized by the Washington teachers union, which did not support her nomination.
Parents and teachers gathered holding signs opposing the controversial Education secretary.
"Betsy DeVos does not play well with others - should be held back," one sign read.
"Public schools support our kids and their American Dreams," read another.
The Senate confirmed DeVos on Tuesday to lead the Department of Education after Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking vote, the first time ever a vice president has done so for a Cabinet nominee.
The GOP mega-donor was met with fierce opposition from Democrats and teachers unions who voiced opposition to her support for charter schools and tuition vouchers.
Senate Democrats held an all-night debate to protest DeVos's nomination ahead of her confirmation vote.
"This is a sad day for children," the American Federation of Teachers president said in a statement following DeVos's confirmation.
Posted by jonjayray at 1:42 AM