PART I: The U.S. Department of Education & its Anti-Public Education Leader: Betsy DeVos
In order to understand the current state of the Arizona Public Education system and the devastating recent voucher expansion passed into law last week, we need to take a look at the corrupt state of Washington to fully understand how we got here and where DeVos hopes the nation will follow.
If you are anything like me you hope to consider yourself a moderately well-informed and active citizen – capable of sifting through “real” news and “fake” news to get to the bottom of our nations’ top issues. However, despite my best efforts, – in light of some of President Donald Trump’s picks for top federal positions I found myself (like many of you) confused, baffled and bewildered about the individuals placed in highly coveted and important government positions. Most confusing to me is Mr. Trump’s pick for U.S. Department of Education Secretary – a woman who appears to have lived her entire adult life steering money away from public schools.
My utter confusion led me straight to the U.S. Department of Education’s website where I hoped to find some clarity.
Congress established the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) on May 4, 1980 in the Department of Education Organization Act. Its stated mission is “to promote student achievement for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” The Department includes a bullet list of endeavors and at the very top of that list it states ED’s mission to “strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal education opportunity for every individual.”
Okay, now I am truly stumped. That clarity I was searching for with such hope is truly nowhere in sight because Secretary DeVos’ entire “philanthropic” career has been geared toward hindering equal access to quality education for our most vulnerable children with an eye towards supporting wealthier families.
Betsy DeVos is a longtime advocate for state sovereignty with respect to education matters and has spent a great deal of her career promoting private schools. DeVos was the chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), a national organization that promotes alternatives to public school. While the AFC takes no issue listing its grievances with the public school system its solution is to promote and create incentives for children to attend eligible private schools. Oddly enough the leader of the U.S. Department of Education chaired an organization that created alternatives to traditional public school rather than focusing on an approach to support and improve the free and comprehensive public school system already in place.
As if Ms. DeVos work with the AFC wasn’t enough to make you question the appropriateness of appointing and confirming her as our newest Secretary of Education – fraught with all the obvious innate conflicts of interest- perhaps even more puzzling is the fact that Ms. DeVos and her husband founded their very own public charter school, West Michigan Aviation Academy in 2010.
Yes… Really. No conflict of interest there! (Insert sarcasm emoji). Like traditional public schools, West Michigan receives public funding from the state.
Under the guise of promoting “school choice” for parents, Betsy DeVos and her affiliated organizations undermine the success of public schools and the fundamental goals of the U.S. Department of Education by funneling federal and state dollars into private schools through publicly funded school vouchers and charter schools. Ms. DeVos financial stake in a charter school and the vast amount of wealth her family has spent advocating policies that benefit alternative schooling makes her biased and dangerous to America, its values and all of its children.
Arizona’s Governor is hoping to impress Washington and its anti-education leaders. Along with his dark money institutions he hopes to turn our education system into the anti public education system. The very system that DeVos has advocated for her entire adult life and hopes to emulate and replicate throughout our country.
Stay tuned for PART II: The Terrible Case of Blaming the Victim- Arizona’s Public Education System
Follow Jessica Wani on Twitter @JessicaMarie11