Exploring Betsy DeVos and Newton’s Law

Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos (née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is an American businesswoman, philanthropist, and education activist from Michigan. DeVos is a prominent member of the Republican Party known for her advocacy of school choice, voucher programs, and ties to the Reformed Christian community.[1][2][3] She was Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997 and served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000, with reelection to the post in 2003. DeVos was one of the architects of the Detroit charter school system and she is a member of the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She has served as chairwoman of the board of Alliance for School Choice and heads the All Children Matter PAC. DeVos is married to Dick DeVos and is the daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos, the founder of Amway with an estimated net worth of $5.1 billion.[4] Her brother, Erik Prince, is the founder of Blackwater Worldwide.[5][6] DeVos is the daughter of Edgar Prince founder of the Prince Corporation.[7][8]

On November 23, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education in his incoming administration.[9

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is a think tank on education reform based in Tallahassee, Florida.

The foundation was established by Jeb Bush, shortly after his tenure as Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.[1][2] It has received donations from Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Eli Broad, as well as Connections Education, a subsidiary of Pearson PLC, and Amplify, a subsidiary of NewsCorp.[1][2]

The education reform policies suggested by the foundation have influenced Mitch Daniels, the Republican Governor of Indiana.[2] Nicky Morgan, the British Secretary of State for Education, spoke at the 2014 Foundation for Excellence in Education Summit on November 20, 2014.[3]

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has served as its Chairman since January 2015.[4][5]

I invite Professor Steve Newton to engage in this conversation in a way of not bashing those who voted for Trump or going off in a Trump rant unrelated to education. Steve’s views, opinion and commitment to the betterment of public education is valued. 

For me , I never heard of this lady prior until Trump nominating her as the next U. S . Secretary of Education. Hopefully we can try to discuss her position on public education without outright attacks on her but on her positions.

I’ll start and welcome all to particulate. For those of you who are new and hesitant to engage in blog discussions I don’t out people coming in with bogus names. If you are still uncomfortable I suggest this, create a yahoo E-mail address and name. I value all opinions and protect visitor’s ID’s . If you engage in name calling towards others that is on you and you’ll get whats coming to you in the way of response. Your opinion is your’s and I find in debate comes truth in the middle. I’ve learn from myself and others. 

As far as Betsy DeVos you can see she is aligned with many so-called education reformers such as Jeb Bush, Bill Gate , Eli Broad and other radical non-traditional education supporters. Me, I am convinced many democrats are aligned with this group of people! Under President Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan we had Race to The Top, Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment and great support for choice schools and charters. Vouchers and online virtual schools schools didn’t make much traction under the Obama administration. But it looks clear they will be added during the Trump administration.  

Betsy DeVos seems to claim she wants to improve public education for the sake of at-risk students whom many are minority. But in my opinion what is being created goes beyond the needs of at-risk students and sever the more affluent.

Lets look at Delaware public school landscape:

Charter Schools one choice: One big issues for some is the Specific Interest student admission preference protected by state law and then the admission tests. Does this help at-risk students? My opinion again, Creating charter schools to specifically serve at-risk students creates a de facto segregated school and with current public school funding sets students and teachers up for continue failure. Yes there are exceptions to the rule! But few! Charter schools do pose an negative backlash on traditional  public schools. Charter school attract many bright well academic achieving students who obviously have parents advocating this change for them, BUT same goes for parent of at-risk charter school students. Many parent of at-risk charters know their child don’t fair much better in a charter school. But why do they make this choice? Some think charter schools have better approaches to student discipline and many parents want their children safe. However, we know charter schools’ answers to addressing disrupting student is kick them out and send them back to district traditional schools. On the flip-side, traditional public schools  can’t kick their disruptive students out and send them to charter schools. They are required to provide alternative placements. Charter schools seem to have a lower number (%) of special ed students. I think we all agree the $$$ resources to support special needs student is greater. In Delaware we have seen some charter school forced closed by the state due financial instability and poor academic performance. We don’t see traditional public schools force closed but we have seen forced turnaround with shifting of administrator. Now we’re seeing charter school cry fowl for more funding! To  an extent they sued Christina School District! Remember charters original sell? “Charters can do it better for less” !   

Magnet schools operated by traditional school district: Pretty much a charter school structure without its own school board of director. They are excluded from being feeder-schools. Many of the same argument as with charter schools. Red Clay has Cab and Conrad both not geared to meet the needs of at-risk or special ed. Red Clay made Conrad a feeder-school an all choice magnet school! The did so citing NCLB forced them But remember Conrad’s failure was poor academic performance among At-risk African-American students! Red Clay’s answer was to shift neighborhood students to other middle school such as A.I. , Stanton and Skyline. The move creating an all choice magnet school attracted white distinct student flip-flopping the student diversity of Conrad! It did nothing to help the most neediest students.

Choice school options beyond charter and magnet schools: Sounds good on paper and politician claim Delaware students can pick their schools! But not so! First there needs to be open seats beyond feeder students and then there is the transportation barriers. Choice students must find their own way to and from the Choice school or to a bus-stop with in the Choice school feeder-pattern. Many parents of at-risk students don’t have adequate personal transportation.

Home Schools: Delaware allows parents to home school their children: From the Delaware Department of Education: The DDOE does not endorse, accredit, approve or monitor curriculum for any nonpublic school (private or homeschool), or validate any type of credential provided by those schools.  Students and parents/guardians must investigate the school themselves and ask if they are accredited.  Students and parents/guardians may wish to contact a college, university, training program, licensing entities, or employer to determine if they will accept the diploma from the nonpublic school under consideration.” and “Homeschool ;There are two types of homeschool options in Delaware: Single Family Homeschool – The education of one’s own child(ren) primarily by the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of such child(ren) mainly in their own residence. Multi-Family Homeschool – The education of children, primarily by the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of such children mainly in one or several residences, or other facilities, when such children are not all related to each other as brother or sister. A person shall act as a liaison to the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) for reporting enrollment and attendance information for all families involved.” Read more here see: DE DOE Homeschools

Delaware does not have School Vouchers where parents get perhaps equal funding to apply those funds to a private school. There is legislation kicking around in Delaware to create education savings accounts!  Pretty much school vouchers. The seed approach is for at-risk students. But my guess it will lead to all students or charter and traditional schools not meeting academic standards. So these kids will go to private schools whereas private schools’ academic performance isn’t measured and for the most part aren’t accustom in serving at-risk or special needs schools. Will new private schools popup to fill the needs? Will some charter schools close and reopen as private schools to get out from state regulations? My fear is traditional public schools will become melting pots with higher concentration of at-risk student whose parent don’t step up and get them out and of course parents who believe in the traditional school system.

Online aka virtual charter schools: I believe Pennsylvania has online charter schools where student stay home and logon! Might be good for parents who want to home-school  but don’t have the ability to teach their child in a traditional home-school setting. I do believe we are seeing some online classes offered to traditional and charter schools.

Will Betsy DeVos pull all stops out and push for online schools and school vouchers? I’d say yes! However, I do believe state laws must be adapted to allow other choice options! We know there are state legislators on the Republican side foaming at the mouth to get school savings accounts aka vouchers. Once again like Race to The Top the Washington carrot on the stick will be $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and surely if we don’t and surrounding state do, we’ll here this BS Delaware can’t compete in the global economy! At the end of the day, Governor John  Carney will control the ball! Online schools ?? I see it like this! If Delaware bought into it, the odds are the central base for these online schools will be in Delaware and all online instructors must be Delaware licensed and certified! Will the instructor be required to living in Delaware and work from home? Be able  to take part of being in a union like DSEA ? Again the ball will be in Delaware Governor John Carney’s hand.

Will Betsy DeVos eliminate Common Core Standards and federally mandates standardized testing? Most likely but not until after she lays the foundation for vouchers and online charter schools and perhaps more federal funding for charter schools

Yes professor it would rip the seams of traditional public education wide-open and that’s a bad thing! At the end of the day our at-risk children will still be at-risk!

I am still convinced the entire radical public school reform movement is all about breaking the backs of the largest and most organized union in America ! The teacher unions! And its not about providing better education for all! Its about taking out the strongest union to take out the trade unions nest to eliminate prevailing wages! After that it will be state and federal workers unions. My opinion folks !!! Just that!!!

Like I said, its up to the states to buy into any of these possible changes and the new quarterback will be Governor John Carney. And for local school boards! Please get your superintendents out of politics! Nothing personal but Merv should have never been part of Markell’s Race to The Top D.C. Dream Team! And how in the hell did we allow Skipper at the table?? If we are to want local control at the school and district level we must TAKE IT!   

Yes professor your crystal ball may be accurate! But there are many parents out there who will want these choices !! Do we publicly chastise parents who take advantage of any of these schools? Do we fault them for putting their child first without giving a rat’s ass of any fallout on traditional schools?  Not me! If we give a mother the right to abort her unborn child is giving parents many choice options for public funded education a crime or reason to chastise them? Nope!

Steve you are a good man, educator and have far greater insight on political issues than I. We all see the world from our on eyes from our own experiences. I am sorry if I offended you as I felt offended! You don’t see sorry coming from this blog too often! Your friendship is valued but so is free speech right or perceived wrong. It may be your time to shine and enlighten everyone in how to defend off unwelcome changes! I think we as a group failed to do that with RTTT, Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment and back to the days of DSTP and those damn 3-tiered diplomas grading our children like cattle.  Sorry for the blog title ! Just one of those tricks to make you look!        


2 responses to “Exploring Betsy DeVos and Newton’s Law

  1. The title made me look. And I’d like to respond in the detail that it merits. Which means, unfortunately, not until the middle or end of the week, as there are 125 students to receive grades, and two major reports I have to get done before December 23.

    I do have one question (a serious, not snarky or rhetorical question). Does DeVos actually possess the power to end Common Core? I say that because we’ve all considered it more or less a fiction that States individually and of their own free will adopted CC, but that’s in fact legally what they did. The US DOE position has always been that CC was a decision by the States, and that such decisions were their prerogative. So could DeVos now actually require an end to CC, or would she merely say that US DOE will no longer consider CC to meet whatever requirements the States are using it for?

    If that’s the case, I’d think this would set up a showdown at Corporate Gulch between DeVos and the handful of education corporations coining money off Common Core, and if there’s one thing we can predict will be a mantra of the new regime, it’s that corporate profits are good for America.

    In the meantime, as food for thought, here’s a look at what Betsy DeVos did for (to?) Michigan public schools. Don’t let the WaPo URL fool you; it’s primarily a reprinting of material that has appeared elsewhere.



  2. kilroysdelaware

    Re: Common core and the powers of the U.S.Sec. your are correct! in that opinion.

    I guess we’re been high-jacked someone with RTTT, Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessment with none were federal mandates and “encouraged” by Duncan who seemed to have free run of USDOE. The states did form the CC state and SB consortium. I guess it supports my argument that in comes down to the states and influential power over the governor. RTTT $$$$ came at a desperate time for the state. And RTTT funding was from the American Rectory Act 2009 and the ARA was to be about saving and creating job. Well that it did!

    DeVos may have free run to expand he agenda! She is there and there id nothing we can do!

    So the question to you is, how do we fend of vouchers and online charters? Am I wrong to believe Governor Carney would have an active role either way?

    Thanks for responding and it wasn’t a trap to disrespect you!