Defend Public Education from DeVos Money Grab

Former Madison superintendent Dr. John Sweet thinks billionaire Betsy DeVos is a really bad choice for U.S. Secretary of Education. The retired education expert urges us to write our Senators, especially our Republican Senators, to reject this nomination:

It was the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that said “Education is the most important subject we can be engaged in.” Free public education for all is a major underpinning of democracy. That underpinning is threatened by the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. She wants to institute vouchers, which send public money to private schools. And this could include private schools set up by Islamic extremists. Don’t let the extremists that are taking over our government get by with this. Mail senators, especially Republican senators from the party of Lincoln, urging them to oppose her nomination. You can start the process here [Dr. John Sweet, Facebook post, 2016.11.29].

The idea that the incoming administration would use public dollars to support private schools, all in the name of “choice,” strikes me as absurd. The federal government doesn’t send our tax dollars to rent-a-cop shops to compete with the FBI, state highway patrols, and city police. We don’t hand vouchers to citizens and say, “Here, choose your fire department!” Instead of undermining the government’s obligation to provide one free, fair, and universal public education system by subsidizing a whole nother private system, I’d rather Trump (and his toady Mike Rounds) return to his campaign promise (ha!) to eliminate the Department of Education.

So might my conservative neighbor Dr. Art Marmorstein, who pens his own suspicions about DeVos in my morning paper:

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for education secretary, seems to have her heart in right place. She’s worked hard to give students and their parents more schooling options. But she’s another of those billionaire charter school advocates, and she may end up using her position to further accelerate the shift from traditional public schools to the charters — much to the disappointment of those of us who want to see the ring of federal education department power cast into the fires of Mount Doom where it belongs [Dr. Art Marmorstein, “Ring of Education Power Dangerous on Any Hand,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.12.01].

Join Drs. Sweet and Marmorstein in opposing Trump’s education agenda. Don’t let the Trumpist regime enrich certain private school players with public dollars. Keep DeVos out of Education, and keep our public dollars in public schools, where they belong.


21 Responses to Defend Public Education from DeVos Money Grab

  1. So you’re not pro-choice? That’s surprising.

    The “free, fair, and universal” is hard to achieve given that it assumes a fairly broad consensus as to what constitutes “fair”. The multi-cultural and diversity industries have largely broken down that consensus. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know, but it is so. Which means no matter what you put into that education system, there will be significant groups who are disadvantaged by it. So, do we allow these groups to use tax dollars for their children’s education as they wish, or do we insist that they send their children to schools that will squash their cultural values?

    Yes, I would rather eliminate the federal department of education and leave it to the several states, but that’s not likely to happen in my lifetime. Given this, I would prefer the money spent follow the student in primary and secondary education, just as it does in post-secondary education (college and grad school). And I’m okay with excluding sectarian religious schools from this particular gravy train (in large part because I want to protect the religious schools from undue, and unhealthy, government interference). I wouldn’t mind excluding sectarian religious colleges and universities from federal student subsidies, too, and for the same reason.

  2. Speaking of using words cleverly…. ;-)

    I support school choice. I defend all parents’ right to educate their children as they see fit (within the bounds of the law, of course, ensuring that the kids actually are getting educated and not just playing hooky, or being discriminated against in some way that the boys get taught but the girls don’t).

    However, we all have an obligation to support the public education system that guarantees education for every child. If parents want to pursue other options, that’s on their dime. If private providers want to provide alternatives, they do so without subsidy. We already subsidize the public system 100% (well, something less than 100% in South Dakota, where teachers work for well below the national median and buy a lot of their own classroom supplies); the state has no obligation to provide additional funding to alternative private systems.

    If the public system does create disadvantages for any child, our obligation is to eliminate those disadvantages in the public system, not divert dollars to the private system and leave those disadvantages in the public system in place.

  3. mike from iowa

    Fair to wingnuts is ignoring the constitution and pushing as much taxpayer money as they can grab and throwing it to their base supporters for private, religious and for profit schools. Wingnuts decide they don’t like a government program they go out of their way to make sure it fails. Then they offer illegal fixes to a problem they themselves created.

  4. Donald Pay

    Betsy DeVos has absolutely no experience in education. She is a crooked billionaire political operative allied with the Kochs and the Bradleys. Their goal is the destruction of public education.

    Yesterday’s Capital Times editorial laid out the facts on DeVos lays out some of her various astro-turf political groups’ crooked behavior in corrupting the political process:

    –All Children Matter, was fined a record $5.2 million by the Ohio Elections Commission for illegally shifting money into the state to support candidates considered friendly to private-school “choice” initiatives.

    –All Children Matter was also fined for political misconduct in Wisconsin, where the secretive group’s 2006 campaigning violated campaign finance laws by expressly urging voters to cast ballots against legislative candidates who were strong backers of public education.

    –All Children Matter evolved into the American Federation for Children, which has collected money from a who’s who of right-wing millionaires and billionaires, including the political operations of right-wing donors Charles and David Koch.

    –American Federation for Children has poured millions of dollars into Wisconsin election campaigns since 2010. That spending has played a critical role in keeping Scott Walker and his allies in power.

    The key here is that none of the money they pour in goes to education. They don’t fund classrooms. They don’t fund teachers. They don’t fund programs. They use their money to bribe politicians to shift your tax dollars into their schools where they can make a profit. Voucher programs has not improved education in Wisconsin or elsewhere. In fact, all of their political activity has been to support candidates who will help degrade public education.

    In Wisconsin vouchers started out as a way to assist poor students get out of failing public schools. It has now evolved into a program that provides your tax dollars to middle class and wealthy folks already send their children to fancy private schools. Improving education through vouchers failed. It’s now just one more subsidy to the wealthy.

    http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/editorial/editorial-wisconsin-knows-betsy-devos-is-a-horrible-pick-for/article_9925e685-eaee-51ce-a300-e5f6c2497a79.html

  5. Donald Pay

    Betsy DeVos has absolutely no experience in education. She is a crooked billionaire political operative allied with the Kochs and the Bradleys. Their goal is the destruction of public education.

    Yesterday’s Capital Times editorial laid out the facts on DeVos lays out some of her various astro-turf political groups’ crooked behavior in corrupting the political process:

    –All Children Matter, was fined a record $5.2 million by the Ohio Elections Commission for illegally shifting money into the state to support candidates considered friendly to private-school “choice” initiatives.

    –All Children Matter was also fined for political misconduct in Wisconsin, where the secretive group’s 2006 campaigning violated campaign finance laws by expressly urging voters to cast ballots against legislative candidates who were strong backers of public education.

    –All Children Matter evolved into the American Federation for Children, which has collected money from a who’s who of right-wing millionaires and billionaires, including the political operations of right-wing donors Charles and David Koch.

    –American Federation for Children has poured millions of dollars into Wisconsin election campaigns since 2010. That spending has played a critical role in keeping Scott Walker and his allies in power.

    The key here is that none of the money they pour in goes to education. They don’t fund classrooms. They don’t fund teachers. They don’t fund programs. They use their money to bribe politicians to shift your tax dollars into their schools where they can make a profit. Voucher programs has not improved education in Wisconsin or elsewhere. In fact, all of their political activity has been to support candidates who will help degrade public education.

    In Wisconsin vouchers started out as a way to assist poor students to get out of failing public schools. It has now evolved into a program that provides your tax dollars to middle class and wealthy folks already sending their children to fancy private schools. Improving education through vouchers failed. It’s now just one more subsidy to the wealthy.

    http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/editorial/editorial-wisconsin-knows-betsy-devos-is-a-horrible-pick-for/article_9925e685-eaee-51ce-a300-e5f6c2497a79.html

  6. mike from iowa

    Mr Pay, you beat me to that opinion piece twice. I just read it and was going to leave it here.

  7. You will start seeing more of the phrase “government schools” replacing “public education” from the new right in an effort to erode support for public schools.

    I had this discussion with my mother-in-law about funding education. Too often we let people get away with the misconception that they pay taxes to send THEIR kids to school. That allows the idea of choice (beyond public options) to creep in and justifies the outrage some can feel for paying taxes for services that they do not (no longer) benefit from. We maintain public schools for the public good PERIOD. A public school system, which admits ALL children, is valuable to our society. I pay for roads I do not drive on, farm subsidies I do not collect on, medicare that I do not collect on, but support all those for the public good.

    Public education needs to be the issue on which we make the clear stand that the public good and not individual greed drives best policy. Instead of only funding and supporting the school your child attends, we ought to fund and support schools so that we would send our children to ANY of them.

  8. Eve Fisher

    How Republicans work: “Take an oversight agency. Staff it with people who hate it. Let them ignore the rules until the rules die of thirst. Take this as proof that “government” always fails. Profit!”

  9. Donald Pay

    Just last thing about the DeVos political operation in Wisconsin. The righty political operatives figured out that many of the private voucher/charter schools they’ve been pouring Wisconsin tax money into for 20 years are crap, just awful ripoffs. They were sold on the assumption that private education vouchers would provide competition that would magically improve education. But that hasn’t happened. If anything, vouchers have caused educational scores to regress relative to non-voucher states.

    Of course, the righties haven’t apologized for wasting over twenty years of state tax dollars on private schools vouchers. They have, though, switched tactics somewhat. They have started to partner with established parochial schools to get taxpayer funded vouchers to pay for parochial/Christian education. Essentially, they are giving this to current students in parochial schools. They aren’t making the case anymore that poor kids ought to get the opportunity to go to these schools. This is just a straight out vote-buying scheme for Walker and his cronies.

  10. mike from iowa

    Wingnuts hate oversight to begin with. The sooner they can make it fail, the sooner they can call it a failure.

    Drumpf is getting his cabinet selection ideas from dumbass dubya. Take the person most opposed to the department they are picked to oversee.

  11. Robert McTaggart

    Groucho Marx said it best….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHash5takWU

  12. So will Schopp leave if we just have vouchers.

  13. mike from iowa

    Doc, my humblest apology for misspelling your last name yesterday. My life is yours for the taking.

  14. Robert McTaggart

    No problemo…I’ve seen worse misspellings.

    But I’ll leave the camel discussion to others ;^).

  15. Dang, Super Sweet: to make up for those 490K lost teacher jobs, Trump will have to spend $3.1 billion on 450 Carrier/UT-type corporate welfare deals… and even then, he won’t be creating new jobs for those laid-off teachers; he’ll just be reducing the number of jobs Trump lets go to Mexico. Hmm… does Mexico need English teachers?

  16. Porter Lansing

    It matters little if Carrier job emigration is mitigated, temporarily. What matters is that no company or person is going to buy Carrier air conditioners if they’re priced 25% higher than the ones made in a third world country. Carrier products aren’t any better than Trane, Lennox, Rheem, Amana or York and people don’t “Buy American”, except maybe in small rural states. People buy dependability and price.

  17. Porter Lansing

    Sorry, sorry. I meant to post the above comment in the Heidelberger post about Trump saving jobs.

  18. That’s o.k., Porter: I lured you in by connecting the Carrier jobs issue to all the public school teacher jobs our Führer will eliminate.