Tag Archives: Betsy DeVos

Trump shows his ignorance yet again

Donald John “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump threatens to pull federal funds from public schools if they don’t reopen this fall, per his edict.

Sigh …

No, he is not going to do that. He has no authority to do anything of the sort. Donald Trump once again is showing us what he doesn’t know about the job to which he was elected … and from which I hope he gets booted out in about 120 days.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace challenged an assertion delivered by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday. DeVos repeated Trump’s threat, to which Wallace told her that Congress appropriates federal funds for public schools. Wallace asked “Under what authority are you and the president going to unilaterally cut off funding, funding that’s been approved from Congress and most of the money goes to disadvantaged students or students with disabilities?” “You can’t do that,” he continued.

That means that Trump is out of the game.

DeVos didn’t answer the question directly. She couldn’t answer. Because she is as ignorant about government as Donald Trump. She did say, “Look, American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”

Americans are getting sick from the COVID-19 pandemic in increasing numbers. That poses threats to students, teachers and their loved ones. Donald Trump’s demand that schools reopen this fall runs directly counter to the medical advice he is getting from the infectious disease experts with whom he has surrounded himself.

Oh, wait! He knows more than they do. Isn’t that what he has inferred … about anything?

Betsy DeVos is no ‘educator’

As I watched Betsy DeVos evade, bob and weave and avoid answering questions today about how she intends to make public school classrooms safe for children and their teachers, I am struck by a brutal reality.

It is that the secretary of education is as unqualified for her job as the man who selected her to guide public education policy, Donald Trump, is unqualified for his job.

CNN’s Dana Bash sought to get DeVos to commit to a strategy for how she intends to advise local school leaders struggling to make classrooms safe for human habitation after they closed them because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos couldn’t answer. Or she wouldn’t answer. Couldn’t, wouldn’t. It makes no never mind to me. I sense she doesn’t have a clue.

She was selected by Trump to lead a massive education agency even though she has no experience with public education. She was educated in private schools; she sent her children to private schools; DeVos is known to be a huge advocate for voucher programs that take money from public school districts to pay for private schools.

There’s all of that, plus there’s this: Betsy DeVos doesn’t have an ounce of political cache that she can spend. When the U.S. Senate got around to voting on her confirmation, it ended with a tie, leaving the decision up to the Senate’s presiding officer, Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote. It was the first such vote in U.S. Senate confirmation history.

To my way of thinking, Betsy DeVos has no business setting public education policy for millions of American children, their parents and the educators who teach them. She continues to demonstrate her ignorance or disinterest in public education.

I suppose Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump deserve each other … and the public deserves better.

Strengthen, do not denigrate, public education

An interesting blog entry showed up on my Facebook news feed that I want to share with you. It comes from a young man who is an avid supporter of public education. His entry is written as an open letter to Donald J. Trump.

It starts this way: In your State of the Union speech last week you said, “for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”

He goes on with this: I suppose that sentiment isn’t surprising for a man who appointed the least qualified Secretary of Education in history.  Neither you or Ms. DeVos have ever spent any meaningful time in America’s outstanding PUBLIC schools.  You call them “government schools,” because that somehow ties our education system to the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. that you preside over.

Read the rest of the blog post here.

I want to endorse the principle that Patrick J. Kearney posits in his blog, which is to endorse public education and to declare that I share his view that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is as unqualified in her job as the man who nominated her is in the job he occupies.

DeVos became education secretary in 2017 after the Senate voted in a 50-50 tie to confirm her; it fell, then, to Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her, the first time that has occurred in a Cabinet confirmation vote.

I heard the president use the term “government schools” and I found it off-putting. He tossed that term out there to somehow separate the “government” from the “public” that pays for it. I am one American who sees the government and the public as being the same thing. Thus, when we speak of public education, we speak of an educational system that serves the public.

Our public schools are not to be feared. They shouldn’t be considered candidates for a political whipping. Are there problems with public education? Of course there are. The cure for those problems is not to take money from the public treasury and send it to private institutions.

Furthermore, I agree with the blogger whose entry came to my attention, who believes that Donald Trump would do well to visit a public school classroom and see for himself the great job that our public educators are doing for our children.

‘Pro-choice’ does not equal ‘pro-slavery,’ Mme. Education Secretary

Get an ever-lovin’ grip, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos!

The education boss who was confirmed by a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate in 2017, has equated being “pro-choice” on abortion to being in favor of owning slaves.

To which I say … What the f***?

She spoke at a Washington, D.C. event for Colorado Christian University and made the absurd comparison, that a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy is akin to decide to put human beings in bondage.

This is one of the more apples-and-oranges comparisons I’ve seen in a good while.

You see, slave owners’ health was not an issue when they decided to purchase human beings and enslave them. A woman who decides she can no longer carry an unborn baby to full term quite often faces potentially mortal health issues. Yes, I get that some women make that decision for many more cavalier reasons than that. However, to equate these two matters — slave ownership and abortion — is irresponsible in the extreme.

The Hill reported: “(Lincoln) too contended with the pro-choice arguments of his day. They suggested that a state’s choice to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it,” DeVos said, the outlet reported. “Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choices (there) is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil.”

I’m trying to wrap my head around her alleged logic. I can’t quite get there.

I’ll just have to conclude that she is equating one issue with another utterly unrelated one. I think Secretary DeVos is reaching way beyond her grasp.

Public education needs an advocate at Department of Education

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg got a big round of applause and cheers tonight when he said this during the Democratic joint appearance with nine other presidential candidates.

He said if elected he would “appoint a secretary of education who actually believes in public education.”

The man Buttigieg wants to replace, Donald Trump, decided to select someone with no interest in public education, no direct experience with public education and no affinity for the needs of those involved with public education.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos needed Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote to get confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

I happen to agree with Buttigieg, that the next president must find someone who believes in public education to run the Department of Education.

I haven’t seen or heard a thing from DeVos that suggests she has any authentic commitment to the nation’s public schools, its public school students or its public school teachers. So far she appears to be some sort of place holder at the Education Department.

Her answers to congressional questioners sound vacuous and lacking any detailed understanding of the struggles that educators wage each year just to get ready to teach our nation’s children. Although I am aware that local communities bear the financial brunt of funding our school systems, how can the education secretary stand aside while teachers have to spend so much of their own money just to purchase supplies for their students to use in their classrooms?

The strength of our public education system must assume a greater role among the discussion points of the Democratic field of presidential contenders … and with the president of the United States.

Imagine your teacher with a gun

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said a lot with which I disagree during that ghastly “60 Minutes” interview Sunday night.

However, she did offer a bit of wisdom that connected with me.

“60 Minutes” correspondent Leslie Stahl asked her about “arming teachers” to prevent school violence. DeVos said it’s an option that should be “looked at.” DeVos then said she couldn’t imagine her first-grade teacher being armed. It might be OK to put guns in the hands of other educators, but she has trouble wrapping her head around her own teacher packing heat.

Holy cow! I thought immediately of my own first-grade teacher at Harvey W. Scott Elementary School in Portland, Ore.

Her name was Bonnie Orth. As I picture her today in my mind’s eye, I recall thinking then, in 1955, that she reminded me of my paternal grandmother, Katina Kanelis. Grandma was 59 years of age during my first-grade year of school. I also get that as a 6-year-old, everyone older than, say, 18 seemed to be ancient, which means that Mrs. Orth likely wasn’t nearly as old as she seemed at the time.

I attended that elementary school until midway through the seventh grade, when my parents moved us to the suburbs in 1962. I’m trying to imagine any of my teachers — Mrs. Orth, Mrs. Grubb, Miss Howard, Miss Elfring, Miss Heisler, Mr. Hendrickson or Mr. McGraw — pulling a pistol out of his or her desk in the event of a shootout at school; now that I think a bit about it, maybe Mr. McGraw — bless him — could do it … maybe.

This debate, though, isn’t about whether our own teachers could draw down on a shooter. It’s about the wisdom of adding more guns to our educational environment with the aim of making it a safer place to send our children.

That is what frightens me.

DeVos offers proof of why she is unfit for her job

It’s no wonder at all that Betsy DeVos needed a historic vice-presidential vote in the U.S. Senate to get her confirmed as the secretary of education.

You want evidence of it? Check out the “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night.

DeVos’s confirmation in 2017 ended with a 50-50 tie in the Senate; Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her nomination by Donald John Trump.

Oh, brother, she stumbled and bumbled her way through the interview with CBS News correspondent Leslie Stahl.

She actually acknowledged that she hasn’t visited “underperforming schools” to see for herself why they are in such bad shape. “Maybe I should,” DeVos told Stahl.

Uhh, yeah, do ya think?

I should note that DeVos is a champion for school choice. She also has no personal exposure to public education. She was educated in private schools; her children attend private schools; she can afford — as a billionaire — to send her children and grandchildren to any school they want.

This is the person the president chose to administer our public education system? Give me a break.

As the Washington Post reported: The secretary also said she is “not so sure exactly” how she became, as Stahl described her, “the most hated” member of President Trump’s Cabinet but believes that she is “misunderstood.”

I am not among those who hates DeVos. I am deeply concerned that this individual who has zero knowledge or experience relating to public education has been put in charge of the agency that is supposed to advocate on behalf of public schools, students and teachers.

DeVos has called “traditional public education” a “dead end.” How does that engender confidence in the secretary of public education? It doesn’t. Not in the least.

I encourage you to take a look at the exchange between Stahl and DeVos contained in the link that follows. Check it out here.

Yep, this is one of the “best people” Donald Trump pledged to populate his presidential administration.

Sheesh!

Educator has it right: Come visit us, Mme. Education Secretary

I want to give a full-throated cheer to a former colleague of mine who has gone on to do some great work in public education classrooms.

Shanna Peeples, who was named 2015 National Teacher of the Year, these days works in the administration of the Amarillo Independent School District. Until this school year, she taught English at Palo Duro High School. She was named National Teacher of the Year and was feted in a White House ceremony hosted by President Barack Obama. We worked for a time together many years ago for the same newspaper, the Amarillo Globe-News.

What has Peeples done to earn praise from yours truly? She has invited the current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to visit Amarillo. Come see what’s going on here, Shanna has told DeVos.

Lord knows the education secretary could use some on-site experience visiting public schools, talking to educators who work for public school districts and to public school students.

Peeples made her invitation known on social media. She has said she’ll bring the “coffee and donuts” to a meeting with Secretary DeVos.

I want to join the one-time National Teacher of the Year in inviting DeVos to Amarillo.

Look at it this way, Mme. Secretary: Amarillo sits in the middle of the Texas Panhandle, which voted overwhelmingly for the guy who nominated you, Donald J. Trump. This is ostensibly friendly territory. Amarillo ain’t Berkeley, if you get my drift.

DeVos, though, has zero experience with public education. Not as a student, or the mother of students. She ought to come here and take a look at the work being done by those who work for the very public to which the secretary also answers.

Nice going, Shanna. I hope the secretary accepts your invitation.

DeVos gets a job for which she is unqualified

Betsy DeVos is going to assume her new job in the federal government with one of two outlooks.

The first one suggests that with a 50-50 vote in the U.S. Senate to confirm her — and with the vice president of the United States casting the tie-breaking vote — DeVos is assuming the education secretary job with virtually no mandate to do anything.

Half the Senate opposes her. The president who nominated her got nearly 3 million fewer votes than his 2016 election opponent — while winning enough electoral votes to become president. The vice president cast the first in history tie-breaking vote to confirm a Cabinet nominee.

Mandate, shmandate!

Or, she’ll thumb her nose at those of us who opposed her confirmation and say, “Hey, winning by an inch is as good as winning by a country mile.  So … get over it!”

I suspect she’ll adopt the latter point of view.

Senate Democrats gave it their best shot, trying to talk for 24 hours straight on the Senate floor seeking to persuade one more Republican to follow the lead of GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who voted against DeVos’s nomination.

Betsy DeVos has zero qualifications to lead the nation’s public education system.

She gave a lot of money to Republican politicians, which I guess is qualification enough.

Sad, man. Sad.

Betsy DeVos for ed secretary? No way!

I know it’s still a long shot, but I am going to implore the U.S. Senate to “just say ‘no'” to “Billionaire Betsy” DeVos as the next secretary of education.

Just as I believe Donald J. Trump is still unfit for the presidency, he has chosen an equally unfit individual to lead the nation’s public education program.

I emphasize the word “public” for what I believe is a valid reason.

DeVos has zero direct exposure to public education.

She was educated in private schools. Her children have attended private schools. DeVos has talked openly about creating a voucher program for parents, allowing public tax money to subsidize the private education of their children.

Her Senate committee confirmation hearing revealed DeVos’s utter ignorance of public education policy. She believes we should arm teachers with firearms to supposedly deter gun violence in schools.

The president can do far better than to nominate someone other than DeVos, whose only “qualification” has been the large amounts of money she has raised for Republican politicians — including the president himself.

Two Senate Republicans — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — have said they won’t vote for DeVos. That puts the count at 50-50, assuming all Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, vote against DeVos.

Will there be another Republican senator with a conscience who’ll realize that the president has made a mistake in nominating this know-nothing to run the Education Department.

I am hoping one can emerge.

Then the president can look for someone who knows something about the agency he or she would lead.