Betsy DeVos, someone who knows as much about education as a pancake, is the US Secretary for Education. So far, she’s claimed that all schools need guns because of potential grizzly attacks, had her social media peon misspell the name of a famous advocate of education – and then misspell the apology – and she can’t seem to find her pencils.
Things, as they say, are not going well.
New journalistic portal Axios managed to get some time with the longtime GOP donor and pencil botherer this week, and they asked her what she would have said differently during her final confirmation hearing. There are some wonderful bits of madness sprinkled throughout, along with some genuinely frightening parts.
“I expect there will be more public charter schools. I expect there will be more private schools. I expect there will be more virtual schools,” DeVos mused aloud, thinking about the future of American education. Then she added: “I expect there will be more schools of any kind that haven't even been invented yet.”
What in the name of W.E.B. Du Bois does this mean? Where else can you go other than “virtual” for the future? Underwater schools? Sky schools? Space schools? Hedgehog schools? (Actually, these all sound pretty awesome.)
This is an incredibly vague answer. DeVos’ general policy towards education is that there should be more “choice” at the state and district level for curriculums which, given her family’s strong pro-creationism stance, worries quite a lot of people. Other than that, the future of American schools under her leadership is anyone’s guess, really.
It’s worth pointing out that she is quite keen to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bipartisan law signed by President Obama that superseded the flawed 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.
The purpose of ESSA was to actually give a lot of control over educational policy back to local authorities while still making sure poorly performing students and schools are focused on for improvement. At the very least, it’s a good sign she wants to implement it, but it’s unclear exactly how she would go about that. “It’s too early to have numerical goals,” she added.
Her focus, though, seems to be weakening the federal government’s power of educational policy as much as possible – and this is what really concerns educators across the US.
For example, she says that the federal government doesn’t have a big a role to play in “protecting students and ensuring safe environments for them” as it did back when schools were segregated in terms of both race and gender. The thing is, American schools still suffer from this type of discrimination.
In DeVos’ own words, though, when it comes to reasons for the federal government to intervene today, she “can’t think of any.” Good to know.
Far from just sucking the life out of the ED, she claims she wouldn’t mind if it’s killed off permanently.
“It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job,” DeVos said, “but I'm not sure that – I'm not sure that there will be a champion movement in Congress to do that.”
Well, we’d suggest she should look at bill HR 899, penned by House Republicans, which aims to “terminate” the ED by December 31, 2018.
Sigh. There is an upside to of all this, though – space schools are coming! If you cannot wait until the year 2095 for these to appear, however, take comfort in the fact that the kids of today are more aware than most that the GOP, when it comes to education and science, has no idea what it is talking about.