Tag Archives: news

Steven Singer: DeVos Pretends to be a Champion of Children with Disabilities, and EdWeek Enables the Hoax

(In a sane world, this would be a scandal.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Steven Singer is steamed. He read a “Commentary” by Betsy DeVos in Education Week in which she pretends to be a champion of children with disabilities. You don’t have to have a long memory to remember that she testified at her Senate hearing last year that she was unsure what IDEA is or whether the voucher schools she promotes would be bound by federal law.

Steven remembers. He can’t understand why Education Week allowed her to burnish her image, while ignoring the 72 federal regulations she eliminated that protected students with disabilities.

He begins:

“Meet Betsy DeVos, Champion of Students With Special Needs.

“At least that’s who she’s pretending to be this week.

“The wealthy Republican mega-donor who bought her position as Secretary of Education published an article in the current issue of Education Week called “Commentary: Tolerating Low Expectations for Students With Disabilities Must End.”

“It was almost…

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Wikipedia and Media Literacy

(As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I have long considered the American Federation of Teachers quarterly magazine, American Educator to be a credible and edifying periodical that includes useful research for teachers. Recently, it ran this excellent article on the problem of fake news in the United States. My school’s mindless ban on Wikipedia, I think, represents little more than an unwillingness to recognize the opportunities Wikipedia offers for students to learn how to evaluate evidence judiciously. In this short quote, the authors of the aforementioned article make the case for using Wikipedia for just that purpose.)

“You heard right: Wikipedia. Fact checkers’ first stop was often a site many educators tell students to avoid. What we should be doing instead is teaching students what fact checkers know about Wikipedia and helping them take advantage of the resources of the fifth-most trafficked site on the web.

Students should learn about Wikipedia’s standards of verifiability and how to harvest entries for links to reliable sources. They should investigate Wikipedia’s ‘Talk’ pages (the tab hiding in plain sight next to the ‘Article’ tab), which, on contentious issues like gun control, the status of Kashmir, waterboarding, or climate change are gold mines where students can see knowledge-making in action. And they should practice using Wikipedia as a resource for lateral reading. Fact checkers, short on time, often skipped the main article and headed straight to the references, clicking on a link to a more established venue. Why spend 15 minutes having students, armed with a checklist, evaluate a website on a tree octopus (www.zapatopi.net/treeoctopus) when a few seconds on Wikipedia shows it to be ‘an internet hoax created in 1998.’”

McGrew, Sarah, et al. “The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News: Civic Reasoning in a Social Media Environment.” American Educator Fall 2017 (4-10). Print.

 

Mercedes Schneider Channels Betsy DeVos’s Deepest Thoughts

(Mercedes Schneider is one of the most perceptive analysts of educational policy out there, and here she really shows off her many talents while showing us what Betsy DeVos–and arguably the entire administration of Donald Trump–really intends for public schooing in the United States–and why.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

This post is a real tour de force. That means that Mercedes Schneider has managed to say something truly original, which I hope you will read in full.

Betsy DeVos is constantly saying how much she wants the best for every child, how urgent it is to let parents have charter schools, voucher schools, for-profit schools, cybercharters, almost anything but public schools. Despite her protestations, she is contemptuous of public schools and has spent many millions through her American Federation for Children to advance privatization.

So zmercedes uses her post to tell you what Betsy would say if she spoke her mind, without covering up any of her thoughts.

She begins like this.

“First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for coming because I appreciate yet another opportunity to campaign in a manner that ultimately promotes my favorite minority, the one to which I belong: America’s elite…

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Betsy DeVos and the Acton Institute Celebrate School Privatization and Free-Market Capitalism

(Betsy DeVos, like many ultra-wealthy people in the United States today, has the money to buy her own ideological echo chamber)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Thanks to reader and teacher-blogger David Taylor for sharing this post from the far-far-far right Acton Institute.

The Acton Institute will hold its annual dinner on October 18 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The keynote speaker is Betsy DeVos. There will be no protestors. She will be speaking to her tiny little claque of extremist libertarians, who are exulting these days about their great strides in rolling back the New Deal, shredding any safety net for the poor, getting rid of unions, eliminating pensions, and privatizing government programs and services. Betsy is their hero, because she has not only funded the free-market cause (and the Acton Institute) but has jumped into the arena to put her reactionary agenda into the mainstream.

The post includes the names and connections among some of Betsy’s friends.

Like J.C. Huizenga. Time for a personal anecdote. Many years ago, I was invited to lecture at Calvin…

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Betsy at Harvard: She is Unaccustomed to This Kind of Rude Reception

(I always like to end the work week with some good news….)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Having lived her life in a billionaire bubble, Betsy DeVos expects deference. She did not get it at the Kennedy zdchool at Harvard last night.

Protestors unfurled banners and raised their fists as Betsy tried to speak about the glories of school choice.

One said “Our Students Are Not for Sale. Another said, “White Supremacy.” Another said “Dark Money.”

When she asked in her speech whether more money would solve the problems, a line that must have been greeted with applause when she spoke at ALEC, a student shouted out “YES.” This was not the answer she expected.

Betsy thought she was in a safe space, given that the event was sponsored by pro-choice scholars and the Koch brothers and the Gates Foundation, but she forgot that the audience was students.

Students were warned that they would be evicted if they were disruptive but that didn’t stop the protestors.

In…

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Nancy Bailey: DeVos’ “Let’s Get Rid of Public Schools” Tour

(Diane Ravitch continues to cover this dim ideologue, for which I thank her.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Nancy Bailey valiantly followed Betsy DeVos’s national tour, from a distance.

Her message everywhere was the same: Public schools suck! Private schools are awesome!

In public schools, children sit in desks arranged in rows. In private schools, well, maybe the same but it doesn’t matter.

In public schools, children hate going to school. In private schools, they are enthusiastic and happy.

This woman is an ideologue. She knows nothing and learns nothing. Whatever she proposes is meant to damage public schools and communities.

Education is a learning profession, and she is not open to learning anything!

We will wait her out, fight her at every turn, and return to the task of improving and strengthening public schools for all children, a concept unknown to her.

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Betsy DeVos and Her Family Are Funding the Republican Candidate for Governor in Virginia

(Remember Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” sketches on Saturday Night Live all those years ago? That’s who Betsy DeVos is, only not funny and quite dangerous.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Politico reports that the DeVos family is funding the campaign of the Republican candidate for Governor in Virginia.

According to Politico:

TEACHERS UNIONS TARGET GILLESPIE IN VA GOVERNOR’S RACE: Teachers unions are stepping up their opposition to Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie – and they’re using an emerging tactic on the left: linking him to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. National and local union leaders said on Tuesday that they would be mobilizing against Gillespie by highlighting his ties to DeVos, as they back his Democratic opponent Ralph Northam. Gillespie has accepted more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the DeVos family. “Ed Gillespie can dress it up in any which way he wishes to, but the bottom line is he is a clone of Betsy DeVos. The agenda that Gillespie is pushing for is an agenda that hurts kids,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

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