[This is a quick digression from the business of Women’s History Month on Mark’s Text Terminal to heap richly deserved scorn on Betsy DeVos, the callow heiress who still mistakenly believes she has the qualifications to serve as the United States Secretary of Education.]
Lesley Stahl: Why have you become, people say, the most hated Cabinet secretary?
Betsy DeVos: I’m not sure exactly how that happened…
I’m more misunderstood than anything.
The above exchange from last night’s 60 Minutes interview highlights an important point about our Education Secretary.
She is deeply unpopular, but not because she’s misunderstood. If anything, she’s understood too well.
We know what she stands for and we don’t like it.
If she was really so misunderstood, why didn’t her answers in the interview veer away from the same usual canned responses she’s given time-and-time-again to the same type of questions?
What’s wrong with schools? NOT ENOUGH CHOICE.
How do we prevent school shootings? LET SCHOOLS ARM TEACHERS.
You didn’t really even need DeVos to show up to the interview to be able to guess with a high degree of accuracy what her answers would be.
In fact, many of…
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I’m a teacher in a public high school. I will not carry a gun in my classroom.
It’s Friday morning, and I want to go into the weekend touting a worthy website that is the brainchild of a New York City teacher named Brett Gardiner Murphy. She has recently published a book called Inside Our Schools and her work is worth a look.
Elsewhere on this blog I have extolled the virtues of The American Educator, a periodical published by the The American Federation of Teachers. This is the union that represents almost 1.6 million teachers, including those of us here in New York City, under the aegis of the United Federation of Teachers. Unlike the Teamsters Newsletter I received when I was a truck driver and warehouseman (worthy enough, but mostly featuring stories like “Elmer Fudd Celebrates One Million Miles of Safe Driving at Yellow Freight Lines”), The American Educator actually exists to present professional educational research that is genuinely useful to teachers.
Ms. Murphy published an article titled “The Profession Speaks: Educator Perspectives on School Reform” in the Winter 2017-2018 issue of The American Educator. She does a very nice job of explaining the absolute necessity of teachers’ involvement in the discourse surrounding school “reform.” I commend and thank her for her efforts, because she has insight into policy issues, an area of discussion that mostly annoys me because of the overall and overweening ignorance (cf. the basic idiocy of Betsy DeVos) of school reformers; I simply haven’t the patience to try to hold discussions with the aggressively ignorant. Ms. Murphy makes the basic point that when it comes to discussions of school reform, educators have no voice.
She aims to change that, as she spells out in her article, with the website Inside Our Schools. Rather than try to characterize the site, I’ll quote Brett Gardiner Murphy from her article in The American Educator:
“Say what you will about how the Internet has shortened students’ attention spans, it has democratized whose point of view can be heard, including our own. I started a website connected to the book, InsideOurSchools.com, where anyone involved in public schools–teachers, parents, and students–can upload their stories through videos, audio recordings, or written reflections. It’s just one of the many ways we can use our voices in the years ahead.”
Enough said. I urge you to take a look at Ms. Gardiner’s site, and consider buying her book to support her efforts. I bid her Godspeed and best wishes for the future. New York City’s schools are lucky to have her.
(Here’s yet another reason why Betsy DeVos will be the worst thing that ever happened to education in this country.)
Diane Ravitch's blog
Investigative writer David Dayen, writing in “The New Republic” describes the variety of ways that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is protecting predatory for-profit “colleges” while allowing them to stiff the students they cheated.
“Imagine a car dealer sold you a lemon. You sue to get your money back. But the judge discovers that you managed to get yourself around most of the time, despite the bum vehicle. You only missed 10 percent of your appointments, so the judge orders that you are entitled to 10 percent of the price of the car.
“That’s essentially what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last week for students defrauded by for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges. Victims of the corrupt diploma mill will not have their student loans discharged; instead, they will get a portion of relief based on their current income. The more professional ingenuity they showed despite being defrauded by Corinthian, the less…
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(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.
“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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(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 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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