Senator Toomey is entitled to his opinions. He likes Betsy DeVos. Hey, if she gave me $61,000 I’d probably warm up to her too, right? And if she gave my collection of friends and work colleagues over $200, 000, 000 I’d likely still be defending her. He’s entitled to like her. What he’s not entitled to is to waste our money, destroy our schools…based on their alternative facts.
I recently received a letter from Senator Toomey. Yes, despite the date at the top, it just arrived this week. Honestly, I don’t need a response every time I contact him and most of the time I skim it then toss it. This one gave me reason to pause.
Frankly, I’m tired of the gaslighting. Because much of what is in this letter is false. I’m tired of being lied to by elected officials and being played for a fool.
Let’s look over it, one paragraph at a time, shall we?
See, you cannot do this. I’m calling bullshit. “Hundreds of thousands?” Where? Show me the data. There is no data that says that “hundreds of thousands” of children have been helped (educationally) because of Ms. DeVos.
To the contrary:
Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test, nicknamed the “Nation’s Report Card.” Notably, the state’s charter schools scored worse on that test than their traditional public-school counterparts, according to an analysis of federal data. That’s from Politico.
School proponents like Senator Toomey and Betsy DeVos like to point to one successful charter school in an inner city, they’ve even done it here in Philadelphia. But one successful school does not a system make. And it certainly doesn’t add up to “hundreds of thousands.” Stop lying to us. Even the decent performing ones have dirty secrets.
Furthermore, literally billions of dollars have been drained from the public schools in the communities where she’s set up shop. The system does not support two parallel structures–one public school system and one for “choice.” They are not adding any more money into the pot, just trying to develop two entirely different school systems with the money that is there. What would happen if I told you to take your household monthly expenses, but now, with that same amount of money…you have to maintain 2 households? Exactly. And that is what will happen here.
Now this is just plain insulting. Especially give that this letter is dated February 7 and mid-January she was testifying that she didn’t even know what IDEA was. “Dedicated to enforcing the rights of all students?” Give me a break. She would not verbally commit to even enforcing Title 9 policies that help protect women from rape.
Furthermore, again and again you prove that you are not listening to your constituents. You have ideas in your head and you just use money to get yourself elected and implement them, public opinion be damned. Because here’s the thing–parents don’t want school choice. We want good public schools. By and large, our schools are good, so are the teachers, so stop this nonsense of trying to gaslight the public into thinking that all of our public schools are garbage. Because they’re not.
Parents are busy. We work, we have obligations. We don’t want to shop around for a better education, we don’t want the pursuit of a better education.
I have no reason to believe that you or Ms. DeVos will listen to research or evidence based practices. If you did, you wouldn’t be trying to sell this school choice idea…because there’s no evidence behind it!
The DeVos record in her home base of Michigan should be on great concern to those who see public education as a public good that should not be turned over to profiteers. Her efforts in Michigan and nationally aim to influence policies steering as much money as is possible away from fully public schools and into “competition” in the form of charters. The Michigan experiment has been especially woeful for public education as the state’s charter sector is stupendously unregulated and an eye-watering 80% of charter schools are run by for-profit management corporations that don’t even try to hide that they are self-dealing. The Detroit Free Press reported in August that the state is sending $1 billion in tax payers’ money to charter schools but cannot be bothered to hold them accountable for much of anything:
Wasteful spending and double-dipping. Board members, school founders and employees steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders. Schools allowed to operate for years despite poor academic records. No state standards for who operates charter schools or how to oversee them.
And a record number of charter schools run by for-profit companies that rake in taxpayer money and refuse to detail how they spend it, saying they’re private and not subject to disclosure laws. Michigan leads the nation in schools run by for-profits. (Huffington Post)
As Dr. Phil says, “The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior.”
Nice, non-committal phrasing there.
Sure, there are some schools and districts who are not doing great and failing kids. But what have you done, or what has any school choice proponent done, to try to fix it? Besides pointing at them and saying, “you suck!” what have you done to try to get to the root of the problem and fix it? How do you see competition and less funding as a fix?
Detroit Public Schools overall rank last out of large urban school districts nationwide for the performance of African-American students in eight-grade math. But the majority of charter districts statewide perform even worse than the city school district for African-American students in eighth-grade math, the report noted. (Politico)
Because there is zero data to show that this idea works on a large scale. There just isn’t. Perhaps you all have convinced yourselves that there is, but there isn’t.
Largely as a result of the DeVos’ lobbying, Michigan tolerates more low-performing charter schools than just about any other state. And it lacks any effective mechanism for shutting down, or even improving, failing charters. (Washington Post)
Funny what billions of dollars will make a person think, huh?
In addition to funneling public money (that should be for children) to private interests, the school choice movement also wants less oversight? Are you kidding me?
According to The New York Times, a 2010 law backed by a DeVos-funded group pushed to expand charters, but DeVos’ group also blocked provisions that would have prevented failing charters from expanding and replicating. Since that law passed, the number of charters in Michigan that are among the state’s lowest-performing schools has doubled. Another story in the Times illustrates the chaos this has unleashed upon students and families in Detroit in the name of “empowering” them with choice. Decades into the charter school experiment and more than a decade into the DeVos influenced school landscape, Detroit has 30,000 more school seats than it needs and schools go into heated competition to fill those seats in time to get state money determined by headcount. Charter school seats are concentrated near downtown while more impoverished neighborhoods with more school-aged children have fewer schools – requiring those seeking choice to travel significant distances in a city of 140 square miles. Many charter operators get around the requirements to have open lotteries by layering the application process with burdensome paperwork, unusual enrollment periods, or by advertising in sources they know the city’s most impoverished families do not read. The result is that a great many families seeking charter seats end up at poorly run schools in Michigan’s unregulated environment and end up switching schools multiple times in the elementary years — an environment that Tonya Allen, President of the Skillman Foundation, compared to “The Hunger Games” for schools. (Huffington Post)
So you think that the solution to failing schools, instead of fixing failing schools, is to burden parents with the task of shopping around for a school (and sell it to them as empowerment!), then switch schools–traumatic at any age, rearrange transportation, rearrange work commutes, rearrange babysitters and after school care for this new placement…..which is LESS accountable to the dollars they spend…and hope it all works out? Seriously, how can you even read this and not laugh out loud at the absurdity of it!?
Paragraphs 4 and 5:
Again, please stop trying to gaslight us and lie to us. You’re embarrassing yourself. There is no evidence that “badly needed competition” will improve schools. There just isn’t. Children would not have to attend sub-par schools if our politicians were truly interested in getting in there, fixing them and making them better. Taking more money from them and asking parents to rearrange their lives and lose touch with the community center that is the public school…that is not helpful and you don’t have the data that it is better.
For 20 years, the lobby her family bankrolls has propped up the billion-dollar charter school industry and insulated it from commonsense oversight, even as charter schools repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises to parents and children. (Washington Post)
The truth here–Betsy DeVos hates public schools. She wants her religious utopia and she has the money to try to make it happen. She sees public schools as threats to the religious community and has said as much. If the DeVos family didn’t have billions, they’d just be seen as odd, religious nuts. Money changes perceptions.
Their ultimate goal is to defund the left in the U.S. by stripping away power and resources from the labor movement, which they achieve in part by attacking core groups like the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers to try to reduce their membership and ultimately, their resources. (PennLive)
Look, you want to keep praising her, knock yourself out. I know she has to get her money’s worth out of you. But we’re on to you, both of you. There’s a reason why Betsy DeVos is the most hated and most opposed Cabinet member ever….because she’s a horrible choice for the job. She has said time and time again that she has no desire to improve public education. Unusual times, these are. A climate change denier leading the EPA and a public school hater for Sec’y of Education. For now, I guess we should be glad that at least most people can still read…so we don’t have to rely on the pile of manure that you keep giving us.
But here’s one thing–parents do want choices. And one of those choices is to not have our kids’ education money needlessly wasted and funneled into private interests. We want our politicians to listen to what we want–not keep trying to convince us to go along with what you want. And for the moment, when it comes to voting, we still have choices and plan on using them.