Saturday, February 4, 2017

From The 'This Is Bad' File: Senator Lankford And Senator Inhofe Both Support Betsy DeVos

February 3rd, Oklahoman reporter Ben Felder tells Oklahomans that both Senator Lankford and Senator Inhofe will support Betsy DeVos. This is bad - very bad indeed.

It's no secret I've been critical of Trump's nominee for the Department of Education. Our highest-read blog this year was "Questions: Drain the swamp? Betsy DeVos? Where do parents come in?", where I covered the top five reasons grassroots education activists object to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. 

A recent article in Truth in American Education by prominent Common Core activists Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle, "Is President Trump Being Played By Betsy DeVos and Jeb Bush" delineates yet another list of reasons as to why her confirmation will NOT create the change necessary to overhaul the flailing American Public Education System and help American students regain educational prominence.

I'm not surprised Senators Lankford and/or Inhofe would support DeVos. 

I'm fairly certain their nods are largely out of respect; they feel it important to support the nominations of their embattled Republican president. 

I also think they're running toward her full steam ahead because of the whining, crying and hand-wringing from the liberal/progressive, "public education is necessary for Democracy and the public good", crowd. The more they whine and cry about how DeVos will dismantle the USDOE and public education, resulting in the destruction of the universe as we know it, the more these Republicans want to confirm her - possibly for no other reason than to bolster their 'conservative' street cred by gargling out some hackneyed line like, "The Dems hate her which proves she's great!". 

But see, lemmings tend to follow right behind their leader, who, inevitably, goes flying off a cliff at a dead run for no other reason than the ones ahead of it are doing it too.

The idea of "school choice" - a nebulous phrase no one in any form of Republican leadership seems able to define in any other than additional generalizations such as, "it allows parents to direct the education of their children", which then leads to terms indicating government growth like, "education savings accounts" and "vouchers" and "accountability" - is bandied about by Republicans like steak entrees at a lobbyist dinner. 

Here's the problem, and what no one seemingly wants to believe or address: THE GOVERNMENT CAN'T GET KIDS INTO BETTER SCHOOLS. Only parents can do this by advocating for their kid's education and there are way too few parents out there interested enough in this idea to actually do it, which is why - yet again - government is attempting to step in.

Not only is it a parent's job to advocate for their own child's education, there are too many moving parts in the system of public education to even dream of attempting to 'fix' it through 'choice'. 

Education - just like an engine - is a finely-tuned amalgamation of parts - including educational philosophies and policies, state and federal mandates, teacher training and everything from the family life of a student to what they ate for breakfast before a test. The idea that something called 'school choice' will somehow provide an education panacea for kids in public schools today can't be anything other than a slick marketing ploy from a snake oil salesman.

What's more than likely happening here, is that pushing something called 'school choice' helps to create initiatives which gives organizations like the American Federation for Children (AFC) - for which Mrs. DeVos has served as Chairman from 2009 - something for which to raise funds for the purposes of installing candidates in various public positions through state affiliates across the nation.

As I wrote in a previous blog about what I call "Educational Statism":
I came across an old email dated 8/8/16 - long before DeVos was even on the radar screen - from my friend Betty Peters, an Alabama State Board of Education member. In it, were the following words:
Jenni, have you included Betsy Devos of Michigan in your research? "Devos' group AL Federation for Children was a major player in funding only pro-Common Core candidates for the AL state school board races in the 2014 and 2016 GOP primaries".
Clearly, not all candidates are endorsed by grassroots activist members of the Republican party. In fact, Betty also told me that Diane Ravitch wrote a blog about the expenditures entitled, "Alabama: Will Michigan Billionaires Buy a Seat on the State Board of Education".
Betty later editorialized on the subject;
"It is funny that Ravitch asked why DeVos was trying to buy the Alabama state school board. Most people would think that peculiar and likely feel creepy about it. Why would someone in Michigan pick Alabama pro-CC folks to support and even set up a PAC for funding them?"
I then pointed out that "the “ed choice 101” tab on the AFC website includes model legislation to create laws associated with ‘school choice’ programs such as education savings accounts and scholarship programs."
More laws, bigger government, less freedom for everyone – the hallmark of ‘establishment Republicans’ everywhere – that’s just the way it works.
I truly hope our Republican legislators will look with a MUCH MORE critical eye on the whole notion of 'school choice' in the future, but I'm doubting that will happen. 

In the end, it's much easier and pride-provoking to take on the mantle of 'problem solver for the people' and legislate, than it is to advocate. Why couldn't legislators - instead - advocate for parents to get involved and run for school boards and start their own educational co-ops where they hire their own teachers and decide their own curricula - things that could be done WITHOUT legislative/government assistance?

As I close, I can't help but shake my head in wonder at how easily so many of us are duped by so-called 'great ideas' while neglecting the ones right under our nose. Why will a government-backed solution - one required to be in law like Common Core - always 'feel' better than the one we can do on our own without any 'help' from outside? 

I guess it boils down to lack of education and drive - and so the government enslavement circle continues without a break for escape....(insert crying emoji here).