The disastrous hearings of Betsy DeVos

| January 19, 2017 | Reply

How did Devos do in her Senate Confirmation hearing? Not well.  DeVos was as much hiding Republican supported policies as the Democrats were looking for gotcha moments.  Senator Lamar Alexander appeared interested in protecting the damsel in distress and her policies than in truly vetting her ideas and policies.  He limited questioning to one round of five minute questions from members of the Committee.   This frustrated Senators on the committee and many watching around the country.

Her exchange with Senator Kaine makes it painfully obvious she was not there to give details but to smile a lot and just get thru it.

Kaine: “If confirmed will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter or private?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Equal accountability?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Is that a yes or a no?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Do you not want to answer my question?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree?”
DeVos: “Well they don’t, they are not today.”
Kaine: “Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me?
DeVos: “Well no . . . ”
Kaine, interrupting her, said: “You don’t agree with me.” And he moved on to another topic.

There were other memorable moments.  Twitter is having a field day with her comments about guns and grizzlies.  Her exchange with Al Franken over the difference between “proficiency” and “growth” could have been informative but he interrupted her.  She appeared a bit flustered and confused about the definition of the two terms.

DeVos attempted to answer and to correlate proficiency with competency and mastery.  Most likely because this is how she understands the terms in a competency-based school choice model.   Franken insisted it was growth.  The different definitions of terms is not unusual and exactly why education reform is so frustrating.  The same term can have multiple meanings but the words are thrown around, as if everyone understands them in the same way.  They don’t.  Clarity on terms is essential perhaps that what DeVos was trying to do. However, she plays the same game.  Using high minded rhetoric like “school choice,” “proficiency,” “mastery,” or “high standards” she disguises many of the her policies and intentions.   Understanding her definition is essential to understanding where she seeks to take education.  We need a second round of hearings that allow solid questions to be asked and her to give substantive answers beyond, “I support accountability.”

The hearing was three and a half hours long and was quite simply, political theater and grandstanding by all involved.  The one bright spot is that parents and citizens are now becoming more informed about the term “school choice” and what it really means for our children.  When money and data follow the child, so does control.   DeVos is pro-common core and allowing public/partnerships to control our children’s education from cradle-to-career.  Parents only choice is WHERE their child will learn not WHAT they will learn.

In her opening remarks DeVos made it clear what she believes

“Why, in 2017, are we still questioning parents’ ability to exercise educational choice for their children?  I am a firm believer in parents choosing the the learning environment that’s best for their individual children.”

Choosing the learning environment is NOT true choice.  For example, parents in a DeVos charter school in Grand Rapids wanted Common Core OUT of their school  The administration said it wasn’t going to happen because  “what the state and Mr. DeVos want they are going to get.

In 2017, why are we still implementing Common Core and increasing state control over children’s lives from cradle to career?  That’s the question parents and teachers are asking.   True freedom allows parents to choose WHAT their children are taught and who is allowed to collect and see their data.

This is the time to speak up and speak out.   Call Senator Alexander and demand a second round of questions.  Parents and teachers deserve better.  Our concerns were ignored and it’s time our voices were heard in this discussion.

Senator Lamar Alexander – Phone: (202) 224-4944 – Twitter  @SenAlexander





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About the Author ()

Karen Braun is a writer and conference speaker on issues related education and family life. Her work has appeared in the American Thinker, Crosswalk, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, WatchDog Wire, and various other websites and magazines. She has also appeared on TV and radio venues. Along with blogging, Karen also enjoys homeschooling, running marathons, and spending time with her husband, their six children, and two grand children. For more information please contact Karen at spunkyhomeschool at gmail dot com