Betsy DeVos Moves Forward to Kill Public Education

As the school year winds down, summer vacation is so close that many children can almost taste it. Meanwhile, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has her own agenda simmering on the burner — one that could end public education for good.

With all of the scandal rocking the White House as of late, the Department of Education has remained surprisingly quiet. But that silence ended this week as President Trump unleashed his latest budget proposal, which included a series of cuts to education.

School lunch subsidies, summer school and after-school enrichment programs and teacher development funds are all in danger. And many of the most popular student loan programs could be tapered or killed off all together.

“[T]he biggest item here is an end to subsidized student loans,” NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz told PBS News. “Right now, there’s two student loan programs for subsidized loans. If you qualify, for undergraduates, the government picks up your interest while you’re in school. And that would be going away under this plan. The second really significant cut is in the loan repayment program called public service loan forgiveness. And that is for teachers, doctors, firefighters, police officers, people engaged in nonprofits and government work. They were supposed to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of service. And this program’s only 10 years old. So if you’re following along, the repayment was supposed to start this October.”

While higher education will see many cuts, and public education programs will receive the rest, DeVos’ favorite cause — private school vouchers — will actually experience an increase.

Despite the fact that so-called “school choice” programs haven’t yet proven to have better outcomes than current public schools, the Department of Education hopes to fix that issue by throwing more money at these efforts.

“In order to fund her private school voucher scheme, DeVos has proposed distorting the bipartisan Education Innovation and Research Program – the successor to the Investing in Innovation program – to create her own slush fund for private schools,” explains US News and World Reports. “The Education Innovation and Research Program was intended to provide more resources to ideas with a proven evidence base to build on existing research and create more evidence of effective programs. Instead of supporting the best ideas from states and districts to improve schools, DeVos would specifically funnel that money to private schools, including private religious schools. DeVos may claim she wants to build evidence, but when asked about recent studies showing that the Washington, D.C. voucher program actually had negative impacts on student achievement, she simply said, ‘We’re not taking questions.’”

So how much money could they use for this study? About $250 million, if the Trump budget gets approved.

There’s a massive amount of irony in hearing the Secretary of Education refer to those who oppose gutting public schools in order to fund private schools, religious schools and, yes, even home schools as “flat-earthers,” like DeVos did earlier this week.

The time has expired for ‘reform.’ We need a transformation ― a transformation that will open up America’s closed and antiquated education system,” she told the American Federation for Children’s annual National Policy Summit in Indianapolis, according to Huffington Post. “Defenders of our current system have been regularly resistant to any meaningful change. In resisting, these ‘flat-earthers’ have chilled creativity and stopped American kids from competing at the highest levels.”

Yet as DeVos calls voucher opponents flat-earthers, she and her supporters are pouring millions into studies they hope to manipulate for more favorable results — much like climate change deniers fund their own alternative studies or abortion opponents find “pro-life” doctors to support scientifically disproven dangers of terminating a pregnancy.

Make no doubt about it, the war on public education has only just begun.

The cuts that President Trump proposes will not all survive the budget negotiations, and many will hopefully be pulled due to overwhelmingly bipartisan support for the programs. But the funding for new voucher program research will likely remain.

As a result, when the next public education cuts are proposed, there very well may be new “proof” of vouchers’ alleged success.

Photo Credit: US Department of Education

82 comments

Marie W
Marie W8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Emma S.
Emma S.8 months ago

Best work done guys, creative contents are here. Personal Statement

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Philippa Powers
Philippa Powersabout a year ago

Thanks.

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Joan E
Joan Eabout a year ago

I would say she moves backward, not forward.

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Tom M
Tom Mabout a year ago

Read the Rolling Stone article on Devos -- it's all you need to know. She's part of a cabal that has long planned to shape this country into her mold of Religious Right. She has an agenda, years in the making. Now she's ready to release the goal of her cult on the nation.

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Dan B
Dan Blossfeldabout a year ago

Rachel,
Yes, scotus has muddied the waters on this issue. The primary purpose of all schools (including religious) is student education. Typically, religious schools include insert one religious course into their curriculum, although the religious atmosphere is certainly present also. Some public schools, colleges, and all universities offer these as electives. So, the dividing line is rather nebulous. The difference between the two rulings is such: a tax cannot be used to support religion (Everson), whereas a benefit (Zelman) can. The voucher is only the educational cost, not the total tax paid by parent(s) of a school student. Therefore, he court ruled that the educational costs could be transferred, without violating their previous argument. Clear as mud?

One must remember that the separation of church and state is really one directional; the state cannot establish a church. It was never intended to prevent religious influences on the government. I know this is a sticking point for the nonreligious, and has been tried to be enforce both ways. This is why it was included in the first amendment, alongside freedom of speech. While we may find certain speech, religions, or activies objectionable, the federal government is forbidden from restricting them. (For the true constitutionalists, it only applies to the federal government, although scotus (and lower courts) have since applied it to state and local municipalitie

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Rachel -
Past Member about a year ago

Dan B. And btw, you had a valid point regarding my personal bias. But when there's such a constitutional quandary, something has to be the tipping point.. and it's not like I'm a Supreme Court justice, lol.

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Rachel -
Past Member about a year ago

Everson v Board of Ed (1947) about a NJ program that reimbursed transportation costs to private religious school students, used to be the blueprint. "The establishment of religion clause of he First Amendment means... no tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion." Effect: Vouchers for religious schools? No way.

Zelman v Simmons-Harris (2002) about a Ohio voucher program, changed that. It said essentially the program was acceptable under the establishment clause because it didn't promote religious over secular schools (albeit 96% of the vouchers were used for religious schools). In a 5-4 opinion, Souter dissented: "It is virtually superfluous to point out that every objective underlying the prohibition of religious establishment is betrayed by this scheme." Effect: Vouchers for religious schools? Okay.

As we know, when SCOTUS declares something constitutional, then it is!! ...Unless they change their minds later.

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Rachel -
Past Member about a year ago

Dan B. There are compelling arguments on both sides of voucher programs - pretty much equally compelling imo. Therefore, non-religious people like me typically side with the "separation of church and state" opinion in Everson v Board of Ed, saying voucher programs are unconstitutional if you don't exclude religious schools. On the other hand, religious people side with Zelman v Simmons-Harris, saying excluding religious schools would be discriminatory. So it's a conundrum to me between violating separation of church and state and being unfairly discriminatory that leads me to say nix the constitutional dilemma by just not having voucher programs and use the money for improving public schools.

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Margie F
Margie FOURIEabout a year ago

Education should be encouraged.

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