Sorry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, but you set us up for that headline…kinda like you’ve set up the public school system in America to fail with your relentless advocacy for school vouchers and charter schools. Here’s DeVos, speaking Monday at the National Education Writers Association in Baltimore:
“I don’t enjoy the publicity that comes with my position. I don’t love being up on stage or on any kind of platform. I’m an introvert,” DeVos said.
She added: “As much as many in the media use my name as clickbait or try to make it all about me, it’s not.”
Of course, “clickbait” is another code word in the “fake news” vein, and it really means “negative stories that are factually true, but that I don’t like because they make me look bad.”
We’ve covered DeVos before, both to point out her ignorance about how schools work and how she sought to defund the special Olympics while committing $60 million in federal money to charter schools in the latest budget. But perhaps the one piece everyone should read if they really want to understand DeVos’ mission is this Mother Jones feature on her mission—and I mean that word literally—to “end public education as we know it.” It’s called “Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build “God’s Kingdom,” and this quote from 2001 about whether public dollars should be used to finance private Christian schools really says it all:
“There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”
And that’s the rub here—DeVos’ ultimate aim, it seems clear, is not just to use taxpayer dollars to fund traditional charter schools, which is bad enough. She wants to transform the system to the extent that our money would even go to private Christian schools. The latter is more offensive from a “separation of church and state” perspective, but both are ruinous to true public schools. It’s a classic conservative tactic—defund the thing thing you don’t like, watch it fail, and then use its failure as justification for continued defunding and eventual abandonment as cash flows to the private sector.
Really, you just have to follow the money, as Mother Jones did:
While Dick and Betsy DeVos have donated large amounts to hospitals, health research, and arts organizations, these records show an overwhelming emphasis on funding Christian schools, evangelical missions, and conservative, free-market think tanks like the Acton Institute and the Mackinac Center that want to shrink the public sector in every sphere, including education.
This is a full-fledged attack on public education in America, and as with most policies in which far-right conservativism and Christianity intersect, it’s going to hurt poor people and people of color the most.
In short, Betsy DeVos deserves all the criticism she gets, and the notion that any of it is “clickbait” is as disingenuous as the idea that DeVos herself is concerned in any way about the quality of education in America.