Saturday, January 14, 2017

PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 14: Ms. DeVos seems to have no interest whatsoever in helping poor kids get the education they need in American public schools, where 50 million (90%) kids attend. I’ve not been able to find a single instance of her ever visiting a public school.

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup Jan 14, 2017
Ms. DeVos seems to have no interest whatsoever in helping poor kids get the education they need in American public schools, where 50 million (90%) kids attend.  I’ve not been able to find a single instance of her ever visiting a public school.

Nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education
Live video of the confirmation hearing will be available here on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 Time: 05:00 PM
Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee website

WSJ: Who’s Afraid of Betsy DeVos?
Trump’s Education nominee is the top Democratic target.
Wall Street Journal Updated Jan. 14, 2017 8:27 a.m. ET
Democrats are searching for a cabinet nominee to defeat, and it’s telling that progressive enemy number one is Betsy DeVos.Donald Trump’s choice to run the Education Department has committed the unpardonable sin of devoting much of her fortune to helping poor kids escape failing public schools.  Progressives and their media allies have spent the last week roughing up Mrs. DeVos in preparation for her Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, which will feature the charms of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Liberals claim that Mrs. DeVos, wife of former Amway president Dick DeVos, is unqualified to lead the Education Department because she’s never been a teacher.  Yet the same crowd howls that bankers shouldn’t be regulating banks. Which is it? Managing a bureaucracy isn’t like running a classroom, though both require a steely resolve. Most Education secretaries have been former teachers or school superintendents—not that student test scores are better for it.  Perhaps Mrs. DeVos’s most important qualification is that she has the courage of her convictions. Progressives are willing to brook billionaires who use their wealth to expand government or augment their political influence. Hyatt heiress Penny Pritzker, whose family is a major Democratic patron, served as President Obama’s Commerce secretary. But a conservative who’s dedicated her private fortune to liberating poor kids trapped in lousy public schools? The horror!

NYT: Trump’s Pick for Education Could Face Unusually Stiff Resistance
New York Times By KATE ZERNIKE JAN. 12, 2017
Nominees for secretary of education have typically breezed through confirmation by the Senate with bipartisan approval.  But Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice for the post, is no typical nominee. She is a billionaire with a complex web of financial investments, including in companies that stand to win or lose from the department she would oversee. She has been an aggressive force in politics for years, as a prominent Republican donor and as a supporter of steering public dollars to private schools.  Her wealth and her politics seem likely to make her confirmation hearing unusually contentious, and possibly drawn out.  The hearing, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday of this week, was postponed until Tuesday after Democrats complained she had not completed an agreement with the independent Office of Government Ethics that outlined a plan to deal with potential conflicts of interest. The ethics office has said it has not completed its review of Ms. DeVos, which is required before the office can make any agreement. A spokesman for Ms. DeVos said she had responded to a first round of questions from the office last weekend.

“More parents around the country are choosing charter schools. In the last six years, enrollment has grown by more than sixty percent. The schools are expected to get a boost if Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education, is confirmed. DeVos has spent much of her career — and millions of dollars — promoting school choice.
More than a quarter of charter school students are African American, but civil rights leaders are divided over their growth. In the fall, the NAACP called for a moratorium on charter school expansion, amid concerns the schools are diverting higher-performing kids — and resources — away from traditional public schools, without the same accountability.  “We see all across the country, charter schools expanding in ways that impoverish public education as a whole,” said NAACP president Cornell Brooks.  That position has put the civil rights group at odds with many black leaders, who see charter schools as an alternative to failing neighborhood schools, particularly for kids from low-income families.”
The civil rights divide over charter schools
NPR Marketplace by Amy Scott January 12, 2017 | 3:50 PM
Julieanna Nelson-Saunders, 11, attends KIPP Ujima Village Academy, a public charter middle school in Baltimore. - Amy Scott/Marketplace  Inside a small brick row house in northwest Baltimore, Md., Tiela Smith pulls on a parka, pink hat and gloves and a huge backpack. Then she heads out the door to walk one block to Langston Hughes elementary school.  But instead of going inside, she walks around the side of the building to a parking lot, where a yellow school bus is waiting. Langston Hughes closed last year, so Tiela, 8, now rides the bus a mile away to Arlington elementary.   Tiela doesn’t mind, she said, because “when you don’t walk your legs don’t feel tired.”  Her mom Nieasha Paige, a former teacher’s aide, does mind. Paige is legally blind, and said she misses the convenience and peace of mind of walking her daughter to the neighborhood school down the street.  “It was a good school,” she said. Classes were small, everyone knew each other. At Arlington, she said, “it’s okay and everything, but it’s not like Langston Hughes.”  The reasons Langston Hughes closed are complicated. Academically, it was one of the best-performing schools in its impoverished neighborhood of Park Heights. But enrollment had fallen over the years – partly, many believe, from competition from nearby charter schools.

Philly Councilwoman Gym joins call to Sen. Casey for open hearings on DeVos
The notebook January 13, 2017 — 6:01pm
Betsy DeVos has been chosen by President-elect Donald Trump as his secretary of education. DeVos, a billionaire, has poured money into Pennsylvania state politics to promote school reform and vouchers.
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym has sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, asking that the confirmation hearing on Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education be opened up to other voices, especially to those wary that she will accelerate privatization of public schools.  DeVos, a strong proponent of charters and vouchers, has drawn opposition from the major teachers' unions and other public education advocates.  "Pennsylvania's experience provides direct insight into the harmful impact of the failed policies Ms. DeVos has spent her life advancing," Gym's letter says. "Our state already feels the ill effects of a weak charter law that makes it difficult to close corrupt or poor-performing charter schools." DeVos' hearing, which was postponed once, is now scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Councilwoman Gym’s Letter to Sen. Casey
Dear Senator Casey: Public schools are at the heart of our democratic society. That's why millions of Americans will be paying close attention as the Senate holds hearings on our nation's top education official on January 17. Based on her track record in politics and education policy, Betsy DeVos' potential confirmation would pose great harm to students in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, and across the country. I ask you to oppose the nomination of Betsy DeVos as education secretary and to ensure that your committee conducts a robust open hearing that provides an opportunity for outside witnesses and testimony to present this controversial nominee's full record to the nation. Billionaire Betsy DeVos is the first candidate for education secretary with no relevant experience in the classroom, running a public school system, or managing large organizations. For years, she has devoted her efforts and her family'S wealth to expensive lobbying campaigns: to privatize public education; to expand charter schools without accountability; to lobby for voucher programs that divert public resources to private and religious institutions; and to eliminate the power of labor unions. Moreover, in the absence of a complete ethics review, her family's extensive holdings raise serious concerns about conflicts of interest and her ability to fairly manage the Department of Education.

Education deans to Trump: We’re ‘seriously concerned’ about your agenda
Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss January 13 at 2:29 PM 
More than 175 deans of colleges and schools of education across the United States have issued a letter saying that they are “seriously concerned” about the agenda of the incoming Trump administration and urging it and Congress to protect the U.S. education system.
The letter doesn’t specifically name President-elect Donald Trump or his education secretary nominee, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos, but it is clearly aimed at policies they have espoused, including Trump’s stated intention of spending $20 billion in federal funds for block grants for states to support vouchers for children to attend private schools. Critics of that plan and other corporate school reform initiatives say that public school districts are harmed when public funds are directed elsewhere.
The deans offered four guiding principles for officials:
·         Uphold the role of public schools as a central institution in the strengthening of our democracy
·         Protect the human and civil rights of all children and youth, especially those from historically marginalized communities
·         Develop and implement policies, laws and reform initiatives by building on a democratic vision for public education and on sound educational research
·         Support and partner with colleges and schools of education to advance these goals.
DeVos was supposed to go have a Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 11, but it was postponed until next week because the Office of Government Ethics had not finished its review of her financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest.

Six Reasons To Oppose Betsy DeVos
Huffington Post by Peter Greene Teacher and writer; blogger, 1/14/2017 09:16 am ET
Senate hearings on Herr Trump’s cabinet picks are coming up soon, and you should be calling your Senator. Regardless of your political leanings, there are many good reasons for opposing Betsy DeVos as a Secretary of Education.
1) No experience with public education.
This is not like appointing someone to the post of Attorney General who is not a lawyer— this is like appointing someone Attorney General who has never been to court. DeVos grew up in private school, sent her kids to private school, and has spent her adult life advocating for private schools. She has literally no first hand knowledge of how the public education system works, for better or worse. As Senator Elizabeth Warren put it in her letter to DeVos:
There is no precedent for an Education Department Secretary nominee with your lack of experience in public education. While past nominees for Secretary of Education have served as teachers, school system leaders, and governors, and came to the Department of Education with deep executive experience in public education, you have held no such position.

2) No organizational experience.
DeVos’s experience is strictly in philanthropic advocacy, a sort of checkbook lobbying that has never required her to work with people with whom she disagrees. As Secretary of Education, she will need to work with governors, congresspersons, and the sprawling USED staff, many of whom are going to disagree with her in matters of policy and philosophy. As a philanthropic advocate, she has been able to surround herself with people who are like-minded and/or beholden to her. That would not be her situation as Secretary; she would have to build coalitions, reach compromise, earn trust and cooperation, and all without the use of her checkbook— she cannot simply threaten her way to compliance as she has in Michigan. One of the great criticisms of Arne Duncan was that he could not play well with Congress, instead insisting on dictating as if he were The Boss. Everything in DeVos’s background, including her dismissal of both political parties as failures, suggests that she would be even worse.

Betsy DeVos will be a champion for all American students
Since I am a former governor of the great state of Michigan — and a firm believer in excellence for our nation’s education system — I often get asked about President-elect Trump’s choice as the next leader of the U.S. Department of Education. In each response, I start by calling Betsy DeVos a highly qualified, creative and promising pick to lead the department.  America doesn’t need more fights around education. We need solutions —proven ways to educate students, helping them become good citizens who succeed in life and the working world. Business leaders are intently focused on promoting creative approaches that will raise the performance of our K-12 students — making them and the entire U.S. economy more competitive for decades to come. The key is supporting what works, from rigorous standards to charter schools to transparency across the system.  Thankfully, as a businesswoman and entrepreneur, Ms. DeVos has been singularly focused on accountability and results — exactly what our education system needs. She is a particularly strong advocate for increasing accountability of both traditional and charter public schools in Michigan.

Betsy DeVos's Accountability Problem
Her supporters are out to disprove the claim that she is anti-oversight, but key legislation she supported tells a different story.
The Atlantic ALLIE GROSS   JAN 13, 2017
Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has proven to be polarizing.
Teachers, unions, and public-school advocates have argued that DeVos wants to see public education dismantled. They point to the fact that the Michigan billionaire, and the education-advocacy groups she funds, have pushed to funnel public dollars away from traditional public schools and into charter and private schools. DeVos’s proponents, however, argue that adult interests have taken over the education arena and that the nominee supports school choice because the traditional public-education system has failed kids. “Detroit Public Schools are academically and financially bankrupt, and they’ve lost the privilege of educating children in Detroit,” Gary Naeyaert, the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), a charter-advocacy group DeVos bankrolls and helped govern until November, wrote in a 2015 press release describing a plan to “relieve DPS of all teaching responsibilities.”

Report: Former Bush ’41, ’43 Adviser Top Choice for Betsy DeVos’ Deputy
Breitbart by AP by DR. SUSAN BERRY13 Jan 201710
A former economic advisor to both the George H.W. and George W. Bush administrations is reportedly a top candidate for the post of deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, reports Education Week.  Allan B. Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush and executive director of the President’s Council on Competitiveness and deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, is reportedly a top contender to serve as Betsy DeVos’ #1 deputy, if she is confirmed.  According to Education Week:
On the surface at least, Hubbard seems to have a lot in common with his would-be boss, Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the agency.  Like DeVos, Hubbard is a school choice supporter.  And like DeVos, his background is in business. He co-founded and now serves as the chairman of E & A Industries, which has invested in companies that make everything from gluten-free foods to “body-slimming” fashion, according to its website. Also like DeVos: He’s a former state party chair (in Indiana, as opposed to Michigan). And like DeVos, he is a wealthy GOP donor. In fact, he was the 12th richest person in the executive branch in 2004, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Federal Education Policy: What to Expect
Harvard Graduate School of Education Useable Knowledge BY LEAH SHAFER, ON JANUARY 13, 2017 3:53 PM
Since President-elect Trump nominated Betsy DeVos — a philanthropist and school-choice advocate who has been sharply critical of public schools — to be secretary of education, educators have been speculating how the incoming administration will affect American schools.  To find out more about the transition and what we can expect in the coming months, Usable Knowledge spoke with policy analyst Martin West, an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and editor-in-chief of Education Next.

DeVos’s hearing will take place on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.

We had reports from western PA of a telephone campaign by DeVos supporters asking voters to contact their senators to support her nomination.  If you have not already done so, please consider calling Senators Toomey and Casey as noted below.

Betsy DeVos' confirmation hearing is officially set for Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. in 430 Dirksen

Over the past three weeks, I have been unable to find any press coverage of her ever having visited a traditional public school.  She would be welcome to come visit my school district.

In a constituent response letter regarding the nomination of Betsy DeVos dated December 2, 2016, Senator Toomey stated: “I believe she is a great pick.”  His Washington, D.C. phone number is (202) 224-4254  You can find phone numbers for his Pennsylvania offices here

Senator Casey is a member of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee that will be holding the confirmation hearing.  His Washington, D.C. phone number is (202) 224-6324  You can find phone numbers for his Pennsylvania offices by clicking on the “Regions” link at the bottom of this “Contacts” page

Stop DeVos: Hearing delayed but not defeated
Tell Senators Casey and Toomey to Demand Open Hearing, Oppose Billionaire School Privatizer Betsy DeVos for Education
Education Voters PA website
As a result of massive public pressure over the past two weeks, Senate leadership has delayed the DeVos hearing until this coming Tuesday, January 17.
We are speaking out and our elected leaders are listening. But we can't stop yet. 
The HELP committee has decided to hold this hearing with only a single testifier: Betsy DeVos.
This is unacceptable. We must demand an open hearing.
That's why we're calling Senators Casey and Toomey!
Please take a few minutes to call them and then follow up with an email. 
Senator Toomey's DC office: (202) 224-4254
Senator Casey's DC office: (202) 224-6324

NPE Pennsylvania alert: Betsy De Vos
Network for Public Education January 2, 2017 by Carol Burris
The confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos will happen shortly. Please call your senators this week and let them know you oppose her appointment as Secretary of Education. If you called already, please call again.  It is most effective to call a local office. Below is the list of local office locations to drop off a letter, and local numbers to call your senators.  If you want a script for your call, you can find it here.  Please pick up the phone and call.
You can share this alert with friends and family in your state by posting this link:

Blogger note: Have an opinion about the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?  Call these three senators today.
1. Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
2. Senator Toomey's Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-4254
Senator Casey is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
3. Senator Casey’s Offices
Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 224-6324
Toll Free: (866) 802-2833

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