By February 4, 2017 Uncategorized No Comments

In a recent Medium post, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) argued, “Democrats desperately are searching for a valid reason to oppose Betsy DeVos for U.S. Education Secretary.”

The senator is right.

Other than Ms. DeVos’s complete lack of experience in public education; her dearth of knowledge and understanding of basic education policy issues; the absence of any defined plans or vision for improving American education, and the myriad ethical entanglements resulting from her millions of dollars in political contributions to the very people voting on her confirmation, I also cannot think of a single reason to oppose her selection.

On the other hand, I can come up with quite a few great reasons why the full Senate should confirm Ms. DeVos this Monday.

Let’s count them down together.

#10: Betsy will stand up to the entrenched Grizzly Bear union. 

Forget poverty, lack of resources, overcrowded classes, teacher shortages, and excessive bureaucracy, Betsy correctly identified the biggest threat facing schools today – the American Grizzly.

For too many years, administrators have had to stand idly by while these vicious animals roam the hallways of their schools mauling defenseless children, particularly poor, minority students in our cities. Then, even when they’re occasionally caught – literally red-handed – their powerful, well organized union makes it nearly impossible to move these bad bears out.

That’s about to change! For you bears reading this now, it’s time to pack your bags and get back to the woods where you belong. Betsy has put you on notice.

“Wait, I’m famous now, why? And who wants to shoot me?” (Credit: Peter Greene)

#9: Betsy says she’ll do the job for only $1.00 a year!

This means that Ms. DeVo$ is willing to forgo the $199,700 annual salary that comes with this cabinet appointment. She probably has that much in the couch cushions of her lake house. This is going to save the taxpayers $199,699 a year, or $798,796 for Trump’s initial term of office. At this rate, DeVos will be able to pay off the entire US debt of $20 trillion in only 100 million years. Go, Betsy!

#8: Betsy supports accountability.

If you have any doubts about this, I’ll remind you of this exchange between Senator Tim Kaine and DeVos at her recent confirmation hearing:

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.”

#7: Betsy is honest and tells it like it is. 

When is comes to buying influence, Ms. DeVos doesn’t mince her words:  “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return.”

Now, how refreshing is that?

#6: Jeb Bush is a big fan of Betsy.

Shortly after calling DeVos “an extraordinary pick” for Secretary of Education, Governor Bush penned the following in his endorsement letter to the US Senate:

“In my almost 30 years of involvement in education reform, I have never met a person better versed in policy or more effective in pursing reforms that benefit children. There is no one more qualified to lead the U.S. Department of Education. I encourage the swift confirmation of Betsy DeVos.”

Heavens to Betsy! Jeb has NEVER met ANYONE better versed in education policy? No one MORE qualified? That’s rather astonishing, don’t you think?

But, who am I to judge?

If there was ever an expert on ruining public schools, it would have to be Jeb, though Arne Duncan and Bill Gates could give him a run for his money. During Jeb’s reign as Governor of Florida (2001-2009), statewide ACT scores dropped a full point from 20.6 to 19.6, the largest decline in the nation over that period relative to the national trend. Say what you want, this man knows how to destroy public schools.

Oh, and we in Oklahoma all know what a great judge of talent Governor Bush has been over the years. And he drinks white wine – that’s cool.

#5: Betsy is a strong supporter, oops, I mean opponent of common core standards.

Channeling John Kerry’s famous quote about his support of the Iraq War, Betsy was apparently for the common core before she was against it. Despite serving for nearly a decade as the head of the board of trustees of the Great Lakes Education Project, a strong Core supporter, Betsy is now ostensibly firmly against the common core initiative.

Appearing with Trump at one of his “thank you to voters” rallies, in Grand Rapids, Mich., DeVos said she will work to put “an end to the federal Common Core” and let states set their own standards. Apparently nobody told her that states already can do this.

#4: Betsy knows how to close the achievement gap in schools.

In her home state of Michigan, Betsy’s efforts in promoting school choice and charters have contributed greatly to the virtually non-existent achievement gap between black and white students in Detroit on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  As one researcher said after analyzing the data: “The achievement gap is zero in Detroit largely because everyone’s doing really poorly, not because black students are doing particularly well.” Hey, but look – no gaps!

#3: Betsy has extensive government experience.

It may be more accurate to say Ms. DeVos has extensive government-buying experience or experience in buying extensive government. What is true is that $200 million in campaign donations can buy a WHOLE lot of experienced people in government.

#2. Betsy is a great speaker.

Do you remember this wonderful speech Betsy made at the “start-of-term feast?”

“Hem-Hem… Thank you, headmaster, for those kind words of welcome. […] The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young witches and wizards to be of a vital importance. Although each headmaster has brought something new to this… historic school, progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. Let us preserve what must be preserved, perfect what can be perfected and prune practices that ought to be… prohibited!”

Oh, wait a minute. I think I may have confused Betsy with Dolores Umbridge! I sometimes get my power-hungry witches mixed up.

I’m sorry, that one was a little mean. Let me close the list out with something a tad more positive.

The number one reason the US Senate should confirm Betsy DeVos as our next Secretary of Education is …

#1. Betsy is controversial. 

Let’s be real. It has been so boring being an educator for the past 15 years. It will be terrific to finally have a little turmoil, start firing teachers willy-nilly, and shutting down a few schools out there.

And won’t it be nice to have someone in charge in Washington who doesn’t have a clue what’s going on? In fact, Senator Joe Lieberman recently stated the fact DeVos comes from outside the education establishment “is one of the most important qualifications you could have for the job.”

Thanks so much for that, Joe! What’s next? Will you be supporting the selection of an auto mechanic as our nation’s next Surgeon General?

More than anything, educators enjoy being disparaged and belittled by the very individual who is supposed to be the chief advocate for public education in America. We love to be reminded how lazy, greedy, and uncaring we are and that we are failing America’s children. We want to be able to compete for scarce dollars and our best students with religious private schools and corporate charters.

Of course, we all know that running more schools is cheaper and more efficient than running fewer schools. It’s simple economics, right?

Based on the above qualifications, I fully expect Ms. DeVos to be selected as our new Education Secretary when she comes up for a vote.

If that happens, Betsy will want to watch her back the next time she visits Alaska.

Grizzlies have VERY long memories.

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