Besides there being no shock to her ill informed, quarter assed effort as Education Secretary, a year after her ill informed quarter assed effort as a nominee… Slate calls out the policies that corporatist Democrats have been pushing for a long damn time. Now I like Cory Booker*. Met him once and he was as kind and gracious as you’d imagine. And lord knows he was in the crucible running Newark’s schools, but he’s been on the same track as ninnies like DeVos forever. Because there’s no points scored for supporting public schools to the hilt, there’s always some new fangled way of edumacating that will fix everything if only the dirty fucking hippies** will stop sniffing the pachouli, realize it’s not the 60s anymore and let us guys in suits fix it!
Lesley Stahl: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they’re doing?
Betsy DeVos: I have not—I have not—I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.
But if I’m reading the reaction to the clip correctly, what seems to be striking most people as ridiculous is DeVos’ advocacy of two particular ideas:
• That rewarding high-performing schools with more resources will compel low-performing schools to improve themselves.
• That school-choice programs should be expanded despite mixed or poor results in states such as Michigan.
The bad news for Democrats who found DeVos’ performance appalling is that these principles have been a crucial part of their party’s education policy for 17 years. Broadly speaking, the regime of compelling competition between schools by creating charter-school or school-choice programs and by rewarding those whose students do well on standardized tests was launched at a federal level by the No Child Left Behind Act; the NCLB was co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy and passed the Senate in 2001 with 87 votes. When Barack Obama became president, he created the Race to the Top program, which the Washington Post described at the time as a “competition for $4.35 billion in grants” that would “ease limits on charter schools” and “tie teacher pay to student achievement,” i.e. direct extra funds to already-successful schools.
*Cory Booker is great anyway. And so is Kirsten Gillibrand even though she screwed Al Franken. Nobody is perfect. They’re both way more than 80% with us, enuf said.
**You know, dirty fucking hippies like 17th century New Englanders, Horace Mann, John Dewey, etc.