Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos hates public schools, plus other stuff and such…. (More)

“Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom”

So DeVos declared back in a 2001 interview dug up by Mother Jones’ Kristina Rizga:

Since her nomination, DeVos hasn’t said much publicly about her views on education—or whether she plans to defend the separation of church and state in public schools. (DeVos declined Mother Jones’ request for an interview, but a Trump transition team spokeswoman replied in an email, “Mrs. DeVos believes in the legal doctrine of the separation of church and state.”) However, in a 2001 interview for “The Gathering,” a group focused on advancing Christian faith through philanthropy, she and her husband offered a rare public glimpse of their views. Asked whether Christian schools should continue to rely on philanthropic dollars – rather than pushing for taxpayer money through vouchers – Betsy DeVos replied, “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…[versus] what is currently being spent every year on education in this country…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom.”

Rizga details how DeVos and other conservatives have played a very long game on education, using the Overton Window to nudge the dialogue more and more toward shutting down public schools and instead using taxpayer dollars to fund private – mostly religious – schools. And in her confirmation hearing yesterday, DeVos refused to admit or deny that:

Senator Patty Murray asked DeVos if she would promise not to privatize public schools or cut funding from public education. DeVos said “not all schools are working for the students” and she hopes to work with Murray to find ways to “empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them.”

“I take that as not be willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education,” Murray responded.

She was also unable to answer basic questions about how to measure schools’ effectiveness:

When Senator Al Franken asked DeVos to give her opinion on whether schools should be judged by students’ proficiency or growth, DeVos seemed unfamiliar with the terms. Franken explained that the question of which metric should be used in federal education policy has been a subject of debate for years. “It surprises me you don’t know this issue,” Franken said.

Perhaps that’s because private schools are allowed to pick their own standardized tests and withhold the scores:

Public schools are required by law to administer the test chosen by the state government and to publish their test scores. Meanwhile, private schools are free to pick their own standardized tests and, because they don’t rely on public funds, do not have to release their scores, though interested parents can ask to see them.
[…]
Public schools are required by state and federal regulations to publish their test scores, but private schools – operating without public funds and outside of close government supervision – are not obligated to do so.

Just as in the public school arena, the private school community debates how much emphasis to place on test scores. Many private schools pride themselves on providing creative and nurturing environments rather than a one-size-fits-all education. Patrick F. Bassett, president of the National Association of Independent Schools, writes on the NAIS Web site that, “those who understand curriculum and instruction, and who are rightfully skeptical about the value of standardized tests in general, also worry very much about the deleterious impact of the movement on children. With all the memorization and test preparation, will students still be taught to think critically? Will they learn to love learning?”

Yep, the same people who demand high-stakes standardized tests to set funding for public schools – under the guise of “accountability” – insist their students are unique snowflakes whose progress can’t be judged by mere standardized tests.

Oh, and she thinks school officials need guns on campus because “potential grizzlies.” Seriously.

“It’s a challenge we relish”

Meanwhile, the Columbia Journalism Review has a message for the Caudillo-elect:

Access is preferable, but not critical. You may decide that giving reporters access to your administration has no upside. We think that would be a mistake on your part, but again, it’s your choice. We are very good at finding alternative ways to get information; indeed, some of the best reporting during the campaign came from news organizations that were banned from your rallies. Telling reporters that they won’t get access to something isn’t what we’d prefer, but it’s a challenge we relish.

Off the record and other ground rules are ours – not yours – to set. We may agree to speak to some of your officials off the record, or we may not. We may attend background briefings or off-the-record social events, or we may skip them. That’s our choice. If you think reporters who don’t agree to the rules, and are shut out, won’t get the story, see above.

We decide how much airtime to give your spokespeople and surrogates. We will strive to get your point of view across, even if you seek to shut us out. But that does not mean we are required to turn our airwaves or column inches over to people who repeatedly distort or bend the truth. We will call them out when they do, and we reserve the right, in the most egregious cases, to ban them from our outlets.

We believe there is an objective truth, and we will hold you to that. When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly. Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions; the fact that you or someone on your team said them is newsworthy, but so is the fact that they don’t stand up to scrutiny. Both aspects should receive equal weight.

We’ll obsess over the details of government. You and your staff sit in the White House, but the American government is a sprawling thing. We will fan reporters out across the government, embed them in your agencies, source up those bureaucrats. The result will be that while you may seek to control what comes out of the West Wing, we’ll have the upper hand in covering how your policies are carried out.

In short: Bring it on. And as it happens, the Washington Post has set up an investigative team to probe conflicts of interests in the Grifter-elect’s administration, and Politico’s Jack Shafer says trying to shut out the media will make them stronger:

As Trump shuts down White House access to reporters, they will infest the departments and agencies around town that the president has peeved. The intelligence establishment, which Trump has deprecated over the issue of Russian hacking, owes him no favors and less respect. It will be in their institutional interest to leak damaging material on Trump. The same applies to other bureaucracies. Will a life-long EPA employ take retirement knowing he won’t be replaced, or if he is, by somebody who will take policy in a direction he deplores? Such an employee could be a fine source. Trump, remember, will only be president, not emperor, and as such subject to all the passive-aggressive magic a bureaucracy can produce. Ditto the Pentagon, the State Department, the FBI, and even conventionally newsless outposts like Transportation and Labor.

A probe in Monday’s Post reveals a tangle of potential regulatory conflicts for Trump at HUD, the FAA, Labor, the Trademark Office and the EPA more twisting and knotted than 10 pounds of thin spaghetti cooling in a colander. Trump’s decision to transfer control of his business to his sons has created, in the words of Axios reporter Mike Allen, “a story that will never go away.” Giant servings will be available to every reporter who lines up to place an order.

I agree with Shafer. Our media will be stronger – not weaker – if they shift from inside-access-dependent stenography back to good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting.

“A simple ‘thank you’ would suffice”

Also, Maine Gov. Paul LePage things John Lewis and The Blax should be eternally grateful to Republicans:

Before he said he does not see President-elect Donald Trump as a “legitimate president,” Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) should’ve taken a “look at history” and all Republican presidents have done for civil rights — at least, that’s the opinion of Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R). “It was Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant that fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple ‘thank you’ would suffice,” LePage said during an interview Tuesday on WVOM Maine radio’s George Hale and Ric Tyler Show, while discussing Lewis’ comment that he believes Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

First, LePage’s history is bullshit:

The Portland Press Herald pointed out that LePage’s claims about 19th-century Republican presidents’ contributions to civil rights simply aren’t accurate: While Grant did oversee the Republican Party’s efforts to end slavery and protect African Americans’ rights, Hayes “oversaw the end of the Reconstruction era, giving rise to the enactment of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation,” the Portland Press Herald reported.

Second, LePage’s colleagues are busy shouting that Rep. Lewis should stop “trading on” his own sacrifices from “decades ago” … while insisting they should get credit for things Republicans did back in the 1800s.

Third, every time some Republican trots out the “Lincoln freed the slaves!” bromide … remember that Republicans and Democrats re-sorted on race back in the Nixon era.

And fourth, LePage’s argument presumes that Rep. Lewis and African-Americans have some perpetual duty to keep saying: “Thank you, White Americans, for letting us be human beings instead of property!”

I bet he also thinks abused wives should thank their husbands for not beating them that day….

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Image Credit: Scratch; Composite: Crissie Brown (BPICampus.com)

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Good day and good nuts