And a couple of additional items.
In the lead-up to billionaire Republican megadonor and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, numerous media outlets published deep-dive investigations into DeVos’ background, significant political contributions, potential conflicts of interest, far-right ideology, and negative influence on Michigan policies.
But since she formally took over at the Department of Education, the investigative work seems to have mostly dropped off; coverage of DeVos has focused more on her public gaffes than the inner workings of the agency she now runs. It certainly doesn’t help that DeVos and her department have struggled with media transparency. As education media writer Alexander Russo wrote, “DeVos takes press questions at events only occasionally, has yet to grant a formal interview with a major national education reporter, and heads a department that only intermittently provides answers in a timely manner – through a spokesperson whose name reporters are forbidden to use. The agency has even struggled to put out her weekly schedule in advance of public events.”
It’s time for investigative journalists to dig deeper and shine light on DeVos’ priorities, such as early staffing decisions at the Education Department. There’s certainly plenty to explore — many of the temporary staffers in the Education Department are veterans of the right-wing think tank echo chamber on “education reform,” and some have anti-LGBTQ and anti-black track records. Like DeVos, almost none have spent significant time as educators.
Over the years my email address has found its way onto a lot of lists. I rarely unsubscribe because they’re one of my data streams, albeit not the most efficient one to say the least, for what’s going on. I’ve been getting a lot, lately, about what belongs in the Democratic Party platform. (I’m of the belief that when it comes to the actual presidential election, the platform means about as much as the VP pick. That is, not a whole lot. But it’s not meaningless, either.) #1 is a measure opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (a noble effort, but unsuccessful). A strong anti-fracking statement is probably second (ditto). Single-payer health care pops up now and then. And a handful of others have appeared.
I have yet to get one to the effect that the Dem platform needs to feature a really strong, unequivocal statement supporting public schools, everywhere and always, in the face of relentless deformer assaults. Here’s what‘s in the July 1 draft, and it apparently wasn‘t touched during final pre-convention negotiations a few days ago. The term I‘d apply is “boilerplate.”
We will ensure there are great Pre-K-12 schools in every zip code. Democrats are committed to the federal government continuing to play a critical role in working towards an America where a world-class education is available to every child. Democrats believe that a strong public education system is an anchor of our democracy, a propeller of the economy, and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams. Public education must engage students to be critical thinkers and civic participants while addressing the wellbeing of the whole child.
Which isn’t surprising. Those of us working against corporate takeovers of public education have been winning in some ways, but not in others. Not enough to where too many electeds are about to stand on principle, regardless of where the money is coming from. We’ll just have to keep at it.
Update: It turns out that some worthy changes were made.
Unfortunately, the amendment process in Orlando did not consider adding a progressive vision for public education to the platform, but many of the specifics in the document shifted to the left, thanks mostly to supporters of the Sanders campaign joining with Clinton supporters to press for progressive change…
One way you can tell how much the document has been improved is by noticing the angry objections to the changes coming from centrist “reformers.”
(Campaign for America’s Future)
(This is the last part. Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 here, here, here, and here.)
I’ve been meaning for a while to do a series of blog posts like this, in order to try to really nail down where we’re at vs. the deformer-privatization/profiteering movement.
The result is, I don’t know who’s winning in the battle vs. the deformers, or whether it even makes sense to call it a “battle.” I don’t know whether the Every Student Succeeds Act will in fact help, hurt, or make little difference. (Here’s more on that.) I don’t know of a quick, easy way to clean up the charter movement and cut it (way) down to size. I don’t know how to readily fix the funding gap. And so forth.
Or, rather, I do know how to fix those things, and so do you: get better people into power, and keep them there. I just don’t know how, in practical reality, to consistently make that happen. Which isn’t surprising, given that it’s been one of the key problems of all of human history, everywhere.
I also know that a lot of people are fed up with deform. For example: