“Oh you can’t help that”, said the cat, “we’re all mad here.”
Today I thought a lot about the beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers that are flocking like mad in my backyard. Why, you ask? As a distraction from my Facebook feed, which is blowing up right now over a 59 year old grandmother from Michigan who just got confirmed as the new Secretary of Education. Once the virtual mob had moved on from tar and feathers and started calling for the guillotine, I’d had enough, so off to the backyard I went. Ahhhhh, such pretty flowers, they really do look an awful lot like birds too.
So who is this person and what’s all the kerfuffle about? Her name is Betsy DeVos and apparently she has some scary ideas about giving low income parents more control over which schools their children can attend. DeVos has been involved in education reform for decades and in 2010 created an organization called the American Federation for Children that backs politicians on board with expanding voucher programs and charter schools.
Outraged yet? Well get this, she also feels that public schools have become an ineffective monopoly, where too many decisions get made for the benefit of the unions that control them over the needs of students. These schools of course end up in the poorest of neighborhoods, trapping families in a rotten system that has little incentive to change.
Ms. Devos thinks offering parents a choice by way of private school vouchers gives kids a shot at a good education, while at the same time bringing much needed competition to failing schools who are forced to reform. In her own words, “Above all, I believe every child, no matter their ZIP code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.”
I know, crazy talk, right? Where’s my pitchfork?
Yes, I’ve read the negative reports on Betsy DeVos’s record of charter school and voucher programs in Michigan and these concerns are not invalid, but nothing I’ve seen provides justification for the devil horns and tail she’s being smeared with.
There are positive reports too that show marked improvement from her efforts, which also should not be overlooked. And here is a more balanced view; long, but nuanced and it provides a detailed look in to Ms. Davos and the complex issues that ensconce education reform.
I’ve been reading off and on about Betsy Devos for the past 20 years and quite honestly I’ve always been impressed. She has a strong passion for helping kids and a hard core dedication for fighting the bloated, change resistant bureaucracy blob that is our education system. She believes in private sector efforts though and a more decentralized process that empowers families instead of the federal government and unions.
Oh the horror, it’s just shocking, because everyone knows what public education in America needs is more bureaucracy, right?
Anyway, back to the garden I go…..just love those flowers!