Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approvingly cited a study to trash public schools. But she left out the part of the study trashing her.
On Tuesday, the right-wing, corporate-backed American Enterprise Institute held a forum on how to move on from Bush-Obama School Reform.
The group hosted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who famously has no qualifications for her role other than being a billionaire GOP donor who has poured money into pushing failed school privatization schemes.
At the meeting, DeVos railed against the very existence of her own department, citing entrenched Washington bureaucrats … under both Republican and Democratic administrations who have broken public schools.
As supposed evidence of her claim, she referred to a finding by the American Federation of Teachers, a union of public education professionals that boasts 1.9 million members, “that 60 percent of its teachers reported having moderate to no influence over the content and skills taught in their own classrooms.”
“Let that sink in,” she told the audience.
While the AFT survey of 5,000 educators DeVos cited did indeed say teachers had concerns over control of content, there is a much bigger part DeVos left out, as AFT helpfully noted on Twitter.
— AFT (@AFTunion) January 16, 2018
Continued AFT: According to our recent stress survey, 86% of educators feel disrespected by @BetsyDeVosEd. In fact, more American educators feel disrespected by DeVos than anyone else in the entire world. You cant blame Bush & Obama for that.
Since @BetsyDeVosEd has proposed cutting $9B from the federal education budget, AFT said, maybe dropping that proposal would help make teachers less stressed. Just a thought. #BushObamaSchoolReform
The proposed budget cuts aren’t the only problem. DeVos recently rescinded 72 documents outlining the rights of disabled students which could create confusion from district to district and make the lives of special education teachers, in particular, much more difficult.
And for her own part, DeVos is openly disrespectful of the work teachers do. After touring a school in Washington, she disdainfully criticized teachers’ attitudes, saying they were in receive mode and that they’re “not going to bring success to an individual child.”
DeVos is also an anti-union champion, which has put her at odds with teachers’ unions, including AFT, since before she was even confirmed to the Cabinet.
“Ironically, DeVos’ agenda to get rid of unions and defund public education goes in the opposite direction of what she claimed to support,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement to Shareblue Media. “That’s why the same report she cited showed that 86 percent of teacher surveyed felt disrespected by DeVos and 95 percent of educators said they needed strong unions. So if we really do agree on this, Id ask her to spend more time listening to what teachers say they need to be successful.”
There have been plenty of legitimate flaws in previous presidents attempts to direct school policy. But DeVoss favored solutions of rescinding federal civil rights guidelines and diverting funds to private education will do nothing to give teachers more control or dignity it will just exacerbate inequality.
If DeVos wants to seriously empower teachers, she should not blindly slash her department and ignore its mandates. In doing so, she has only worsened the problems she rails against.