Chris Powell: Public education in state really isn't public at all

A cartoon of education secretary Betsy De Vos has caused controversy after it was compared to an iconic image of Ruby Bridges when she became the first black child to attend a white school in 1960

DeVos hasn't responded to the Murray-Cantwell letter, which asked for "a detailed plan for restoring the information previously available" and particularly information about citizens rights under the disability act. For those who worry about DeVos' ability to radically change education, keep in mind that her power is limited.

That's interesting because the schools have had a higher profile lately due to the confirmation of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos-whose longtime support for virtual schools was aggressively questioned during a contentious confirmation process-and several recent reports on the sector, including an investigation by Education Week. They act to give their children the opportunity of the best education possible.

Using your child as an act of protest is a different goal altogether.

Cartoon shows De Vos being escorted into a school under heavy guard following an incident in Washington DC last week where protesters blocked her from entering a school
Chris Powell: Public education in state really isn't public at all

Chicago has closed dozens of public schools in poor and minority neighborhoods, outsourcing those children to charter chains. The real objection to DeVos has been her advocacy of school choice - that is, giving public schools some competition from charter schools and private schools.

But the nation as a whole, as well as local governmental entities, does a much better job of meeting public needs than Republicans are willing to admit. As Paul Hill, a professor at the University of Washington explained in an interview with NPR, "what they're trying to do is to create options for students who've been in public schools and haven't done well". To divert money from our schools is to end the very things that make a school a home away from home.

We've seen it here as well: previous year, the public education bureaucracy rose up to oppose, and ultimately kill, a constitutional amendment that would've given the state of Georgia more power to rescue kids from certifiably chronically failing schools.

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The Michigan billionaire was confirmed in the Senate in a 51-50 decision, the win decided by a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. McCoy's cartoon uses the same imagery to show DeVos being escorted inside a school under heavy guard.

Indeed, the educational reform that is on the verge of being carried out by the new United States government, an administration that has announced absolutely incorrect policies in other areas but whose education policy is worthy of consideration, finds similarities with the revolution in education carried out in Sweden during the last 20 years.

Only a handful of bills have been introduced in statehouses so far this year dealing with a small but controversial segment of the charter school sector: full-time online charter schools.

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Finally, Devos is a mismatch because she has no knowledge of the federal laws that she is expected to oversee in our schools. I also recognize that the US education system needs a major overhaul.

Democrats are going against her confirmation, believing that, based on the answers she has given at the confirmation hearing, is not eligible to be the new Secretary of Education.

For years DeVos has been an advocate for charter schools in her home state of MI, and her work there has been panned for insulating charter schools from "commonsense oversight", even as traditional public schools founder.

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DeVos was asked if the federal government has a role in education at all, and she said, "It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job, but".


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