Uncommon Knowledge: Empowering Students with Betsy DeVos


What’s wrong with public education in the United States? Betsy DeVos, US secretary of education, analyzes the role of government in the US education system and the changes she’s making to the Department of Education. She discusses her proposal to overhaul the federal education system by rolling back government overreach from the previous administration. She argues that states and parents need to be empowered to make better informed and flexible decisions for where students attend schools. Her plan is to offer states the opportunity to enroll in an optional tax-credit program that would enable more parents to choose where their children go to school, including charter schools.

Secretary DeVos briefly touches on Title IX. She argues that, even though one sexual assault on a college campus is too many, better protections need to be put into place for the accused to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Peter Robinson and Secretary DeVos also discuss the trials of working in her current position and her dedication to serving the parents and students of the United States.

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  1. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block

    Mr. Robinson,

    If you haven’t already, I’d add Mrs. DeVos to your list of people to never cross. She seems like she means business.

    • #1
  2. Michele Coolidge

    I really wonder when Republican thought leaders will get actual knowledgeable education reformers, as opposed to Betsy, who did little more than write checks. Peter needed a lot of correcting.

    First, there are *far* more immigrants coming to America to get their kids to its public k-12 schools than there are coming to our colleges. Remember, our colleges accept international students for the money. Public schools are required to educate all comers, whether they speak English or not, whether they’ve ever been educated before or not.  Yet Asians, Central Americans, Africans, come here as fast and in as many numbers as they can, all to get into our free education system. And all the schools get for it is people complaining that we educate “English learners” badly. Have you ever had a class filled with Punjabis, Guatemalans, Chinese, Salvadorans, and Afghanis, none of whom speak English? And then people like Peter talk about how crap our schools are because he thinks our scores are low. 

    Unlike every other country in the world, America educates all of its students through high school. All the other PISA schools, those scores come from ruthlessly tracked kids. 

    Moreover, America is a multicultural society. Every country shows difference in performance between racial categories. Compare America’s score with predominantly  white, black, Hispanic, Asian countries and we are at the top or near the top.

    Betsy is  simply wrong about the results. The data on vouchers and test scores is horrible. The data on charters and test scores is barely mixed. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about what charter success there is: take kids from chaotic schools, put them in schools that can eject troublemakers and create a decent peer system, and teach everyone 5-10 more hours a week. And voila–slightly higher test scores! Not even *really* higher.


    Betsy talking about “unions” vs “teachers” is nonsense. Unions have absolutely no control over teachers, and unions are doing what teachers want. Don’t kid yourself about unions influencing the opposition. Charters and choice philosophy had a 16 year run in the White House with the full support of two presidents. They got everything they wanted. The public rebelled and that led from the pro-accountability/choice NCLB to the “hands off, feds” ESSA that wiped out most of what the last 16 years had put in place. That wasn’t unions. That was overwhelming rejection by the public.

    (And it’s weird that neither of you mention Janus). 

     Charters and vouchers are basically offering private school at public prices (free). Charters and private schools can cap. Public schools can’t . Charters create duplicate administrative costs, all paid by taxpayers. Worse, they put a strain on teacher supply and we already have a  shortage.  

    In Betsy’s nirvana, the suburbs will buy up all the teachers for their small, free, private schools. There won’t be any left for poor black and Hispanic kids. And there won’t be public schools as a backstop.

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  3. Stad Coolidge

    Michele (View Comment):
    Public schools are required to educate all comers, whether they speak English or not, whether they’ve ever been educated before or not.

    However, they aren’t (or should not be) required to do so in their native togues.  English is the de facto language of the United States, and to not immerse them in English until they are proficient is to do them (and us) a great disservice . . .

    • #3
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