The New York Times is called (and calls itself) “the newspaper of record.” Talk show hosts, editorial writers, and influentials read the Times. That’s why I get so frustrated by its consistently awful editorials about education, which as a rule favor the data-driven, test-and-punish approach to schooling. But its news writing about education just keeps getting better all the time.


Here is its take on DeVos’ appearance before the HELP committee: a Bronx cheer, a raspberry. The theme of the story: DeVos is in over her head. After a long run as an advocate for school choice, she has no idea about the lingo of federal education policy or about federal law. She is being asked to take charge of a department that administers aid to college students, but knows nothing about the department’s role or programs.


“Her confirmation hearing that night opened her up to new criticism: that her long battle for school choice, controversial as it has been, is the sum total of her experience and understanding of education policy. In questioning by senators, she seemed either unaware or unsupportive of the longstanding policies and functions of the department she is in line to lead, from special education rules to the policing of for-profit universities.


“Ms. DeVos admitted that she might have been “confused” when she appeared not to know that the broad statute that has governed special education for more than four decades is federal law.
“A billionaire investor, education philanthropist and Michigan Republican activist, Ms. DeVos acknowledged that she has no personal experience with student loans — the federal government is the largest provider — and said she would have to “review” the department’s policies aimed at preventing fraud by for-profit colleges.
She appeared blank on basic education terms. Asked how school performance should be assessed, she did not know the difference between growth, which measures how much students have learned over a given period, and proficiency, which measures how many students reach a targeted score.
“Ms. DeVos even became something of an internet punch line when she suggested that some school officials should be allowed to carry guns on the premises to defend against grizzly bears.
“But if she was sometimes rattled on the specifics, Ms. DeVos was unshakable in her belief that education authority should devolve away from the federal government and toward state and local authorities. Whether the issue was allowing guns in schools, how to investigate sexual assault on college campuses, or how to measure learning, her answer was always that states and what she called “locales” knew best.”



Meanwhile, a story on Huffington Post reported that former Senator Joe Lieberman, who introduced DeVos, giving this rightwing extremist a bipartisan gloss, is associated with a law firm that represents Donald Trump.


“Former Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) tonight introduced Donald Trump’s controversial nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to the Senate HELP Committee. Lieberman lavishly praised DeVos, but failed to inform the American people that his law firm, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, “have represented Trump in all manner of matters since at least 2001. Such matters have included, but are certainly not limited to, the restructuring of $1.3 billion in bondholder debt connected to his Atlantic City casinos; a defamation case filed against the author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, for stating that the businessman was worth between $150 million and $250 million, not billions (a suit that Trump later lost); and the fight to keep filings from his 1990 divorce from ex-wife Ivana Trump sealed.”


“Most recently, Lieberman’s law firm represented Trump by threatening the New York Times for publishing pieces of Trump’s tax return.


“In 2012, asked about his future work upon his retirement from the Senate, Lieberman promised, “I’m not going to lobby. For sure.” In 2013, as a member of Kasowitz Benson, Lieberman registered to be a lobbyist, representing a Libyan politician.




“As soon as the election was over, Trump abandoned his promise to drain the swamp of corruption in Washington and stand up for working people. His appointment of entitled billionaire Betsy DeVos, who has financial investments in education companies, has favored privatization over public education, has failed to finalize the necessary paperwork with the Office of Government Ethics prior to her hearing, has contributed millions to the Republican Party, and is now opposed by leading civil rights and education groups and 68 members of the congressional black, Hispanic, and Asia Pacific American caucuses, is part of this betrayal.


“Joe Lieberman’s invocation of his Democratic Party credentials to endorse DeVos, without mentioning out loud to the American people that his law firm has long worked for Trump, is yet another piece of the deep corruption Trump is bringing to Washington.”