Here is a paradox. Congress wrote a new law called “Every Student Succeeds Act,” late in 2015, loaded with limits on the power of the Secretary of Education. Both parties were fed up with Arne Duncan’s overweening reach into every school in the nation, going far beyond what Congress intended. Perhaps they knew that all the boasting about his great successes was empty, as a recent evaluation proved.

But along comes Betsy DeVos, never having ever attended or worked in a public school, and knowing nothing of federal policy or federal programs, who has decided to impose her personal ideology on the schools of America. She knows nothing of evidence, and when it flatly contradicts her ideology, she ignores it. This is the definition of a closed mind.

DeVos wants vouchers. The research says that vouchers haven’t improved student test scores.

Mercedes Schneider says we will learn the details later, stuff like the cost. DeVos claims that every child will be able to attend the same quality school as the most affluent but she knows that no voucher will be large enough to put every student (any student) into an elite private school, that such schools don’t have empty seats, nor do they want the kids with disabilities and a host of other issues. She is peddling empty promises. Does she know it? Does she believe what she is saying?

What we do know is that DeVos’s personal desire to bust up public schools and use federal funds for vouchers has been tried for 25 years without any evidence of success. Indeed, there is a growing body of research showing that children who use vouchers may actually lose ground compared to students in public schools. If vouchers were the solution, as she insists, we would be looking now to Milwaukee and Cleveland as the lodestars of American education. Sadly, they are not. Milwaukee has had vouchers since 1990, Cleveland since 1995. Researchers pore through data looking for the promised gains. They can’t find them.

Why is Congress allowing Trump and DeVos to foist their failed ideas on public schools? If NASA were run like the U.S. Department of Education, every space mission would explode on launch.

When will they learn? Schools need well-prepared, certified educators who are able to do their work as professionals, unencumbered by the petty whims and interventions of politicians. Students need healthcare, food security, and the basic essentials of life. Students and teachers need reasonable class sizes and adequate resources. What they don’t need is disruption and the demonstrably failed policies of a rightwing religious extremist.

Tim Slekar, the dean at Edgewood College in Wisconsin, summarizes the research consensus about the effect of vouchers: Vouchers suck. http://bustedpencils.com/2017/02/busted-pencils-trending-news-vouchers-suck/