Betsy DeVos was honored by the rightwing Manhattan Institute. In her by now well-rehearsed speech, she ridiculed the idea of spending more money on public schools, and extolled school choice. She singled out Mayor deBlasio’s Renewal program for criticism.

Matt Barnum has a good summary in Chalkbeat of her boilerplate remarks and appropriately notes how she cherrypicked data and ignored recent studies about the poor results of vouchers, one of her favorite causes. He noted that the Manhattan Institute had praised the Mayor’s efforts.

The charter industry in New York City hopes to persuade the State Legislature to raise the charter cap in the city. The state has unused slots but the city does not. They claim there’s a wait list for their charters but at the same time they demand access to the names and addresses of public school students whom they bombard with recruitment letters. If they have a long wait list, why are they recruiting?

He wrote:

Other recent studies have shown that more money for schools benefits students in a number of ways. DeVos also did not mention research, including a recent study in Louisiana, showing that private school voucher programs hurt students’ math test scores.

But she was on firmer empirical ground criticizing de Blasio’s Renewal program and praising New York City’s charter schools, which tend to outperform district schools on state exams. A recent study found that the Renewal turnaround approach didn’t lead to clear improvements in test scores or high school graduation rates, but did seem to boost attendance.

Ironically, the Manhattan Institute analysis has offered the most optimistic view of the Renewal program. DeVos didn’t bring up this study.

Of course, New York City’s charters are free to push out the students they don’t want, which raises test scores.

Having DeVos as their ally won’t be helpful to their cause now that both Houses of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats.

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  1. bethree5 says:

    “A recent study from professors at Stanford and Harvard confirms that 50 years of spending more money on ‘the system’ — including over a trillion dollars from federal taxpayers — has not improved student achievement, especially for the most vulnerable among us.”
    The fed contribution to the cost of K12 ed is minimal. Yes it has increased– from under 6% in early ’90’s to 8.3% last year. Still doesn’t seem like much to hang your hat on when you’re coming around preaching austerity cuz increased [fed] spending “hasn’t produced results.” And all she’s got to offer is, NYC should shift more of their own funds around in a winner/ loser shell game?

  2. Chiara says:

    “preaching to the choir of the think tank’s benefactors and supporters, DeVos stuck closely to her usual script: pouring more money into schools doesn’t work, but expanding school choice and “freedom” does.”

    She literally works every day to cut funding and support to public school students.

    I understand that she’s an ideologue so she must promote charter and private schools over public schools, that’s her mission, but is it necessary for her to lobby AGAINST public schools? How is this hostility towards public school students acceptable even within “the choir” of ed reformers?

    How can harming public schools, the schools the vast majority of students attend, somehow result in “better public education”?

    • NYC public school parent says:

      “She literally works every day to cut funding and support to public school students.”

      Bingo! Presumably that is why her kindred spirit Eva Moskowitz worked so very hard to get DeVos confirmed.

      • dianeravitch says:

        Eva didn’t have to work all that hard to get Betsy confirmed. The Republican Senators fell all over each other praising her. She had contributed millions to their campaigns. Slam dunk.

      • NYC public school parent says:

        The Republicans needed someone to give them cover for embracing DeVos and the far right agenda as DeVos was extremely unpopular even among some Republicans. Who would sell out the students in America to please billionaires and give some supposedly moderate Democrat credibility to DeVos and make it okay for just enough Senators to vote for her?

        Why, here is Eva Moskowitz happy to do it.

        I’m left with the question as to whether Moskowitz is really a true believer in DeVos’ entire far right agenda or if Moskowitz just sold out American school children because she knew she would personally benefit in the way of grants and donations enriching her charters.

        I don’t know which is worse. It’s a shame that journalists are so lazy that no one has ever asked Moskowitz why she worked so hard endorsing DeVos and demanding Senate confirm her. Did Moskowitz do it out of arrogant ignorance, greed, or is Moskowitz still a true believer who continues to insist that children and parents owe her a huge debt of gratitude for her hard work getting DeVos confirmed?

        I’m guessing Moskowitz would probably say that all children and all parents owe her a huge debt of gratitude for helping to give DeVos lots of power. Moskowitz should certainly get credit for helping DeVos become Secretary of Education. It is clear that DeVos is very, very grateful to Moskowitz for showing DeVos so much loyalty.

        I assume that Moskowitz represents the kind of values that parents at her charters hope their own children will start embracing.

        By the way, Gary Rubinstein has been posting about an interesting podcast about Success Academy that – despite the best efforts of producers to promote Moskowitz’ brand – eventually reveals some of the clear problems with her system that Moskowitz always denies.

        And the fact that Moskowitz prefers to demean and insult and mischaracterize young children as violent than admit she only wants to teach some children is why she and Betsy DeVos are such kindred spirts. Honesty is not valued. “Success” — by any means possible — is.

  3. Chiara says:

    While these education experts met at an exclusive, invitation-only event n NYC to bash public schools, hundreds of public school teachers rallied in North and South Carolina asking for adequate funding for the public schools that hundreds of thousands of kids attend.

    Ask yourself which group works on behalf of public school students. It’s not a difficult question.

  4. NYC public school parent says:

    I thought it was very interesting to see the close parallels between what DeVos said and the viewpoint of DeVos’ biggest fan, Eva Moskowitz, who devoted so much time to helping DeVos get confirmed. It is clear that Moskowitz and DeVos share the same values so I now understand why Moskowitz made it her personal mission to get DeVos confirmed. They are truly kindred spirits.

    DeVos’ gratuitous attack on Renewal schools — remember these are the schools educating some of the most highly disadvantaged students in all of NYC — was laughable but expected. Why wouldn’t DeVos consider it a huge waste of money to provide services like medical care and counselors to kids if it doesn’t turn them into high performing test-takers? She represents those who believe a child is only as good as his test score. And scoring points against the biggest foe of the woman she owes so much to, Eva Moskowitz? I’m sure doing something that pleased her big fan Moskowitz so much was just icing on the cake for DeVos.

    Remember, DeVos is fighting for more charters like Success Academy, where Moskowitz tells parents that if they can’t do all that she expects, this is not the place for their kid. It’s hard for me to understand what DeVos and Moskowitz want to happen to those Renewal School students when high suspending charters tell them to leave, but I imagine that having any concern for low testing highly disadvantaged students is a silly thing to expect from those two kindred spirits. If a charter doesn’t want to teach them, then those children are simply not worthy of concern. Kindred spirits indeed.

  5. Chiara says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world:

    “SC teachers & allies declared a “state of emergency” w/ #School Funding & Education Policy. But one other thing was clear: “they are fed up with the silencing of their voices.” After yesterday, I don’t think that will be a problem anymore.”

    It’s so inconvenient that actual public schools keep getting in the way of Betsy DeVos’ ideological agenda.

  6. I think of her exaggerated, manipulative lies as an act of war and total abuse of power.

  7. She’s clueless, actually stupid.

    • What makes Brainless Betsy dangerous is that she is arrogant and grew up thinking she knows best and the rest of us do not.

      I suspect she has the psycho gene, just like Trump, and inherited it from one or both of her parents.

      Having the MAOA gene does not excuse her behavior. Instead, because of that gene, she should be removed from any positions of importance and isolated from everyone, even her own children if she has any. Her wealth should be taken from her and put into a trust that pays her enough to support her in a modest house.

  8. This is old news, but I see my blockhead, Trump sycophant Senator Todd Young on the list.That he gets this type of money from DeVos’s family is totally disgusting. She has 10 yachts and wants to end all restrictions on money in politics. Money doesn’t buy intelligence and it certainly doesn’t purchase morals or ethics in government.
    DeVos-Backed Groups Spent More Than $38 Million to Elect Three HELP Committee Senators
    The DeVos family has contributed millions of dollars to Super PACs Freedom Partners Action Fund, Senate Leadership Fund, and American Crossroads, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The four groups have spent $38,197,060 since 2014 to help elect Senators Young, Cassidy, and Burr.

    Super PAC Spending in HELP Committee Senators’ Races

    Senator Amount

    Todd Young (R-IN)…$16,750,936
    Bill Cassidy (R-LA)….$4,717,919
    Richard Burr (R-NC)…$16,728,205


    Source: Center for Responsive Politics analysis of FEC filings

    Betsy DeVos Co-Founded an Organization Whose Goal Was “to End All Legal Restrictions on Money in Politics”
    In 1997, Betsy DeVos helped found the James Madison Center for Free Speech and served as a board member. “The non-profit’s sole goal was to end all legal restrictions on money in politics. Its honorary chairman was Senator Mitch McConnell.” (Mayer, Jane. Dark Money. 2016. p. 246)

  9. Brooklynteacher says:

    Having DeVos as their ally won’t be helpful to their cause now that both Houses of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats.

    Not so fast. I heard yesterday from a reliable source that there are legislators trying to tie an increase of the charter cap to passing all the rent law bills. There are still some democrats who have deep pockets. Let’s hope this doesn’t pass but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Other compromises in the budget have already been made.

    • retired teacher says:

      Good point. Hedge fund managers often support DFER. They have very deep pockets with which to buy policies.

  10. Cabinet Member says:

    betsy devos has managed to stay our of the fire as part of the trump cabinet….but most here will have to agree that Trump does not give two shits about education. If Trump cared about education devos would have been gone a long time ago look at his history of treating cabinet members

  11. Devos mode says:

    I am wondering if devos has a conscious bc it appears from viewing her that she does not. Rather Devos appears to have this look of a mind that is literally closed off to outsider comments. This is a woman who can stand there and take the heat but the reality is she does not hear it.

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