Nancy Bailey just keeps getting better and better as she points her pen and her blog at malfeasance in education.

In this post, she points to the recent landmark decision that recognized that the children of Detroit have a right to literacy, a right not previously acknowledged by any court (or overturned on appeal). The court quite correctly decided that young people cannot exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens if they can’t read.

What is DeVos’s role in the Detroit debacle? She has spent large sums of money to promote the false idea that the way to improve education is to expand school choice. Detroit is her handiwork, and it proves the failure of school choice. What she purchased was widespread inequity and inadequacy.

Open the link to read the full article and see the links to other sources.

Bailey writes:

The Detroit landmark decision that children deserve to learn to read in school is a case that reflects decades of troubled education in Detroit. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and school privatization are not mentioned in this case. But school privatization initiatives have been failing children in the Motor City for years. DeVos is the current face of a long line of those peddling such reforms.

Harmful school reform initiatives go back to Gov. John Engler’s administration. Many school reformers, both Republican and Democrat, have their fingerprints on the crime scene. The DeVos family is from Michigan and has affected Detroit and school reform there for years.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Detroit students who claim they were denied their rights to a “basic minimum education.” Called the “Right to Read” lawsuit, Gary B. v. Whitmer exposes the decrepit conditions found in schools run by State leaders who failed to support Detroit’s students. The case was originally filed under former Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

It’s critical to recognize DeVos’s connection to the Detroit school failures. During this pandemic she is flagrantly redirecting public money to the same privatization agenda. It puts democratic public schools in jeopardy, like schools were put at risk in Detroit. Here’s a petition you can sign now to try and stop her.

School privatization cheerleaders have for years promoted the idea that choice will equalize education by giving parents choices. They’ve pushed for online charter schools and school turnarounds that get tough on teachers and students of color. Choice failed in Detroit.


Schools had no literacy programs.

The case describes what good reading instruction should consist of in school. Sometimes it appears to be delving into the Reading Wars, emphasizing the loss of explicit phonics.

The trouble is, one can’t get to a debate over how students learn to read, without overcoming the fact that students have untrained teachers and an atrocious learning environment.

It’s troubling to think the case might result in only professional development and a push for unproven programs, even online reading programs, that don’t address the need for creating quality schools, professional teachers, and more individualized attention for the children of Detroit.

School Buildings

Poor school conditions have been a part of Detroit’s schools for years. Students struggle to learn in slum-like conditions, no air-conditioning in the summer, freezing temperatures in the winter. Who can forget these pictures from 2016, the year the case was filed?

Vermin, mold, and contaminated drinking water plague the schools. Bullets, dead vermin, condoms, and sex toys have been found on the playground. Fire safety equipment and fire regulations are missing.

Betsy DeVos’s mantra is that education is about students and not buildings. She has done nothing to improve the condition of schools in Detroit or around the country.

Lacking Resources

Teaching resources were deficient. The case describes classrooms without enough textbooks, and old books that haven’t been updated in years.

The only school library mentioned had no librarian and was locked!