Archives for category: Betsy DeVos

Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider have written a valuable new book called A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School. They recently published an opinion article in The New York Times in which they demonstrate the role of Betsy DeVos in the “school reform” movement. They point out that Congress rejected her primary policy goal–sending public funding to private voucher schools–and that the new Biden administration is certain to reverse her assault on civil rights enforcement in education.

Her major accomplishment, they argue, was not one that she aimed for. She managed to disrupt the bipartisan consensus on national education policy, embraced by both the Bush and Obama administrations. That consensus consisted of high-stakes testing and charter schools. Because DeVos advocated for charters and vouchers, many Democrats now view them warily and recognize that school choice was always a conservative policy. DeVos was never a huge supporter of high-stakes standardized testing except to the extent that test scores could be used to harm public schools. Her primary interest was defunding public schools and helping religious schools. Thanks to DeVos, the Democratic party may have fallen out of love with school choice.

They write:

More than three decades ago, conventional Republicans and centrist Democrats signed on to an unwritten treaty. Conservatives agreed to mute their push for private school vouchers, their preference for religious schools and their desire to slash spending on public school systems. In return, Democrats effectively gave up the push for school integration and embraced policies that reined in teachers unions.

Together, led by federal policy elites, Republicans and Democrats espoused the logic of markets in the public sphere, expanding school choice through publicly funded charter schools. Competition, both sides agreed, would strengthen schools. And the introduction of charters, this contingent believed, would empower parents as consumers by even further untethering school enrollment from family residence...

Through her attention-attracting assault on the public education system, Betsy DeVos has actually given the next secretary of education an opportunity — to recommit to public education as a public good, and a cornerstone of our democracy.

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education (NPE), keeps close watch on the federal Charter Schools Program. Two reports by NPE (linked in the article below) have demonstrated that the program, with an annual budget of $440 million, is rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. Nearly 40% of the charters it has funded either never opened or closed soon after opening.

In this article, which appeared in Valerie Strauss’s blog in the Washington Post, Burris describes an unusually ridiculous grant of $1.2 million in federal funds to a soccer club to open a charter school. The federal Charter Schools Program is the single largest source of funding for new charter schools. For the past four years, it has been Betsy DeVos’s personal slush fund, which she has used to undermine and disrupt public schools. The new Biden administration should give serious thought to zeroing out this waste of federal funds.

Burris writes:

In late September 2020, amid the covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education awarded nearly $6 million to five organizations to open new charter schools. One of the five awardees was “The All Football Club, Lancaster Lions Corporation,” located in Lancaster, Pa. The club had no experience running either a private school or a charter school, yet nevertheless pitched the AFCLL Academy Charter School for a grant from the federal Charter School Program (CSP).


The CSP awarded the football club $1,260,750 to be spent within its first five years, even though their submitted application only received 70 of 115 possible points by reviewers — a failing grade of 61 percent. And the club did not have permission from the local school board to actually open the school.


That award of tax dollars to an unauthorized charter school shines a light on how the federal CSP is driven by an ideology with only one aim — to push taxpayer dollars into the hands of would-be private charter operators, even if the school appears doomed to fail from the start.


As the Network for Public Education explained in two recent reports on the CSP program, the application reviewers, who are all connected to charter schools, assign points based on the submitted application alone. Here’s the description of the prospective school’s mission, verbatim:


“The goal of the program was to ultimately to increase the attitudes of inner-city, at risk youth toward post-secondary education; as well as to inculcate values and skills that are necessary for success in a college environment. We are constant communication on the progress of AFCLL Academy and they are valuable resource for AFCLL Academy.”


The application lists the founding team members of the prospective school. In addition to Brian Ombiji, a former professional soccer player and chief executive officer of the city’s soccer club, other members include Dean Kline, a local venture capitalist, and Daniel Perry, the deputy regional director for the for-profit online school K12, Inc.


Kline is the senior manager of Rossier EdVentures. Perry, in addition to working for K12, is described as — again, verbatim from the application — “the Founder and Lead Consultant Daniel Education Group, where they, Provide leadership development and support for new school leaders. consulting for schools and districts in the areas of instructional leadership, assessment, student and staff culture, and special education. Provide consulting for organization in the areas of leadership development, role identification, team development, and strategic planning.”


Reading the entire application and comparing it to how it was rated provides insight into how frivolous the granting of a CSP award of over $1 million can be. Some of the application is nearly incoherent and fraught with grammatical errors, as illustrated above. Other parts appear to be written by a different author who is familiar with education jargon and the state laws that would be relevant to school operations. Raters are not allowed to probe any deeper than the application itself. So as long as an applicant knows the right things to say, it is likely to be approved.


Nevertheless, significant flaws were found by the CSP reviewers, including a lack of letters of support from the community. That lack of documentation is unsurprising. The school is not a community-led effort, which became evident at the Lancaster school board’s hearing to decide whether the charter school should be authorized.


According to a Sept. 1, 2020, local news report of that evening’s meeting, the All Football Club did not bring any letters of support from community groups. Residents, representatives of a local charter school, and the NAACP spoke out against the new charter school.
The Rev. Al Williams, speaking on behalf of the Lancaster NAACP, said his organization doubted that the proposed school would provide equitable opportunity for the city’s students, especially its English language learners. The school district’s attorney asked, “Why not just have an independent soccer club? It almost sounds like this is a soccer club in search of a charter school as opposed to a charter school itself.”


The Football Club did not provide a list of prospective students or a site for the school. Its application projected a deficit of $5 million in five years.


When Ombiji returned to the Board on Oct. 7, he had three letters of support — two from local businesses, whose names he would not share, and one from a parent. And he announced he had gotten the federal CSP grant, although he did not share the amount. The school board was unmoved. On Oct. 20, 2020, the members unanimously voted to decline to authorize the school.


Will that be the end of the AFCLL Academy Charter School and the $1.26 million CSP grant? Not necessarily.
Ombiji can appeal to the state charter board or go to another district with his proposal. Meanwhile, he will likely have access to CSP planning funds. That is because having the approval to open a charter school is not required to turn on the spigot of federal money.


The revelation that millions of federal tax dollars go to charter schools that never educate even one student shocked readers of our Network for Public Education 2019 reports, “Asleep at the Wheel” and “Still Asleep at the Wheel.” In those studies, we provided evidence that between 2006-07 and 2013-14, there were 537 proposed charter schools that never opened received, or were due to receive when data collection ended, a total of $45,546,552 million. In Michigan, for example, those funds were generally in the order of $100,000, with large amounts going into the pockets of the operators and their preferred vendors.


[Report: U.S. government wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools and still fails to adequately monitor grants]
[Report: Federal government wasted millions of dollars on charter schools that never opened]


In the state of Pennsylvania, where the proposed charter school would be located, we identified 41 charter schools that got federal money but never opened for even one day. And yet, the day after the announcement of the grant to the Lancaster Football Club, DeVos gave the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools $30 million to open new charters in the Commonwealth. In 2018, this organization reported that it spent in excess of $74,000 of its income on “government relations” (translate lobbying) — a substantial amount, given that its total income that year was only $457,065.


Thanks to the CSP program, the Pennsylvania Coalition’s half-million dollar-a-year income will be boosted by an additional $3.67 million in the first year of the grant alone. Of that amount, the charter advocacy organization will be allowed to keep approximately $367,000 for administration and technical assistance to charter schools. By the end of the grant period, the administrative/assistance amount will rise to a total of $3 million — a boost in money and power for a charter advocacy organization that defends online charter schools, including those run by for-profit management companies. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s cash-strapped public school districts have begged for relief from the excessive tuition bills they must pay to the online schools.


In the 2020 cycle, other nonprofit charter advocacy organizations received multi-million dollar grants to disburse to prospective charters. Charter advocacy organizations in New Jersey and Nevada got tens of millions each; the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association received a $63,232,945 five-year grant, which means that over $6 million will go to the organization itself.


The ability of private charter advocacy organizations to receive and disburse millions of CSP dollars is a recent change.


Before 2017, only state education departments were eligible for these mega-grants. But due to pro-charter lobbying efforts, the 2015 federal K-12 Every Students Succeeds Act — the successor law to the 2001 No Child Left Behind — increased the total amount that the applicant could retain for services and to allow private charter support organizations to apply for grants.


A consequence of that change is the pressure that state education departments now feel to apply for these grants themselves, even if they have no need or desire to expand charter schools in their states.
Insiders in both the California and Michigan State Education Departments told me they applied for and received CSP grants in order to keep private organizations from obtaining the funds during the year their state was eligible. As one official told me, “At least we can maintain some quality control on charter expansion.”

The accountability hawks have decided that NAEP testing must be canceled this spring because of the pandemic, but the burdensome, useless, meaningless annual testing of every single student from grades 3-8 should not be disrupted. Betsy DeVos proposed canceling NAEP, and the director of the National Center for Education Statistics complied. There will be no NAEP 2021.

This is backwards.

If we want to understand the impact of the coronavirus on American students, NAEP testing should go forward. NAEP—the National Assessment of Educational Progress—has been administered to scientific samples of American students since the late 1960s. Since 1992, it has provided state-by-state comparisons. It disaggregates scores by race, gender, income, English language status, disability status, and other criteria. It measures achievement gaps among whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. It supplies the same valuable information for a score of urban district that volunteer to be tested. No stakes are attached to NAEP results.

In short, NAEP is the ideal gauge for measuring the impact of the coronavirus on students in every state and many cities.

The tests that should be canceled are the state tests mandated by ESSA, which every student in grades 3-8 is required to take. Many students will opt out. The scores rank students on a meaningless axis from advanced, proficient, basic, to below basic, or rank them 1-4. The mandated tests tell teachers nothing worth knowing since they mainly reflect family income and education. They do not tell teachers anything about what students know and understand since teachers are not permitted to see the questions or to know how students answered them. The results of these tests, useless as they are, have high stakes. They will be used to punish or reward students, teachers, and schools.

Yet NAEP will be postponed, and the state tests for individuals will go forward this spring! The meaningful measure will be canceled but the punitive and meaningless measure will be preserved.

Politico reported:

HITTING PAUSE ON THE NATION’S REPORT CARD  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos before Thanksgiving added another item to Congress’ to-do list, calling on lawmakers to postpone upcoming national tests that gauge student achievement in reading and math. DeVos said it would be impractical to conduct the National Assessment of Educational Progress, originally slated for January, during the pandemic because “too few schools will be providing in-school instruction or welcoming outside test administrators this winter to ensure a sufficiently large sample.”

— DeVos said in a letter to congressional leaders that she was halting any further expenditures to prepare for the federal assessments. But she urged Congress to include legislation in any year-end government spending deal to “lift the mandate for 2021 NAEP administration and postpone the administration of NAEP tests until the assessment will be able to produce useful results, likely in 2022.”

— It appears that DeVos’ request has bipartisan support. The Democratic leaders on the congressional education committees, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), said in a joint statement that postponing NAEP was “unfortunate” but also “understandable” given the circumstances. And Sen. Lamar Alexander(R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate education committee, said DeVos made “the right decision” and that Congress should act quickly to provide the one-year delay. “I will work with my colleagues to secure congressional approval of this request in the remaining weeks of the year,” Alexander said.

If NAEP had been administered in 2021, it would have told policy makers precisely what they want to know, at a cost of about $50 million.

If the individual tests are administered, with large numbers of students absent due to the pandemic or opting out in protest, it will provide no useful results but cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Why would DeVos cancel the efficient measure while imposing the pointless measure?

For sure, it’s a win for the test producers but a loss for students, teachers, and common sense.

I recently had the pleasure of reading Kevin Welner’s terrific new Onion-like book, “Potential Grizzlies: Making the Nonsense Bearable.” In tweets, I described Kevin as the Stephen Colbert and Groucho Marx of American education. Kevin and I had fun discussing the book on a Zoom sponsored by the Network for Public Education. (WATCH: Diane Ravitch in Conversation with Kevin Welner). Kevin has pledged all royalties he earns to the Network for Public Education. I hope you will watch, then buy the book, which makes a great holiday gift! To give you a feel for the book, here’s a new piece Kevin just wrote.

Perilous De-DeVos-ing Cleanup Is Underway

The Biden education transition team today assured a worried public that it is carefully following established procedures for the clean-up of the U.S. Department of Education. “The de-DeVos-ing process is indeed grueling, but all necessary precautions are being taken to assure a safe and complete mission,” said spokesperson Darcy Wiggins.

Four years of policy contaminants are reported to have been strewn throughout the Department at a level that sources insist must have been either intentional or extraordinarily reckless. “In the Title IX area alone, we found a spill of transphobia and a release of toxic masculinity all over the sexual assault regulations. That latter one may take years to fully mop up.”

There are also said to be large vats of voucher policies piled up in storage closets, but they haven’t yet broken containment.

Additional dangers, however, remain. According to a member of the transition team we spoke with, an unknown amount of policy contaminants may have been transported a mile northeast, to the chambers of several Supreme Court justices who seem determined to release the policies on the general public at the earliest opportunity.

Here is a photograph of the Biden transition team in the midst of De-Vos-ing contents of the U.S. Department of Education.

Peter Greene describes Betsy DeVos’s vision of education as provided by the marketplace. He calls it “Voucherland.”

DeVos has long argued that she puts students and families over institutions, but that appears to only apply to public institutions. Students who are not straight, not white, not Christian, and not without special needs—and their families—are on their own in a privatized education marketplace.

In the 1960s and 1970s, certain parts of the country responded to integration orders by setting up segregation academies—special private schools that let white folks keep their kids away from “those people’s” children. By setting up segregation academies, local boards could cut school taxes, leaving more money for white folks to pay academy tuition and less for the already-underfunded public schools. This system, in effect, shifted funds from public schools to private ones. 

Not only can wealthy folks—and, in some cases, corporations—fund their favorite private school, but they can help starve the government at the same time.

The modern version of this is the tax credit scholarship programs. In these voucher-like programs, wealthy people can make a charitable contribution to a private school and count it against their tax liability. If they give $10,000, that’s $10,000 less that they must pay in taxes. 

Not only can wealthy folks—and, in some cases, corporations—fund their favorite private school, but they can help starve the government at the same time.

So that’s Betsy DeVos’s vision for a future Voucherland.

For privately owned and operated schools (and particularly for the struggling Catholic school world), Voucherland is a place where they can finally get their hands on piles of taxpayer dollars, with their ability to operate as they wish unhampered by any rules and regulations. 

For parents and students, Voucherland is a government that says, “Here’s your voucher. Good luck, caveat that emptor, and don’t look to us for any help.”

Greene reminds us that Betsy may be retiring to private life, but she will still be funding religious zealots for public office. And we will still have a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives who do not believe in a Wall of Separation between state and church.

While Trump appointees are doing their best to impose their policies before January 20, a federal judge in California told Betsy DeVos in no equivocal terms by a federal judge that she cannot divert CARES money to private schools. The nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools received $13.2 billion in CARES funding, which they were required to share with charter schools and to private schools with low-income students. However, charter schools, religious schools, and private schools also qualified for billions more from the CARES Payroll Protection Program, which excluded public schools. DeVos initially tried to wedge private schools into the public schools’ $13.2 billion fund, even if the private schools had no low-income students. But three federal judges rejected her efforts. Now she is permanently enjoined.

LANSING, Mich — A judge has formally closed the case on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ efforts to rewrite a section of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that would have diverted $16 million in funding away from public schools in Michigan.

The lawsuit against DeVos was co-led by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. On Nov. 9, U.S. District Court Northern District of California Judge James Donato approved a permanent injunction, thus formally closing the case. He then entered a judgement in favor of all plaintiffs.

“This pandemic has greatly impacted students across the country. The CARES Act is imperative as it provides critical funding for our public schools and the resources teachers need to continue safely teaching our youth,” Nessel said. “This permanent injunction sends a clear message that the publicly funded CARES Act dollars should be used as Congress intended – to educate our public students, and not to serve the political agendas of a select few.”

I enjoyed reading Kevin Welner’s new book “Potential Grizzles.” There are many hilarious short pieces about education fads, absurd federal laws, Duncan, DeVos and more.

You will enjoy reading about the innovative Ammocentric Charter School in Arizona. Or the discovery that when the bottom 5% of teachers are fired, another bottom 5% pops up the next year. Or the insight that teachers can be fairly evaluated by their height. Or what happened when a promising student got a growth on her mindset.

Kevin and I discussed the book on a Zoom sponsored by the Network for Public education. We had a lot of laughs thinking about the absurd disconnect between research and policy.

Kevin has pledged any royalties he earns to NPE. I hope you will watch, listen, then buy the book.


The Pastors for Texas Children, great friends of public schools, invited me to come to Texas in April 2020. I was going to speak in Houston, Dallas, and Austin to activists for public schools. The events were organized by Charles Foster Johnson, the remarkable, wise, and tireless leader of PTC. He has launched similar groups in other states, including Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Then came COVID and my trip was scratched and replaced with a Zoom meeting in late October. I had a spirited conversation with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune, a superb interviewer who had read my book Slaying Goliath carefully and asked incisive questions. This is the recording of the Zoom. I come in about minute 15 and the conversation is about 40 minutes.

I prepared for the day by studying up on what’s happening in my native state. Texas right now is ground zero for the hungry charter industry. The state commissioner, Mike Marath, who is not an educator, is gung-ho for more charters.

The public schools, which enroll more than five million students, have been underfunded since at least 2011, when the legislature cut the schools’ budget by more than $5 billion. That funding was never fully restored even though enrollment increased. The majority of the state’s public school students and Hispanic and African American. The majority of the legislators are white men.

Meanwhile, the rightwingers have been pushing for charters and vouchers. The Pastors for Texas Children and other civic groups repeatedly stopped the voucher bill by building a coalition of urban Democrats and rural Republicans. For now, vouchers are dead.

So, the privatizers have thrown their firepower into expanding charters. Betsy DeVos gave the state more than $200 million to open new charters. Texas is overrun with corporate chains. The public schools of Texas outperform charters by test scores. Public school students are better prepared for college than charter students. Charter graduates have lower earnings after they finish their schooling. Why, I wondered, do wealthy Texans continue to fund failure?

I hope you will take the time to watch.


Chalkbeat reports that the privatizers at “Democrats” for Education Reform have identified their candidates for Biden’s Secretary of Education. They are three big-city superintendents who have worked harmoniously with charter schools.

DFER is an organization of hedge fund managers and financiers who are supporters of charter schools, merit pay, high-stakes testing, and value-added evaluation of teachers. In 2008, DFER successfully advocated for the appointment of Arne Duncan, a supporter of their goals.

Democrats for Education Reform is coordinating a behind-the-scenes push for Chicago schools chief Janice Jackson, the head of Baltimore schools Sonja Brookins Santelises, or Philadelphia superintendent William Hite, according to an email sent to supporters Monday by the group’s presidentShavar Jeffries and obtained by Chalkbeat. All three, Jeffries wrote, would represent a “‘big tent’ approach to education policy making….”

DFER was an influential actor in policy during the Obama administration, but those policies have mostly proved ineffective and/or rejected by teachers. In light of Betsy DeVos’ fierce advocacy for charter schools, DFER’s agenda is out-of-step with the Democratic Party.

In general, though, DFER has found some of its favored policies moving further from the Democratic Party’s mainstream. As a presidential candidate, Biden has proposed a slew of new federal restrictions on charter schools and been critical of standardized testing — a clear shift from the Obama administration, which promoted the growth of charter schools and teacher evaluations linked to test scores. 

“It is certainly the Biden plan,” the campaign’s policy director Stef Feldman said at a recent event, describing the candidate’s agenda for schools. “The vice president is pretty committed to the concept that we need to be investing in our public neighborhood schools and we can’t be diverting funding away from them.”

A number of factors have driven the shift within the Democratic party — including disillusionment with Obama-era reforms, the increased political strength of teachers and their unions, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is highly unpopular among Democrats and became a figurehead for school choice.

This shifting ground is reflected in DFER’s recent policy agenda, which was signed onto by a few civil rights groups; the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank; and major charter school organizations, including the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The document emphasizes areas of likely agreement with a Biden administration, including expanding access to early childhood education, increasing federal funding for low-income students and students with disabilities, and raising teacher pay. Charter schools get only a brief mention in a section about “choices in quality public schools.”

The Center for American Progress is not a “progressive” think tank. It has long advocated the Obama-era education policies that align with DFER.


Laurel Demkovich writes here about the election in Washington State for state superintendent. The incumbent Chris Reykdal faces a challenger who supports charter schools and vouchers. The Democratic Party is supporting Reykdal, the Republican Party is supporting his opponent, Maia Espinosa. Washington State has no voucher program; it has a small number of charters, established after four state referenda that were funded by Bill Gates and his billionaire friends. The only evaluation of the charters, by CREDO at Stanford, concluded that they did not get different results than similar students in public schools.

I strongly urge the voters in Washington State to vote for Reykdal.

Demkovich writes:

With less than a week before Election Day, partisan ties in the nonpartisan superintendent of public instruction race have become clear.

Incumbent Chris Reykdal, backed by the state Democratic Party, is facing challenger Maia Espinoza, backed by the state Republican Party, for his spot as the state’s chief schools official.

Worried they might lose control of education policy if Reykdal loses, prominent Democrats, including Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, held a news conference this week to “sound the alarm” on Espinoza’s plans they say would cut funding to public schools.

Jayapal called Espinoza the “Betsy DeVos of Washington” – referring to the Secretary of Education’s support for school choice and voucher programs.

The state Democratic Party has donated $105,000 into Reykdal’s campaign in the last week.

Republicans and Espinoza want to return to the status quo and not upend public schools, state GOP Rep. Drew Stokesbary said in a news conference.

“Why is anybody afraid of a Hispanic mother of three who cares about kids across the state as our superintendent of public instruction?” added state Sen. Mark Schoesler, of Ritzville. “This would be a superintendent of public instruction that is not a slave to the union bosses.”

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party contributed $10,000 to Espinoza in the past week.

Accusations from both sides about the other candidate’s plan and background have circulated throughout the campaign, but what’s true? The Spokesman-Review took a look.

Claim: Espinoza’s plans for a COVID-19 relief package for parents would drain $2.5 billion from public school funds.

Source: Inslee, Jayapal and other Democrats at a Monday news conference.

Truthfulness: Could be true, but Espinoza said she doesn’t have a specific plan for where the money would come from.

Analysis: Democrats claimed Monday that Espinoza would cut public school funding by $2.5 billion. The claim likely comes from Espinoza’s proposal early in the pandemic to give parents $2,500 per student, which she said would help with technology costs or supplies.

Inslee argued Monday the cut would result in a loss of funding of teachers and negatively affect class sizes. “This is inexcusable in our state,” he said.

Espinoza admitted she was not sure where the money for the stipends would come from and that it would ultimately be up to the Legislature. She did suggest school districts look at ways they are not spending money as students are not in school, such as on transportation or utilities.

The funding could look different in each district, she said.

“I firmly believe the dollars belong to the students, not the system,” Espinoza said.

Claim: Espinoza supports school choice and voucher programs.

Source: Inslee, Jayapal and other Democrats at a Monday news conference

Truthfulness: True.

Analysis: Espinoza has been open about supporting school choice, something she said would improve inequities in school districts. She hasn’t been clear, however, on what that would look like.

Democrats accused Espinoza of supporting what Jayapal called a “corrupt and very dangerous DeVos-Trump privatization agenda.”

Espinoza said she has no affiliation with what’s happening federally and does not have any support from DeVos or Trump. She said she does support school choice, however, adding she does not think giving parents options is bad.

She told the Associated Press she supports more funding for charter schools, as well as testing a broader private school voucher system statewide.

“Parents will always choose what is best for their kid,” she told The Spokesman-Review in June.

Claim: Espinoza has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.

Source: Espinoza voters guide statement

Truthfulness: Mostly false, as of now.

Analysis: In her voters guide statement for both the primary and the general elections, Espinoza claimed to have a master’s degree from Western Governors University, an online program. She does not include the year she received it.

Espinoza has recently come out to say she is finishing up the degree now, after Reykdal repeatedly claimed she did not yet have it. In a Monday news conference, Espinoza said the term ends at the end of this month and her thesis has been turned in.

In a Washington State Wire virtual debate on Sept. 17, Espinoza said she had finished all of her classes and only needed to finish her thesis. At the time, she called it a “nonissue.”https://673019f85b97b964fcb917033e0d5c08.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

At a League of Women Voters virtual debate from Oct. 6, Reykdal said he had concerns about Espinoza’s lack of transparency.

Claim: Espinoza’s organization, the Center for Latino Leadership, is a nonprofit with 501©3 tax exemption.

Source: Center for Latino Leadership website

Truthfulness: False.

Analysis: The Center for Latino Leadership, which Espinoza founded, claims on its website to be “an incorporated, nonprofit organization in Washington State operating under section 501©3 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

The organization does not actually have the federal tax-exempt status, according to the Associated Press.

The tax exemption allows public charities that serve the public interest to be exempt from paying federal income tax and to collect tax-deductible contributions from donors. Those organizations are then prohibited from making profits or participating in expressly political activities.

Espinoza told the Associated Press she never claimed donations were tax deductible and that the organization has been trying to apply for 501©3 status for years but had issues with its accounting firm.

“It’s been a process for sure, but we’ve been diligent in operating as a C3,” Espinoza said in an email to the Associated Press.

In a Monday news conference, she told reporters the 501©3 status is just a stricter form of a nonprofit but her organization has always acted as if they have the tax-exemption.

“This has nothing to do with the great work we’ve done,” she said. “In no way have I misrepresented.”

Claim: Espinoza is a teacher.

Source: Espinoza’s voters guide statement.

Truthfulness: Only if you use a broader definition of “teacher.”

Analysis: Espinoza, who states in her voters guide statement that she is a school teacher, is not a licensed teacher, but she did previously teach music at her daughter’s private school one day a week for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

When asked about her teaching experience in an Oct. 12 debate, Espinoza said she was a paid, hourly teacher.

“I really got to experience and appreciate the demands put on teachers,” Espinoza said.


Laurel Demkovich’s reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.