Archives for category: Vouchers

 

 

In one of the closest elections in the country, Governor Pat McCrory conceded at last to State Attorney General Roy Cooper in the race for governor.

 

McCrory came to office as the formerly moderate mayor of Charlotte. Once in office, he joined the far-right wing Tea Party majority in the General Assembly to pass legislation for charters and vouchers, to eliminate the respected North Carolina Teaching Fellows program (which required a five-year education commitment and produced career teachers) and replaced it with a $6 million grant to Teach for America, and enacted law after law to reduce the status of the teaching profession.

 

To understand the damage that McCrory and his cronies did to the state read this summary of five years of political wrecking imposed on the state.

Nevada’s legislature enacted the most sweeping voucher legislation in the nation. The state courts have affirmed its constitutionality, although last September the Supreme Court of Nevada struck down the funding portion of the voucher program. Meanwhile, the state continues to send out applications for “education savings accounts” as though the latest ruling from the highest court never happened.

 

It was an odd ruling. Figure out the logic here:

 

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the state’s education savings account law, ruling that while the premise of using taxpayer money for private education was constitutional, the method used to fund the ESA program was not.

 

The high court ordered a permanent injunction against the law — viewed as the most sweeping school choice legislation in the country — that was passed last year on a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

 

What is especially odd about the ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court is that the state constitution of Nevada has clear, explicit prohibitions against spending public money on sectarian (religious) schools:

 

Article 11 of the state constitution includes this language:

 

Sec: 9.  Sectarian instruction prohibited in common schools and university. No sectarian instruction shall be imparted or tolerated in any school or University that may be established under this Constitution.

 

Section Ten.  No public money to be used for sectarian purposes. No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.

 

Could it be any clearer? No public money to be used for sectarian purposes. No public funds of any kind or character whatever, State, County or Municipal, shall be used for sectarian purpose.

 

What part of this does the Nevada legislature and voucher advocates not understand?

 

As it happened, Democrats recaptured control of both houses of the legislature last month, with slim majorities. They have a chance to defund the ESA program altogether, if they have the will.

 

Nevada still has a Republican governor who wants to keep vouchers alive. The ACLU of Nevada is challenging the state for continuing to invite applicants for a program that has been enjoined by the state Supreme Court.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has taken issue with the state treasurer’s office for continuing to accept Education Savings Account applications, two months after the Supreme Court had struck down the funding part of the program.

 

The ACLU argues that the treasurer’s office shouldn’t be accepting new applications on its website for a program that was found unconstitutional.

 

“I think it’s particularly misleading to parents to ask them to sign up for a program that isn’t funded and can’t be funded,” said ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Amy Rose.

 

The ruling further divided both sides in the debate over the school-choice law, which creates state-funded savings accounts for parents who seek education outside of the public school system.

 

A group that supports public education called Educate Nevada Now declared that the legal ruling against “Education Savings Accounts” made it possible to address the real needs of children in the state’s schools.

 

An Education Savings Account (ESA) is a voucher that diverts taxpayer money constitutionally allocated for public schools to private schools. The voucher program threatened to strip away nearly $40 million from Nevada public schools. The same funds could be better served if they were allocated to fund Pre-K, Special Education, ELL, and the many programs that are currently underfunded.

 

Educate Nevada Now wrote:
On November 18, 2016, Judge James Wilson of the Eighth Judicial District Court issued an order ending Lopez v. Schwartz, the case that challenged Nevada’s controversial Education Savings Account (ESA) voucher program. Judge Wilson entered a permanent injunction halting the program based on the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling declaring the ESA funding scheme unconstitutional.

In its ruling, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed Judge Wilson’s earlier decision, finding the voucher program “violates Article 4, Section 19 and Article 11, Sections 2 and 6 of the Nevada Constitution…” These are the sections of Nevada’s Education Article that expressly prohibit the use of public school dollars for other purposes – including vouchers for private education.
A little over a year ago, a group of courageous parents from across the state took a stand in court against ESA vouchers. They were concerned that millions of dollars would be diverted from the public schools to pay for private schools and other private education expenditures. With many public schools woefully underfunded, the voucher bill meant Nevada’s nearly 440,000 public school children would face further cuts to the critical programs, staff, and services they need to succeed in school.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on September 29, 2016, and Judge Wilson’s order permanently blocking the voucher law put an end to the ESA voucher program. The law in our state is now clear: funds appropriated by the State Legislature for public education can only be used for one purpose – funding our public schools.
It’s time now to renew the effort to strengthen Nevada’s public schools. Yet voucher proponents are still trying to find a way to resurrect the failed ESA program. They are asking legislators to find $40 million in the state budget to subsidize private school tuition for children in families that previously signed up for vouchers, even though most of those children already attend private schools, and their families can afford the tuition without a government subsidy.
Nevada faces a $400 million dollar budget deficit going into the 2017 Legislative Session. Our state consistently ranks near the bottom of the nation on measures of educational success. For example, Nevada offers very limited access to high quality preschool, a research-proven program to boost academic progress. The state’s school funding system ranks at or near the bottom in funding fairness, according to an annual report released by the Education Law Center.
We are now at a crossroads. We simply can’t afford to spend scarce education dollars on subsidizing private education for a handful of students. Instead, we need to join together to lift up all students. This starts with a serious investment in public education to fund urgently needed initiatives, especially in those schools serving high numbers of at-risk students.

 

During this Legislative Session, let’s do the right thing for all Nevada children and make sure our neighborhood schools have what they need to provide every student with the opportunity to succeed.

 

A voucher by any other name is just as bad for the vast majority of kids who attend public schools

Something amazing happened in Nevada in the 2016 election. Democrats won control of both houses of the legislature. There is still a Republican governor.

 

Angie Sullivan is a second-grade teacher in Nevada who often writes letters to legislators and journalists, to keep them grounded in the reality of the classroom. Nevada has what is very likely the worst performing charter sector in the nation; most of the state’s lowest performing schools are charter schools. It also has a voucher program with no income limits, that is utilized by affluent families to underwrite private school tuition. It is starting an “achievement school district,” modeled on the one that failed in Tennessee and the one that voters in Georgia just rejected, where state officials may take over public schools with low scores and hand them over to charter operators.

Here is Angie with her good-sense newsletter:

Read this:

http://m.reviewjournal.com/opinion/lawmakers-must-work-together-fund-schools

Educators have been forced to become issue based in our state. We can no longer afford to depend wholly on either party. We have to get things done and work with any ally.

We have to get things done.

We will not get everything we want but we have to make headway.

Last session I was proud of the leadership in my state.

Teachers are used to compromise – we do it everyday to make headway for kids. Please be willing to do the same again this session.

These are my asks.

_______________

First Ask: A real teacher in every classroom –

In the recent past, politicians, administrators and businessmen have scape-goated Nevada’s education problems onto those working directly with students – the teachers.

This has lead to unfunded mandates, witch-hunt type behavior, firing professionals, and driving off good teachers in our state. This never made sense – since the classroom teacher is directed by many others and very little is in our control at any level. My day is outlined and many classrooms are micromanaged to the point of damaging students. And the supplies are very limited. Teachers were blamed none-the-less.

These attacks on professional teachers occurred on both sides of the aisle.

Less productive.

We are the front line. We never were the enemy.

Now we have at-risk schools filled with under-prepared people struggling to become an educator. It is the poor, the disenfranchised, and the needy who do not have a teacher for several years in a row. If a child has an IEP and a special education need, they probably do not have a prepared professional to implement the plan.

This is reform?

We need to step back from attacks on collective bargaining, whittling teacher due process, and proclamations that skilled teachers are the problem. Filling our schools with temporary labor is damaging a generation of students – mainly students of color.

Spending all our time looking for the “lemon” instead of retaining the “good guys” is costly in more ways than one.

_______________________

Second Ask: Stop funding scams and craziness.

In an effort to produce quick results, Nevada grabs ideas from other states. These ideas have not proven themselves and flaunt questionable research. None have proven effective with populations as diverse as ours. These Nevada legislative ideas are failing on epic levels and need to be cleaned up.

– Charters are a disaster in Nevada. The amount of fraud, embezzlement, and criminal type behavior occurring in Nevada’s charters is astounding. The bipartisan legislature who supported and implemented reform by charter needs to put some teeth into laws to clean this mess up. I’m adding up the cost and it is millions and millions.

– Read-by-Three which is grant based will fund programs in the north. 75% of the students in need are in the south but the way the language was built – only a drizzle of funding will help students who are most likely to be punished by this legislation in Vegas. Again Nevada demands rigor without giving students and teachers resources to get the job done. Punishing 8 year olds without giving them adequate opportunity is a violation of civil rights. Read-by-Three has only been successful in states willing to fully fund early intervention. And that costs a significant amount of money. States which implement Read-By-Three as Nevada is doing without funding – fail miserably. This is not tough love – it is a crime.

-ASD [Achievement School District] is scary. Due to our lack of per pupil funding, Nevada cannot attract viable charter operators. We spent $10 million on a harbor master, Allison Serafin, to attract charters to Nevada. What a waste. We will now replace 6 failing public schools with charters who have failed elsewhere. To be watched over by the same system that allows the charter systems in Nevada to fail on an epic level already. Just how much are we spending on the Charter Authority and other groups responsible for overseeing charters? Do we continue to ask public schools to be accountable while ignoring the atrocious failure of charters? And we force charters on communities of color with the ASD – in the name of school choice. Force is not choice.

– ESA [Education Savings Accounts–or vouchers] is scary. A treasurer will determine education curriculum and spot check for fraud. Parents will “police themselves”. Blank checks will be given to mainly white affluent parents to take wherever they like or allow children to lay on the couch. And those checks will go to 8,000 applicants in the amount of $40 million in tax payer money. While lack of regulation sounds like a great idea, in Nevada education it leads to waste and fraud. This is a nightmare of waste ready to happen.

We have little money for real research based best practice but have spent millions on unproven and failing reform.

Ten years of reform and limited gains. Some reform may have damaged a generator. Of learners. Time for a return to the steady growth produced by funding best practice. It’s not fancy or flashy but it works.

____________________

Third Ask: Funding Fairness.

The Southern Caucus needs to advocate for our children.

In a bipartisan manner, the southern caucus needs to work and make progress for our children. Teachers and students need our legislators to do the heavy lift for the kids in our area. Frankly we need money.

The south generates most of the revenue for the state. 80% of the DSA (Distributive Schools Account) is funding put there from Clark County.

Clark County receives 50% in return. This is the antiquated Nevada Plan.

Also the south does not have access to mining proceeds which many rural communities can also tap for school funds.

I am not advocating a grab from other schools. I am advocating for restructuring that is fair to all students wherever they reside.

The south serves students who traditionally need more financial support to be successful.

CCSD [Clark County School District: Las Vegas] has huge numbers of children in poverty.

Our students cannot continue to endure class sizes of 40 plus.

We cannot continue to ignore early intervention so vital to future success.

We have to continue to fund and expand Victory and ZOOM schools.

CCSD was considering an ELL plan which is necessary. The cost would be $1 billion to fund at a level appropriate for our learners in Clark County.

We cannot continue to train educators who leave for greener pastures. We need committed and permanent educators to see a return in teacher development investment. We need to invest in teacher pipelines and retention of excellent and fully qualified professionals. We also need teachers who reflect the faces we see in our community. It is very expensive to endure teacher churn as skilled labor looks for a better deal.

__________________________

Final Ask:

Listen up both sides of the aisle . . .

Everything costs.

Unfunded mandates that may be easily implemented in a tiny rural district, can cost multiple millions to implement in CCSD with 380,000 students and 36,000 educators.

That great idea a random legislator has – needs to have a price tag on it. Just one thing – can rob a classroom of supplies. A great idea – can mean my students do not have books. The pot is limited. The budget is already stretched thin. We have to prioritize and necessities need to come first.

We cannot continue to do more with less.

Unfunded mandates are killing public schools. Do not send that idea without cash.

Just don’t do it.

I’m looking at everyone here because I have seen it non-stop. Most returning law makers are guilty.

If we are running at a deficit of $300-$400 million, please know unfunded mandates will rob from another need.

If there is zero money. There is zero money. No money – no reform. No money – no new ideas. No money – no change. It is not that different from a budget at your house. It is not that we do not want things, we just cannot afford it right now.

Whipping teachers like we are going to row faster on a Viking ship – just leaves us too whipped to teach.

Unfunded mandates are usually implemented by teachers from our own pockets – we pull from our personal bank accounts, our families, and our time to implement that great idea. Many unfunded mandates are half implemented and just waste time and money because they are impossible. It is a burden.

Ideas cost money.

____________

Listen to me.

I am without guile.

My hands are clean as I work to teach seven year olds to read.

These are my asks.

I have spent a lifetime educating children. I am from Nevada where we used to fund near the top and achieve results near the top too. I have watched my state’s educational success plummet as our per pupil spending has declined. That is a fact proven with real data.

Educating students costs.

Competition has not and will not improve Nevada’s system.

Tough love, fads and gimmicks are draining precious resources.

Teachers will fail if we do not have what we need to do the job.

Some things are more important than winning and losing a political game.

Please work together for kids this session in a well thought out way that makes progress.

You expect a lot from teachers.

Teachers need resources spent the right way to make progress.

Mercedes Schneider turns her well-honed investigative talents to exploring the history and funding of Campbell Brown’s website, The 74.

 

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has given generously to The 74. Brown sits on the board of DeVos’s American Federation for Children, which advocates for vouchers. Both share an interest in attacking teachers’ unions, teacher tenure, and public schools. DeVos gave Brown’s 74 a gift of $2.4 million in 2014. A token of friendship, I suppose. That’s what friends are for. We should all have friends like that.

 

Mercedes has done a phenomenal job of analyzing the tax records of The 74 to decipher its funders and its evolution.

 

Much information remains undisclosed. She urges its disclosure.

Okay, you know that Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education, is  a billionaire. You know that she wants vouchers. You know that her organization, the American Federation for Children, cheers every victory for school choice as a defeat for public schools.

 

But there is more to know about this activist and funder of the religious right.

 

Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy wrote an article about five things you should know about Betsy DeVos.

 

There is a real question about her fitness to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in light of her belief in privatization of education. Most of America’s students go to public schools. There have been many state referenda on vouchers, and they have been turned down every time, by large margins. (See Utah results in 2007 here, where vouchers were defeated by 62-38%. In Florida, despite the support of Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee, a voucher measure (called the Religious Freedom Amendment, went down to defeat by 55-45%). She and her husband financed a referendum on vouchers in Michigan in 2000, and it was rejected 69-31%.

 

As Secretary of Education, working with a sympathetic Congress, she might do serious damage to the nation’s public schools. We can’t let that happen. Join the Network for Public Education’s campaign to send emails to senators opposing her nomination.

Politico describes a meeting of wealthy Christians where Betsy and Dick DeVos explained the religious motivation behind their dedication to school vouchers. 

 

 

The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.”

 

Trump’s pick, Betsy DeVos, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.
Her comments came during a 2001 meeting of “The Gathering,” an annual conference of some of the country’s wealthiest Christians. DeVos and her husband, Dick, were interviewed a year after voters rejected a Michigan ballot initiative to change the state’s constitution to allow public money to be spent on private and religious schools, which the DeVoses had backed.

 

In the interview, an audio recording, which was obtained by POLITICO, the couple is candid about how their Christian faith drives their efforts to reform American education.

 

School choice, they say, leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” The two also lament that public schools have “displaced” the Church as the center of communities, and they cite school choice as a way to reverse that troubling trend.

 

The audio from the private gathering, though 15 years old, offers a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of DeVos’ personal views — views that may guide her decision-making as the nation’s top education official. DeVos has repeatedly said she wants policies that give families choices about their children’s education — the choice of public schools included — but her critics fear that her goal is to shift public funding from already beleaguered traditional public schools to private and religious schools.

 

Remember the idea of separation of church and state, which Thomas Jefferson championed? The DeVos family does not accept that principle.

 

 

 

Russ Walsh blogs about literacy and learning. In this post, he recalls that his grandmother used to call him and her other grandchildren out whenever they did something boneheaded by saying, “Heavens to Betsy!”

Russ calls Betsy DeVos out for her zealous support of vouchers, despite experience and research.

DeVos is a “reformer” as Arne Duncan was a “reformer.” Her ideas have no grounding in reality, but she won’t let them go.

DeVos is the ultimate privatizer of education. Not satisfied with using quasi-public charter schools as a way to drain resources from actual public schools, DeVos goes Full Monty on vouchers. She wants to eliminate public education entirely by giving every child a government check to go find the private school or religious school of choice. It is, of course, “the civil rights issue of our time.” I have cataloged the danger and false promises of vouchers in this post from a few years ago. It is important to note that the heavily education reform-minded Obama administration rejected vouchers as a solution because it drained public dollars from public schools that were already strapped for resources and because vouchers did not work.

Bottom line: Why push an idea that doesn’t work? Milwaukee has had vouchers 25 years. Milwaukee is one of the lowest performing cities tested by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Russ urges us to resist. I join him. Get involved. Speak out. Talk to your elected representatives. Get Republicans to understand that what she proposes to do will be costly and wasteful and ineffective.

Edd Doerr is the president of Americans for Religious Liberty and a strong proponent of separation of church and state. In this paper, he gives a brief overview of the history of this infra, explains why vouchers are a very bad idea, and reviews the 27 state referenda on vouchers or variant on public funds for religious schools.

 

Since his paper was written in 2012, a proposal to amend the Florida state constitution to permit vouchers (called the Religious Freedom Amendment) was defeated in 2012 by 55-45%, despite a vigorous campaign by Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee on its behalf, and despite the deceptive tactic of asking voters whether they support “religious freedom.” This past election, voters in Oklahoma rejected a constitutional amendment that would “have stripped the provision in the state constitution that prevents public money or property from being used to support religion and religious institutions.”

 

Wherever vouchers exist, they have been authorized by state legislatures, never by voters. State legislatures are influenced by political contributions and are easier to manipulate than voters, as Dick and Betsy DeVos learned when their own state voucher proposal in Michigan went down to defeat in 2000.

 

In Doerr’s paper, he shows how voucher advocates ignore the Founding Fathers’ conviction about religious liberty. He cites Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia legislation called “A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.”*

 

Doerr quotes a section of the bill:

 

This Act ended legal compulsion to attend church services and barred tax support for religious institutions. It provide that “no man . . . shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or beliefs, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”

 

Doerr goes on to write:

 

While the Constitution drafted in 1787 did not grant the federal government power to deal with religion in any way, it proscribed religious tests for public office, and provided for an affirmation instead of an oath of office. The absence of a specific religious freedom guarantee bothered Jefferson and others. Six states ratified the Constitution but insisted on a religious freedom amendment. Rhode Island and North Carolina declined to ratify it until a bill of rights was adopted. Shortly after his election to the House of Representatives Madison introduced a compilation of proposals for a bill of rights to be added. Several versions of a religious liberty provision were considered before the following wording of what is now the First Amendment was adopted: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

 

President Jefferson, in a carefully thought-out 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, declared that these words built a “wall of separation between church and state.” Supporters of church-state separation hold that the “no establishment” clause was noted by the Supreme Court as early as 1878, but was best and most succinctly interpreted by the Supreme Court in the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education ruling. The Court stated:

 

“The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and state’.”

 

So bear in mind as Trump and DeVos and others promote vouchers that would divert money from public schools to religious schools, they are at war not only with voters but with the Founding Fathers.

 

*Doerr cites the wrong date for passage of the bill in Virginia, which was 1779, not 1786.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politico reports on vouchers this morning. Vouchers have never won a popular vote. Public opinion polls are mixed, but the response depends on how the question is worded. DeVos and her allies have found her way around the problem: go to the legislature and give strategically to key legislators. In other words, buy their support. It works.

 

VOUCHERS HAVE BEEN A TOUGH SELL – AT LEAST WHEN PUT TO A VOTE: President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to create a massive $20 billion block grant to expand charter and private school options for poor children. But when voters in states across the country have been asked if they want to send public money to private schools through vouchers, they’ve pretty much always said no, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Since 1978, voters in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Utah and Washington all rejected measures to enact private school choice programs. And the ballot referendums lost big – none of them drew support from more than 38 percent of voters. Voters in Florida and Oklahoma, in 2012 and 2016, shot down efforts to repeal so-called Blaine Amendments – which prohibit states from spending public money on religious schools and can limit a state’s ability to fund private school choice programs. [ED. NOTE: VOTERS HAVE NEVER APPROVED A REFERENDUM TO PERMIT PUBLIC MONEY TO BE SPENT IN NONPUBLIC OR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS. THE DEVOS FAMILY SPONSORED A VOUCHER VOTE IN MICHIGAN IN 2000, AND IT WAS DEFEATED 69-31%.]

 

– Public polling, however, has been mixed on vouchers, with support levels ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent, said Josh Cunningham, a senior education policy specialist at the National Council of State Legislatures. “It’s probably fair to say that much of the public does not fully understand what school vouchers are,” Cunningham told Morning Education. “If anything, this history shows that going through the legislature may be an easier road towards adopting school choice policies than using the ballot.” Thanks to state lawmakers, there are 17 states (as well as D.C.) that have voucher programs, according to the council.

 

– The legislature is the route that Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the Education Department, has taken repeatedly over the years. DeVos, through her groups, including the American Federation for Children and All Children Matter, has pushed voucher measures – successfully – through statehouses across the country, including in Indiana in 2011. DeVos told the Philanthropy Roundtable last year that “successful advocacy requires coordinating a lot of moving parts: identifying potential legislators, educating them about the issue, getting them elected, helping them craft and pass legislation, and helping with implementation once laws are passed to ensure that programs work for children.” Showering lawmakers with money also helps – and DeVos’ groups have spent millions on candidates who support vouchers. DeVos has been blunt about the power that donations have in politics. In 1997, she wrote in Roll Call that “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return.”

Julie Vassilatos, an activist parent of children in the Chicago public schools, writes here about Betsy DeVos.

She begins by offering a round up of some of the best posts about DeVos. We all must get up to speed on who she is.

In addition to being a fervent advocate for vouchers and charters, she has given generously to anti-gay organizations and organizations that promote creationism. I am trying to imagine what the U.S. Department of Education will do under her leadership backwards.

Julie points out that Arne Duncan paved the way for DeVos. Duncan and his Department made school choice a priority, leaving an opening for the next step, which is vouchers.

She would not have been able to accomplish what she did in Michigan without the federal government’s encouragement of privatization efforts for the past 8 years. She would not now be poised to bring full privatization to the nation if the field had not been tilled for this for the past 8 years. Duncan’s Department of Ed absolutely created the conditions for Betsy DeVos. She may be different in emphasis, but not in kind from Arne Duncan. She touts charters, choice, and competition; Duncan’s Department of Ed touted charters, choice, and competition. She likes vouchers; the Department of Ed never definitively closed the door on vouchers. She has given millions to unregulated charters; so did the Department of Ed. Federal visa policy and the New Market Tax Credit created the conditions to make charters very big–global–business.

All that was settled years ago. Now corporate ed control is poised to succeed in a totalizing way; all that was needed was a billionaire secretary of education who knows absolutely nothing about public education, is purely ideology-driven, and is well-practiced at controlling legislators with her cash.

Don’t fool yourselves–DeVos isn’t the sudden end of the world for public education, like a bomb being dropped. She’s more like the result of a slow-traveling virus or a zombie invasion. Our schools have been in peril for years. Now I think we will be able to see it more clearly. It’s time to get to work.

You can start here, by signing your name to the Network for Public Education’s letter to legislators insisting they not confirm her.