Home > Uncategorized > DeVos Visits Private, Sectarian, and For-Profit Schools While Spewing Misinformation, Invective Toward “Government Schools”

DeVos Visits Private, Sectarian, and For-Profit Schools While Spewing Misinformation, Invective Toward “Government Schools”

May 20, 2018

Several decades ago I took a time management course that indicated that the priorities of school leaders could be determined by looking at how and where they spent their time. In shorthand, actions speak louder than words. Looking at Betsy DeVos calendar during recent visits to several NE states it is abundantly clear that she favors sectarian and for-profit schools over “government schools” and favors the spreading of malicious misinformation about how those schools operate and who they serve.

An Alternet article by David Badas who is writing on the “new civil rights movement” for that magazine, reports on who Ms. DeVos did and did not visit during the two days visit to NYC:

Betsy DeVos has concluded her two-day visit to New York City, during which she refused to visit a single public school, although she did attend two private, Orthodox Jewish religious schools. The Education Secretary also delivered remarks at a Catholic organization’s breakfast meeting, and blasted bans on the use of taxpayer funds for private religious schools.

1.1 million students in New York City get their education in 1800 public schools – the largest school system in America. DeVos did not step foot in any of them.

Worse, from my perspective, her speeches were full of disinformation on the performance of public schools and the openness and willingness of sectarian and for-profit schools to open their doors to anyone who applies. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, was among those who heard a speech given by Ms. DeVos at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Alfred E. Smith Foundation.

“I know that those sycophants of ‘the system’ have kept legislators here from enacting a common-sense program that would open options to thousands of kids in need,” she said, referring to bans on the use of taxpayer funds for private, religious schools. “Catholic education aims to serve the whole community — especially ‘the least of these.’ It aims to promote individual student achievement while developing the whole person…body, mind and soul,” she said. “Those are goals we share.”

Unfortunately neither the press reporting on this nor Cardinal Dolan corrected Ms. DeVos by noting that Catholic schools routinely deny acceptance to underprivileged children who cannot afford to pay the tuition and also compel students with special needs and “behavior problems” to leave. The public schools, meanwhile, DO work with “the least of these” and do so without relying on Biblical teachings. And the press continually reports that states’ refusal to fund sectarian schools is based on the Constitution, which envisioned a bright line between church and state. As Mr. Badas notes, Ms. DeVos, like her GOP supporters and the “reformers” have expropriated the language of civil rights leaders during the 60s to advance their cause and muddy the argument for providing more money to schools overseen by publicly elected school boards.

One of the biggest challenges the media face today is documenting misinformation and disinformation spewed by Ms. DeVos, the POTUS, and all of the leaders in the GOP, none of whom have spoken up on behalf of public education or the constitutional requirement that public funds cannot be used to promote religion. If Ms. DeVos were the only cabinet member charging around the country spewing false information it might be possible to push back… but since the volume of misinformation is huge, it’s left to publications like Alternet and bloggers to make certain the record is being set straight.

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