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Posts Tagged ‘DeVos’

Betsy DeVos is Technically Wrong but Practically Right: She CAN Control $$$

July 22, 2020 Comments off

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University of South Carolina education professor Derek Black writes that Betsy DeVos has overstepped her constitutional authority by threatening to withholding federal funds from states unless they reopen in the fall. He is technically right… BUT practically wrong…. and Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top (RTTT) provides her with a template and a precedent for doing so. As I trust Dr. Black realizes, Arne Duncan conditioned the release of federal stimulus funds to States on their development of a plan that would effectively require the adoption of a test-based accountability plan that in some way linked teacher evaluations to standardized test scores. Just as there is no scientific basis for sending children back to school during a pandemic without safeguards there was no scientific basis for using tests to “measure” student or teacher performance. That did not stop Congress from giving Arne Duncan broad authority on distribution of huge sums of money for a largely discredited method of accountability. From my perspective by sustaining the test and punish regimen for another eight years Mr. Duncan created as much psychological damage to public schools as remote learning AND by creating a precedent that gave his office the power to condition funding on State policy change he paved the way for Betsy DeVos to do the same thing.., only worse.

Wait! What? Now Online Schools are Bad?

July 18, 2020 Comments off

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For the past three+ years Betsy DeVos and President Trump have championed online learning and worked relentlessly to deregulate both K-12 and post secondary learning to make the expansion of this kind of learning possible. But now that the reopening of schools is a priority, online education has to look like a bad option… and critics of it are noting this ironic turnabout:

“It’s pretty clear that the rhetoric we’re hearing right now is entirely politically motivated because of how inconsistent it is with what the administration has been doing,” said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at New America.

McCann, who also worked at the Obama Education Department, has been critical of the Trump administration’s deregulatory approach to online learning — as have other critics and consumer advocacy groups, who argue that there are too few federal guardrails for quality in the programs.

The takeaway from this is that the POTUS is shamelessly unprincipled when it comes to public schools: he only stands for whatever he believes will make him look good in the eyes of his supporters who, do far, have stayed with him no matter how many times he reverses his thinking. Here’s hoping the lights go on before November.

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Getting a Haircut and Reopening School

July 17, 2020 Comments off

Like many who have quarantined themselves, I allowed my hair to grow at the outset of the pandemic despite the fact that I was due for one in late March. Initially I could not have gotten a haircut even if I wanted one because the salon I go to was closed due to a mandate from the Governor. In mid-May, the salon was allowed to reopen but only if it met certain conditions: customers needed to be six feet apart; the lounge for waiting customers would be closed; customers would have their temperature taken and answer health related questions before entering; every surface in the salon would be thoroughly sanitized; the chairs and surfaces adjoining the chairs where one’s hair was cut needed to be sanitized between customers; and the customers would need to wear masks. The state DID provide the salons with personal protective equipment to use and to offer to customers. Given all the hassles associated with getting my haircut and I decided to wait a few weeks more, assuming the restrictions would lift as the pandemic subsided. Weeks passed and it became clearer and clearer that the pandemic was not going away and clearer and clearer that even though salons were among the more hazardous venues I needed a haircut to shed five months of growth.

When I called for an appointment, the receptionist described their new entry process, asking for my cell phone number so she could text me when there was sufficient space for me to enter the salon. She also described the protocols for customers noting that if I had a temperature or any COVID symptoms I would be turned away. When I entered the salon, it was noticeably austere. The comfortable chairs and welcoming cup of coffee and tray of cookies were gone as were roughly half of the customers. The person who regularly cuts my hair was upbeat and cheerful and I left with a haircut that could last another five months if need be, but it was not the same atmosphere as usual.

I am describing this to offer a comparison to the reopening of a salon to the pending reopening of schools. Unlike the salons, the school openings in New Hampshire are governed by “guidelines” that are locally determined as opposed to strict mandates that are enforced. Unlike the salons, schools are not being provided with PPEs for staff or “customers” and, unlike salons, there is no mandate for limiting the number of people in a confined space or taking the temperatures of those who enter.

Instead of issuing enforceable regulations like he did for salons and restaurants and other businesses that require close contact between people, Governor Sununu has offered “guidance” for the reopening of schools. This is not an accident… for if the state issued a mandate to schools they would have to provide the resources for them to implement that mandate. Better to allow “local control” than to provide the safeguards teachers, students, and parents need for a safe reopening of schools. Live Free or Die was never a more apt slogan for NH.

Watch across the country as schools reopen… I daresay that there will be few regulations put in place and few decisions that are made in Statehouses: the decisions will all be shoved down to the lowest level possible in an effort to avoid funding state-imposed or federally imposed mandates.