Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UnBEARable:  Reflections on the DeVos Hearing
Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director The Badass Teachers Association (BATs)
I would like to begin this piece with the following:

Shame on you Sen. Alexander for attempting to protect Betsy DeVos, a grossly unqualified candidate, for Secretary of Education.

Shame on you Sen. Alexander for putting politics over the children of this nation.  

Now many would argue that Arne Duncan and John King were no better in this office.  I wholeheartedly agree but…..

Duncan and King did not “buy” their way into this office and BOTH knew that IDEA was a federal law that all states have to follow.   Neither of them, to my knowledge, supported having guns in schools as Betsy Devos did last night, just in case you need to shoot a grizzly bear!  

Perhaps the most disgusting thing to come out of this hearing, other than the testimony of  Betsy DeVos, was the fact that a national grassroots group of parents called The Journey for Justice Alliance bussed over 100 parents from Detroit to attend this hearing.  The parents bussed to DC were, and still are, victims of the DeVos agenda for school privatization. The Network for Public Education reports, “Detroit parents are (were) rightfully outraged that they traveled from Michigan by bus, leaving at midnight to arrive the morning of the hearing, only to be unable to gain entrance to the hearing room. Who did make it into the hearing room? School choice advocates in yellow scarves who replaced line waiters from what appeared to be a paid service to stand in line since 7 am. The folks in the yellow scarves then arrived at 3:30 to take their place in the front of the line.” They were front and center on camera behind DeVos!'  National Director of  The Journey for Justice Alliance Jitu Brown, voiced his opinion clearly and was told he would be arrested in the overflow room. Here are the pictures of that incident and video from the day.  

Here are the charter school folks who did NOT wait in line but paid others to do so.  Notice their yellow scarves.  Meanwhile, Detroit parents, who have been grossly impacted by the DeVos public education agenda, got sent to the overflow room.  



Last night I posted on The Badass Teachers Association closed Facebook page a question for teachers, parents, and supporters - What was your takeaway on the DeVos hearing?  The comments were heartfelt and the incompetence of DeVos did not go unnoticed by people who work with our children each day and parents who work hard to support their children in school.   Here is what they said:  (some comments have been edited due to typos and abbreviations often used on social media platforms.)

She seemed very "confused" about whether schools receiving federal funding should be held equally accountable.
Had no idea the difference between proficiency and growth measures
She did not know IDEA was federal law!
The equal accountability point . . . schools do not need to be equally accountability.
That the only time she had answers is when it relates to charter schools. She was not able to answer anything in reference to public schools.
Someone that does not know the basics of Educational laws like IDEA should not be sec of ed. She does not show a commitment towards providing for the safety and equal rights of all children.
She has no idea how much the DeVos family contributed to political campaigns
She looks forward to working with everyone!
A billionaire can never comprehend a life of poverty. She is completely out of touch with the reality of rural, suburban and urban education experiences of children and the adults who work with children. She has never been a teacher and is not qualified.
She always smiled when she didn't know the answer.
It's all been decided. Alexander even called her Secretary DeVos.
Disappointed in Lamar Alexander. It was obvious that he didn't want people to learn too much about DeVos.
She has not submitted all required paperwork prior to the hearing.
We need a clip of Tim Kaine saying to her "it was a yes or no question" and DeVos just saying over and over in "response" like a computer stuck in an endless loop: "I support accountability."
Tim Kaine to Betsy DeVos: ‘Do you not want to answer my question?’
Didn't want to agree to any of his questions because she wants to take federal funder for her charter schools and do whatever the hell she pleases. She's above the law.
She didn't answer for the disaster she created in Michigan  Not a peep about the DeVos Devastation on Detroit Public Schools!!!
My take away. I spent more than 3 hours in my interview, application, and testing process to be a first grade teacher in the Chicago schools.
Shout out to Senator Warren regarding her complete lack of qualifications to run the student loan programs
What most struck me was her lack of knowledge about proficiency as opposed to growth. It clearly indicated that she has not spent time in schools or had conversation with educators. She claims to have mentored in a school, but that would shock me. She clearly has no intention of protecting special education students.
and wouldn't understand the unique needs of English Language Learners, either.
"IDEA???.....I'm confused."
How to address the "Waste, fraud and abuse" in the charter sector.
I should apparently be more afraid of grizzly bears than I am.
I wonder how often grizzly bears attack schools. </sarcasm>  :D

She didn't want to talk waste in charter schools or oversite.
how the hell do you tell the senator representing Newton, Connecticut that you can't say guns don't have a place in schools! You could see the disbelief on his face

She skirted the questions about political contributions to anti-LGBT groups. She's only ever been in a public school to "mentor". She basically has profited on the backs of public school children for decades, what with shilling her boxed water and her online FOR PROFIT k-12 school that siphons from the public coffers. Disgusting.
She lied about being on her mother’s foundation that has given millions to anti-gay legislation . Here are the 990 returns listing her as VP  - she claims this is a clerical error

I am a teacher educator and doctoral candidate in education who specializes in preparing teachers and administrators to meet the needs of English language learners. I was appalled at Mrs. DeVos's apparent lack of knowledge about IDEA, Title IX, and other current Federal rules and regulations. No school in this country would hire someone as unqualified as her to teach. She demonstrated her complete and total lack of qualifications to serve as Secretary of Education. Further, her demonstrated significant gaps in basic pedagogical and educational knowledge would likely not even allow her admission to most teacher education programs.
Our students spend more time taking standardized tests than she did answering questions
Here's my takeaway-clearly WE are far more knowledgeable than SHE is!
Senator Warren on gainful employment rule: your unwillingness to commit to enforcing law has swindlers and crooks doing backflips as they hear this!
"It's not about your "sensitivity", it's about upholding laws"   Sen. Hassan, the mother of a child with disabilities, exposes the incompetence of DeVos on special education issues.  Here she refuses to answer Sen. Hassan’s questions about protecting children with special needs.

Ok....she just said it.....hopeful to have the conversation to create a system that looks different  than it does today.

When Warren at the end brought up the mass charter association complaints she did not hold charters accountable

I really appreciated when she finally admitted that charter schools are held to a difference accountability level than public and she would NOT agree

Ooooh, what about the part where Sen. Burr thanked her profusely for her willingness to serve because she obviously didn't have to. mean like the thousands of K-12 teachers who willingly serve our schools every day? News flash, we don't have to, either. We made a choice to do so. Oh, and we pay taxes too!

My takeaway is that she knows very little about education because she doesn't need to. The GOP senators on that committee don't know or don't care about all the things she doesn't know. Her lack of knowledge, experience and expertise is not important to them because education is not important to them. That's my takeaway.

The part where she was unwilling to commit to NOT stripping money from public schools.
How is IDEA something states can "choose" to follow? She was definitely committed to being "non committal"

Please mention that many asked for more time, as they had more questions and felt it important that their constituents were able to see and hear this testimony as opposed to written responses to questions posed by Thursday, and were denied.

She would not commit to same accountability for charters as for public schools
She also admitted to never stepping foot into a Detroit public school

"Thank you for that question, Senator." I'm really not sure what I think, but I will look into it. That's not exactly what I said. I have no opinion on that myself but this is probably better decided by the states. I certainly will follow all laws..... after I learn what they are. I have never attended, sent my children to. or worked in a public school. I did not, nor did my children, ever have to borrow money to attend college. Oh. Dear.

She thinks she could get that position without her money because she's passionate and has worked hard. Severely out of touch.

She uses the same rhetorical comments to answer every question. She was given a scripted education , just like they want us to teach. No critical thinking skills, only answers that the people in charge want to hear. They want to do away with the laws to serve students with disabilities and now even DCD students are taking classes that don't meet their individual needs .
You know, I can't tell you how many times a grizzly bear tried to attack my school. #RealTalk #DeVosHearings
It would have been interesting to hear her perspective on previous fed policies and initiatives , i.e. CCSS, RTT, and the details of ESSA. It seems like so much will be new for her, including operations and oversight, that it would take her considerable time to learn to do the job effectively. Being SOE is very different from her previous experience and apparent conviction that all problems in education are solved by choosing the right school.
1. The process was horrible. This was about the public to hear DeVos respond to questions and for Senators to ask questions and follow up questions. 2. Not enough how questions at all. 3. Has no idea about IDEA. 4. Devos does not understand how to enforce federal laws. 5. No Senator asked her about public school infrastructure(estimated costs could be up to a trillion dollars). How is the federal government(which includes Dept of Ed input and possible solution) to pay for this critical need.
My local newspaper wrote that the new Congress will flip Title 1 funds into vouchers
Where to begin? She is a disaster just as I expected. So glad that Bernie came out and asked her about her pay to play move. I feel a mixture of disgust and fear. Afraid for my students with disabilities for whom she did not promise to protect under the IDEA laws and for my high school daughter who will likely need student loans. Disgusted at her corrupt views and her lack of basic knowledge with regards to the simplest education policies. I hope that there is a great pushback against any move she makes.
The committee sees the need for equitable outcomes, meeting the needs of students (including those with disabilities), and local control, and they believe school choice offers a way to do that. Makes you wonder if they ever ask, how can we support public schools in doing that?
Listening to Sen Johnny Isakson of GA...he made a very telling statement...and she agreed...that "faith-based education is the way to go in this country"...and she agreed...
That she was well coached on how to avoid giving answers, which to me means her past actions will be her focus: vouchers, charters, religion in schools, privatization, and the starvation of public schools. She could not cover up her distain for public schools.
My take away-both sides are hearing us! One side tried to debunk the facts we've sent them for almost two months. The other read the articles and links we sent them in a concerted effort against her. It doesn't always fall this way, but damn I was proud of the minority party today!
Every Republican on that Committee should have been cringing watching this train wreck. Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas) certainly was. Let's hope she bucks the party line and votes against this woman who doesn't know a damned thing about education.
Has the word "faith" ever been uttered so dang much in a SOE confirmation hearing? It was disturbing how often it was said, both by her and by the Republicans.
She was invited to Denver to see how "good choice can be when you have accountability" 😝 (but don't mention the fact that the schools have re segregated and the outcomes still aren't all that) and Connecticut to talk to families who have seen first-hand what guns can do in schools.
I appreciated Maggie Hassan telling Devos "it is not about sensitivity" it's about seeing that the rules are followed (referring to IDEA being federal law)...
She is clearly not ready or prepared to uphold the civil rights of our children.
When asked by Senator Sanders if she thought she would even be considered for the post if she wasn't a multi-billionaire, she said yes, she thought she would. I think she's living in an alternate reality.
Lack of knowledge on basic education vocabulary (like the difference between growth and development) and she does not agree to hold charter schools to the same accountability as public schools...accountability is important to her, yet she has not met with Michigan principals.
She attempts to use all the education buzzwords, but does so in a manner that is incorrect or merely just fills the air with noise. She clearly doesn't understand the job, its requirements, or public education at all; nor does she comprehend the laws she would be beholden to and have to support. She is, clearly, an unqualified candidate for the position

To end this piece I have only eight words

Protect our children and our Schools………..Dump DeVos!

An action you can take - Call Lamar Alexander and voice you disgust at how he conducted the hearing.  Demand a second round of questions.  Here is his number.  (202) 224-4944.    Call your federal Senator.  Tell them you will watch how they vote on this nomination and that you want them to vote NO.  You can use the above testimony in your discussion.  Tell them if they vote to confirm her, they will lose your vote and you will actively campaign against them.  Here is a list of federal Senators and members of the HELP Committee.

HELP Committee:  
Lamar Alexander (202) 224-4944
Mike Enzi (202) 224-3424
Richard Burr (202) 224-3154
Johnny Isakson (202) 224-3643
Rand Paul (202) 224-4343
Susan Collins (202) 224-2523
Bill Cassidy (202) 224-5824
Todd Young (202) 224-5623
Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251
Pat Roberts (202) 224-4774
Lisa Murkowski (202) 224-6665
Tim Scott (202) 224-6121
Patty Murray (202) 224-2621
Bernie Sanders (202) 224-5141
Bob Casey (202) 224-6324
Al Franken (202) 224-5641
Michael Bennett (202) 224-5852
Sheldon Whitehouse (202) 224-2921
Tammy Baldwin (202) 224-5653
Chris Murphy (202) 224-4041
Elizabeth Warren (202) 224-4543
Tim Kaine (202) 224-4024
Maggie Hassan (202) 224-3324

1 comment:

  1. What I am wondering is, what exactly did you expect? I mean sure, there are plenty of issues with the democratic party's education polices that BAT has rightly pointed out. Where you went catastrophically wrong is when you pushed that narrative that due to these problems, it was somehow acceptable to "send a message" by voting third party, and in doing so risk a Trump presidency. Many of us tried to warn you beforehand that in doing so there was a nontrivial possibility that you were throwing the most vulnerable to the wolves -- all the most powerless and marginalized, who will be most hurt by the actions and/or inaction of Trump's appointees. What was it about Trump's words, actions, demeanor, associates, history . . . pretty much everything about him, that led you to believe that his administration would be about the same as a Clinton's administration, in terms of education policy? You saw him mock a disabled reporter - you really thought he would give a f&%k about special education? Really? Look at what Tim Kaine just did in the hearing. We could have had HIM as VP. We could have had a President who worked hard to pass IDEA in 1975, and instead, we have a President who is so vile that he thought DeVos was an acceptable Sec. of Education. My disabled child is enrolled in a large, powerful public school district that serves many impoverished families but has a large tax base and a large contingent of affluent families with the money and time to fight to protect special ed in the district. So no, my kid will not be hurt by DeVos. It's the kids with disabilities in rural areas of deep red states, which will fall out of compliance with IDEA and face no consequences, who will suffer. Imagine how hard it is for those kids begin with. Many of them have the deck stacked so high against them, I can barely think about it without becoming paralyzed with despair. All some of these kids have is a few hours a day with a special ed teacher who is really trying to help them. Maybe help them say just a few words, to get just a little bit of a voice, so that they are not swallowed up utterly in darkness. It's these kids who will suffer under DeVos. God d&%mn it, you need to own up to the role you played in this. It's time for a serious reckoning before you lose ALL CREDIBILITY.