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betsy-devos

Betsy DeVos confirmed.

It’s a loss and I think it’s pretty clear that McConnell gave permission to Murkowski and Collins to vote no while knowing that he wouldn’t lose anyone else in the caucus. But it’s an expected loss and it has severely discredited her and the fascist administration that she represents so well. What we need to do is to keep up the pressure on all the remaining nominees, especially that of Nathan Bedford Forrest for Attorney General, while also continuing to publicize and embarrass the administration on the policies coming out of these clown-run departments. I also think this helps to define the fight on public education. Whereas Obama was woefully terrible on public education, his worst policy position by far, Democrats can now stand up with full-throated support for public schools. Congressman Mark Takano has taken a leadership position on this issue and his program is excellent. I would watch people like Cory Booker on this. Booker of course has also been horrible on this issue. If he switches from that, it’s a sign of the pressure working. The Washington consensus on education is dead. Let Republicans own the disaster to follow. Attack, attack, attack. And support good public schools.

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  • Nobdy

    I think you may have typoed.

    Did you mean to say “Democrats can NOT stand up with full-throated support” or “Democrats can NOW stand up with full-throated support?”

    If the former then I am not sure I understand the structure of the argument.

  • humanoid.panda

    Dr. Stein knows where the blame for DeVos lies!
    https://twitter.com/AdamSerwer/status/829050494312148992

    • ……………………………

    • delazeur

      Good lord. How does a person get their head that deep into the sand?

      • tsam

        By being so inextricably wedded to a belief that’s partially true (Democrats serve corporate interests), that they insist it must be universally true (Stupid).

      • BigHank53

        If you gaze long into the stupid, the stupid also gazes into you.

      • Philip

        That’s, er, that’s not sand

  • Linnaeus

    Mark Beuerlein, writing in Vox, argues that DeVos’s job is not to defend public schools:

    At the same time, we have another discrepancy, outcomes versus public school funding. President Trump emphasized it in his inaugural speech when he mentioned “an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.” Adjusted for inflation, the national average for per-pupil spending rose steadily until the 2008 financial crisis, going from $8,600 in 1991-’92, to $9,900 in 2000-’01, to $11,600 in 2009-’10. In 2014, in spite of the strong hit that government revenues took after the crisis, per-pupil spending is still at $11,009. (See Table 8 of this report.)

    As the cost-benefit numbers continue to look bleak, the qualifications of a public school insider should mean less and less. And the more politicians and commentators insist that the first responsibility of the secretary of education is to represent and support public schools, the more we have an example of “capture” in government.

    Capture takes place when an agency charged with monitoring an industry or profession ends up in the service of it. The agency or official starts to regard the object of evaluation as a constituency that must be supported. When the governor of a state gets too close to the public employee unions around negotiating time, he has stopped representing the people of his state and become a partisan of special interests. He has been captured.

    • humanoid.panda

      From the same piece.

      t’s called the Privilege Walk, and it’s not an uncommon activity in high schools and college. You can see a version of it here. The purpose is to highlight disadvantages some have in life through no fault of their own. When my niece talked about it, she rolled her eyes, not because she denies inequities in the world but because the whole setup was so stagy and manipulative and solemn.

      I had a different reaction: Why spend precious class time on non-academic social consciousness exercises when the academic results of public schooling in America are so poor?

      Vox had gotten much better recently, but oh my god, this piece is a flaming piece of shit.

      • Linnaeus

        Beuerlein’s defense of charter and for-profit schooling is also weak:

        These alternatives to traditional public schooling should, of course, be held to the same standards. Indeed, one of the advantages of charter and for-profit schools has been that the failing ones don’t survive for very long. The system weeds them out. The secretary of education should support this quality control and be just as vigilant in monitoring progress with them as he is with the public schools. Indeed, as the alternative schooling movement spreads, one can imagine it attempting the same kind of capture that every other large industry aims for in its relations with the federal government.

        “One can imagine it attempting the same kind of capture…” That’s already happening now.

        (As an aside, this piece is part of Vox‘s Big Think series, which features writers who aren’t regular Vox staffers.)

        • humanoid.panda

          This is what annoys me so much about the debate: yeah, one could imagine a world in which charter schools are the same as public schools, but with more leeway to experiment in curriculum design/disciplinary approaches, whatever. I’d be down for that! But this is so plainly not the world in which we live, so liberal-ish education reform supporters are all basically assuming a can opener.

          Seriously: when the central aim of voucher proponents is to get government funding for creationism, how does Beuerlein propose we asssess their efforts?

          • Jordan

            Right, if it was just “curriculum experimentation” then sure, why not.

            But instead its union-busting, privatization (and thus profit-making), and religion-subsidizing. And fuck that.

            • tahfromslc

              Yep.

            • MAJeff

              But instead its union-busting, privatization (and thus profit-making), and religion-subsidizing. And fuck that.

              Don’t forget the segregation. Charters are the new seg academies.

          • Aaron Morrow

            One could imagine a world in which charter schools are the same as public schools, but with more leeway to experiment in curriculum design/disciplinary approaches, whatever. I’d be down for that!

            You could even call them “magnet schools.”

            “Shockingly”, without the opportunity for honest graft, magnet schools aren’t the ideal framework for education reformers grifters.

          • farin

            Seriously: when the central aim of voucher proponents is to get government funding for creationism, how does Beuerlein propose we asssess their efforts?

            By how much government funding they managed to get, like the good capitalists we aspire to be.

    • Murc

      Wow. That idiot has a gross misunderstanding of what capture actually is and why it is bad.

      Actually, I take that back. This argument is just flat out bad faith, is what it is. I mean, it is literally that the person in charge of running public schools shouldn’t defend and support public schools! It tries to slide the notion that government support for education is illegitimate right into the discourse without even beginning to support it.

      I mean. Non-public schools don’t need government help, and if they started receiving it they wouldn’t be private schools anymore under any reasonable definition.

      • tahfromslc

        But they are receiving it, especially in Michigan.

      • MAJeff

        This argument is just flat out bad faith, is what it is

        That’s Bauelein.

    • tahfromslc

      I think I’ve heard this bullshit for over 35 years.

    • Hogan

      In 2014, in spite of the strong hit that government revenues took after the crisis, per-pupil spending is still at $11,009.

      Is that supposed to mean something? All by itself like that?

      • lunaticllama

        If anything, it sounds like the state has its priorities straight – keep investing in the next generation’s education through economic calamities.

      • Michael Cain

        When I worked on a state legislative budget staff, what we heard often was the easy 25 students (standard grade-school class size) times $11,000 per student for classroom expenses (capital was a different pot of money) is over a quarter-million dollars every year. When it’s put that way, the next questions that come are “Why aren’t you buying new books every year? Why isn’t there money for supplies? Why is my kid sitting in a desk that’s f*cking falling apart?”

    • The Great God Pan

      What the fuck, Vox. Bauerlein isn’t even a liberal with a Bookeresque soft spot for “school choice.” He’s an editor at First Things, of all publications, where he writes shit like this.

      • Phil Perspective

        Why is Vox letting someone who endorsed Trump write for them? Did they get paid for running this garbage?

        • Linnaeus

          It’s part of a series that Vox runs wherein they invite guest writers. Beuerlein isn’t the first right or right-leaning person to contribute to it.

  • tahfromslc

    I think you mean “Democrats CAN stand up with full throated support…”

    And I agree.

    Booker did tweet “to all who are angry or frustrated about today’s vote confirming DeVos: the vote may be over, but our fight must continue.” And, prior to the vote, he tweeted that her confirmation “will be a huge loss for American education.” I don’t know exactly what that means, but does seem a position shift.

    • humanoid.panda

      I think one thing DeVos does is to separate people who believe that “reform” is meant to improve public education, and people who want to dismantle it. We can argue with the former, but must fight the latter.

      • tahfromslc

        Yes.

  • BigHank53

    Wanna read something about Michigan education that will make you punch your monitor? They use $100 million of federal block-grant welfare cash to fund in-state scholarships for expensive private schools.

    • keta

      Good grief. That is…really fucked up. And on top of it all, over 40% of the funds get eaten up by administrating the money.

      • Linnaeus

        Too many public workers!

      • Dennis Orphen

        Kleptocrats gotta steal.

  • jimpharo

    We should also tie this attack on education to Drumpf’s broader attack on society. This is just another grift for them based on whipping up fear that Everything’s Going To Shit. In truth, there’s a lot about public education in the US that’s pretty good…just like the United States itself…

    • LosGatosCA

      Don’t try to mellow their rage.

  • DrDick

    She bought my Republican Senator for $48K. Of course I think he is in complete agreement with everyone in the Trump administration, vile piece of choleric shit that he is.

    • liberal

      AFAICT one of the most important tactics going forward is to get Democratic candidates for congressional office to agree they will try to “nationalize” their election contest.

      • mds

        Yeah, because good God, Collins and her horseshit “moderation” are well past their expiration date. Her utterly meaningless gestures towards centrism when they don’t affect the outcome need to be called out back home. “I can’t bring myself to vote for DeVos. Well, I can vote her out of committee, but not vote for her on the floor. As long as I know she’ll be approved anyway, or I would have toed the line.”

        (Yes, plenty of senators have been released to take symbolic votes when the majority leader knew he had it sewn up anyway. And when the things being enabled by this gambit are utterly repugnant, the perpetrators need to be called out for it.)

        Murkowski, I kinda give a pass, because AFAIK she doesn’t actually pretend to be a fuzzy moderate to her constituents.

        • efgoldman

          “As long as I know she’ll be approved anyway, or I would have toed the line.”

          Suzie Q, along with Grandpa Mavericky and to a lesser extent, Lindsay, has a long long history of this.
          And, unfortunately, I understand that her personal popularity in Maine is still off the charts.

        • As far as I can tell, elections in Maine are basically settled by a block of “swing” voters who basically want Democratic policy preferences, but think there just has to be a better way of getting them than just voting for a Democrat. I don’t know, maybe they’re afraid of Democrat cooties. But they’ll vote for Collins everytime as long as she occasionally makes a show about disagreeing with the party about something. They all jumped on the Eliot Cutler bandwagon, even the second time when they knew damn well what would happen. And of course, they loved that Angus King when he ran for Senate on the platform of “the difference between Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid running is an unimportant detail that I’ll wait until after the election to figure out.”

          Maybe their forthcoming experiment with instant runoff voting will help this.

      • DrDick

        That probably would not work here in Montana, where provincialism is alive and rabid.

    • keta

      They’re not even bothering to mildly obfuscate any more.

      Remember Rove’s infamous quote? I’ve been reflecting on that a lot lately. Read it again, and then note this Trump quote from today:

      Asked whether he is prepared to press his case to the Supreme Court, Trump said: “Hopefully it doesn’t have to. It’s common sense.”
      “Some things are law, and some things are common sense,” Trump added. “This is common sense.”

      Bog weeps.

    • efgoldman

      She bought my Republican Senator for $48K.

      Speaking of which, what happened to the gofundme $$ to “buy back” Toomey’s vote? Did they try to give it to him? Embarrass the living shit out of him? What?

      • mds

        Given that they just re-elected the slimy little fuck, I doubt he gives two shits how much they try to “embarrass” him until 2022. Nice work, Pennsylvania!

    • AMK

      It’s less what’s been given and more the threat of giving much, much more to the primary challenger.

      • DrDick

        Daines is as reliably vile and reactionary as they come, so I doubt that it is possible to find anyone marginally competent to challenge him.

  • ASV

    And support good public schools.

    And support making bad ones better, not offering them up as a sacrifice.

    • rea

      Ms. DeVos has said (a least, here in local W MI media) that her thinking is much influenced by the work of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian and politician in the early 20th Century. To quote the font of all wisdom:

      The concept of sphere sovereignty was very important for Kuyper. He rejected the popular sovereignty of France in which all rights originated with the individual, and the state-sovereignty of Germany in which all rights derived from the state. Instead, he wanted to honour the “intermediate bodies” in society, such as schools and universities, the press, business and industry, the arts etc., each of which would be sovereign in its own sphere. In the interest of a level playing field, he championed the right of every faith community (among whom he counted humanists and socialists) to operate their own schools, newspapers, hospitals, youth movements etc. He sought equal government finances for all faith-based institutions. He saw an important role for the state in upholding the morality of the Dutch people. He favoured monarchy, and saw the House of Orange as historically and religiously linked to the Dutch people. His commitment to universal suffrage was only tactical; he expected the Anti-Revolutionary Party would be able to gain more seats this way. In actuality, Kuyper wanted a Householder Franchise where fathers of each family would vote for his family. He also favoured a Senate representing the various interest, vocational and professional groups in society.
      With his ideals he defended the interests of a group of middle class orthodox reformed, who were often referred to as “the little people” (de kleine luyden). He formulated the principle of antithesis: a divide between secular and religious politics. Liberals and socialists, who were opposed to mixing religion and politics were his natural opponents. Catholics were a natural ally, for not only did they want to practice religiously inspired politics, but they also were no electoral opponent, because they appealed to different religious groups. Socialists, who preached class conflict were a danger to the reformed workers. He called for workers to accept their fates and be happy with a simple life, because the afterlife would be much more satisfying and revolution would only lead to instability.

  • liberal

    Let Republicans own the disaster to follow.

    I thought there’s limits to how much damage they can do because of how much funding is state/local, not federal

    • MAJeff

      Have you seen the Republican legislatures in PA, WI, MN, MI, IA….? That’s a lot of stupid and evil.

  • dl

    As someone whose little brother was maimed by a public school grizzly bear attack, I resemble the content and tone of this post.

    • BigHank53

      Man, nothing good happens in Bowling Green.

      • Philip

        Someone should update Alice’s Restaurant to cover the Bowling Green Massacree

        • q-tip

          America’s grizzly bears are now hanging out at the town dump hoping for a handout. Sad!

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            Insert obligatory joke about the right to arm bears.

  • AdamPShort

    Obama’s worst policy was spreading democracy and freedom via flying death robot, but his public education policies were indeed terrible. The flying death robot policy was entirely under his control, though, so to me that one is far worse.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Truly progressive presidents use dumb-iron gravity bombs. It’s more sporting that way.

  • one of the blue

    Yes. Just like on ’05. When the year started out Social Security privatization was a bipartisan issue. Massive pushback from the base moved the congressional Democrats off the issue permanently.

    • Karen24

      And Rove was a SUPERGENIUS who would engineer a permanent Republican majority. Good times, good times.

      • so-in-so

        His timing may have been off, since many interpreted that as having a conservative majority SCOTUS.

  • TopsyJane

    Obama’s worst policy was spreading democracy and freedom via flying death robot, but his public education policies were indeed terrible. The flying death robot policy was entirely under his control, though, so to me that one is far worse.

    The appointment of Arne Duncan was in his control.

  • Gone2Ground

    Diane Ravitch makes good points here:

    https://dianeravitch.net/2017/02/07/betsy-devos-confirmed-despite-massive-protests/

    “For those of us fighting back against privatization, Betsy DeVos was a great tool for organizing and mobilizing and informing the public. Had there been one courageous Republican, had DeVos been defeated, Trump would have found another privatizer. And the fight would have started over.

    She created the informed public we need to build a strong movement against privatization.”

    • dbk

      Yes, I think Ravitch is right here. I just read somewhere that the NEA (National Education Association) ended up with an active mailing list of a million names. That’s impressive.

  • Just_Dropping_By

    But it’s an expected loss and it has severely discredited her and the fascist administration that she represents so well.

    Look, you get to pick: DeVos is either a fan of privatizing schools, seeking to diminish central government control over the education system, and dispersing federal funds to unaccountable rival power centers (which is what people have been saying since her nomination was announced) or she “represents so well” a “fascist administration.” Because these statements cannot simultaneously be true unless “fascist” just means “ideology I don’t like” — actual fascist regimes increased central government control over education and sought to suppress or co-opt rival power centers in education (see e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_persecution_of_the_Catholic_Church_in_Germany#Suppression_of_Catholic_education; see, e.g., https://books.google.com/books?id=v0ZZBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA99&dq=fascists+montessori+1934&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR-JHXpf_RAhVr34MKHTWuCw04ChDoAQhBMAg#v=onepage&q=fascists%20montessori%201934&f=false; see, e.g., https://books.google.com/books?id=MiCNCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA218&dq=fascists+montessori+1934&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwitxtu0pf_RAhWDz4MKHYCeB6MQ6AEINDAF#v=onepage&q=fascists%20montessori%201934&f=false). Someone telling Hitler or Mussolini that she thought the national government’s role in education shouldn’t extend beyond sending parents a check to spend at the school of their choice without further accountability or oversight would have been shot, not made minister of education.

    • AMK

      Except “sending parents a check for the school of their choice” is not what she actually believes. What she actually believes is Christian Dominionism, which is thoroughly fascistic. She just realizes that vouchers that will benefit religious schools is the best she can realistically expect in this godless country.

      • LosGatosCA

        To me, fascism is just a cult (any cult) with the political goal of supreme dominance by force, if necessary. Everyone in the cult or cult sympathizers knows what it takes to be a member and they all agree on who the enemies are.

        That’s it.

        The means to gain power, the means to share power (you get school vouchers, he gets to g**b p***y, the military gets to have their wars, the 1% get to loot the treasury and prey on the outsiders,etc) are merely tools to maintain power in a way that all the cultists feel their needs are being addressed.

        There are no Roberts Rules of Fascism that I’m aware of.

        • tsam

          Oh crap. I guess I need to rewrite some bylaws.

    • tsam

      Fascism doesn’t have to be exactly like 1930s European craziness. There’s an element of fascism in the end goal of taking money away from public schools and giving it to suburban whites so their kids can go to private schools and leave everyone else behind. You can fit that into a few different types of oppressive regime models, but today’s fascists are all up in that idea. It creates an underclass and an Uber class of chosen whites.

      • MAJeff

        It creates an underclass and an Uber class of chosen whites.

        For some reason, describing this as “Muggles in their rightful place” really resonated with my students.

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