It is a particular kind of terrible person that has managed to stay in their respective cabinet position for the entirety of the Trump Administration.
Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is the essence of that particular kind of terrible person: a specific amalgam of incompetent, evil, and servile. Her qualifications for the position are that she has a lot of money from the Amway fortune and she likes education. Well, private education. It is no surprise then, that the Secretary of Education views the American education system as a multi-level marketing organization to benefit her.
There is an earnest push from liberals and conservatives (read: many Americans) to reopen schools in the fall and an equally earnest push-back from educational professionals. While the American education system is famously heterogeneous, a cross-cutting feature is that it largely takes place indoors in relatively small [and often cramped] rooms.
With a lack of federal leadership on how to live in the time of COVID (but with solid leadership on how to die), America’s states, territories, federal district, and roughly 13,000 school districts have are faced with the prospect of what “reopening” will look like in the fall. For some, this will mean remote or online education. However, schools provide numerous other benefits (food, socialization, a place for kids to go while parents work, safe spaces for children, to name a few) that have more than just parents hoping that districts will figure out a way to open in the fall.
America’s districts, many of which are tasked with knitting the social fabric of America on a threadbare budget, have been generating a number of creative teaching arrangements (some very good, some creative, some plain bad) to try to protect teachers and children while ensuring that 2020-2021 won’t be a lost year of education.
The current Washington Death Cult has its own “creative” teaching arrangement that it hopes will meet the moment: Vouchers. In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Besty DeVos made an open play for the reorientation of federal funds away from public education (Chris Wallace did push her on the whole “Congress appropriates this kind of thing, not you, right?”).
Look, American investment in education is a promise to students and their families, if schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds. Then give it to the families to decide to got to a school that is going to meet that promise.-Betsy DeVos, Fox News Sunday, 7/12/20
More (well, maybe not more) worrying, if students aren’t in schools in the fall, expect conservatives with children in public schools to join the chorus of home-schoolers and private school parents to assert that they are paying taxes for an education that their children are not receiving. We’re already seeing the “sure, opening is your choice, but don’t make us pay for it” argument.
DeVos’ agenda has been no secret. The COVID pandemic provides a yawning window of opportunity for the Washington Death Cult to erode public education. States and localities will continue to hemorrhage tax dollars as they are tasked with addressing a global pandemic during a recession all the while constrained by balanced budget amendments (except, of course, Vermont).
Meanwhile the federal government, which can borrow until the literal end of the earth, is threatening not only to take money away, but to shovel money into direct competitors with public education.