Rotherham and Schmitz: 1 Million Teachers Don’t Get Social Security. Trump Can Make It Great Again By Letting Them In

Tucker Haynes: Why ‘Hidden Figures’ Should Be Required Viewing at Every U.S. School

Analysis: The NEA’s 5 Financially Shakiest States

Bradford: Teachers Unions Exploited Ed Reform Split Over DeVos While Never Losing Focus

Essay: Running for Change, South Dakota High Schooler Protests Pipeline, Meets the President (Twice)

Allen: Advice to Secretary DeVos — Lean In, Be Bold, Talk About Power, and Rethink Twitter

Opinion: Why I’m Taking My Child Out of Our Renewal School

Analysis: Was Hillary’s Union Support Limited to (Some of) the Public Sector?

Barber: Transformation — The Time Is Now

KIPP Leaders: 4 Critical Areas Secretary DeVos Should Focus on to Ensure All Students Succeed

Opinion: Now More Than Ever, Diverse Charter Schools Are Essential

Whitmire: Dear Secretary DeVos, If You Want to Grow Great Charter Schools, Do This, Not That

Sahm: Found in Yonkers

Hernandez: DeVos Should Tell Her Critics All Kids Deserve School Choice — Just Like Theirs Have

Marnie Kaplan: Sometimes Government IS the Solution — Reauthorizing Head Start, 10 Years Later

Analysis: The One Senator Teachers Unions Might Have Swayed on DeVos Is the One Who Couldn’t Vote ‘No’

Analysis: Facing Threats, Can Public-Sector Unions Learn From the Demise of Industrial Workers?

Bradford: Dangerous for Charter Advocates to Embrace Elizabeth Warren and Trash School Vouchers

Eden: When the New York Times’s Reporting on DeVos and Detroit Charters Looks Like ‘Alternative Facts’

Open Letter: What the NAACP Should Know About Florida’s Charter Schools Ahead of Tonight’s Orlando Hearing

Campbell Brown: On Betsy DeVos

November 27, 2016

Talking Points

.@campbell_brown on Betsy DeVos, our next Secretary of Education

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Social media attacks aren’t famous for accuracy, but it’s a pity that Betsy DeVos has been so misleadingly caricatured since Donald Trump asked her to serve as secretary of education last week.
Not just because she’s a friend. Also because her attackers needlessly reopen late-NCLB fault lines and deepen the clamor that follows Trump everywhere.
It will be harder than ever to be heard above the noise.
The following outbursts could have been chosen at random (they weren’t; I omitted a conservative editor who said she would commit seppuku, a form of ritual suicide):
“She wants her million[aire] and billionaire friends to profit off of childhood education,” said the president of the Michigan Federation of Teachers.
@rweingarten: “Trump has chosen the most ideological, anti–public ed nominee since the creation of the Dept of Education.”
And Brandon Dillon, Michigan’s Democratic Party chairman, claimed DeVos wants “to channel her family’s massive wealth toward destroying Michigan’s public education system.”
Really?
Point of correction: Shiva the god of death was not asked to serve.
Point of correction: Charter schools are public schools.
And an anecdote about traditional schools. Dillon hails from Betsy’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., and presumably believes DeVos wants to destroy the schools there. It’s recommended that he grab coffee with Teresa Weatherall Neal, the superintendent of that very poor (85 percent free lunch) but improving district, the state’s fifth-largest.
Neal told MLive that DeVos had partnered closely since the superintendent’s arrival five years ago, helping her form a plan, paying coaching costs and, to this day, sending encouraging notes. “She was part of the transformation that we have done in the district,” Neal said.
As to DeVos’s selection: “I’m really excited for the children across the nation,” Neal said. “She has been a wonderful supporter of GRPS and our transition plan. She knows education. She knows what it is going to take in order for our kids to be helped.”
The suggestion that Betsy’s work with children is ideologically or financially driven would be disputed, I’d guess, by just about everyone who has spent time alongside her during the past 30 years as she founded, helped run and advised education groups and initiatives that have helped improve education across the country — including thousands of teachers and poor families.
Part of the difference between the politician’s and practitioner’s view of her efforts stems from the fact that she understands what things are supposed to look like at the school level and has been single-minded in improving opportunities there for children.
Politically, that means she can be agile when she needs to be and dig in on core principles when she must. She is tenacious in defending the best interests of children rather than interest groups and their political patrons.
She is a born decision-maker, thick-skinned, never long discouraged by setbacks and impervious to hostile criticism. Like many friends, she and I agree a lot and disagree a lot; I never doubt her intelligence, good faith and inclination to think on all sides of a problem.
While we wait for “tireless” to be discharged from the army of clichés so that I can use it on her, I’ll emphasize that her life’s project is to help children; she works as hard at it as anyone I know; and she will support and build on and keep pushing to improve whatever model is working — traditional or charter or voucher or something we haven’t yet imagined.
Before long, I hope, a lot of people will be surprised by how much someone truly committed to educational excellence can accomplish for parents and children.
 
Related Coverage at The 74

Keierleber: New to Team Trump, DeVos Has Long Been on Team Pence

Phenicie: Did Senate ‘Nuclear Option’ Help DeVos Rise Above Rhee for Education Secretary Nod?

Petrilli: 20 Big Questions for Betsy DeVos

 


The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has provided philanthropic support to The 74, which I co-founded. I sit on the board of directors of the American Federation for Children, which Betsy DeVos chaired before her nomination. The American Federation for Children also sponsored The 74’s 2015 New Hampshire education summit.