Betsy DeVos vowed to put an end to Common Core curriculum at a rally with President-elect Donald Trump in Grand Rapids, Mi, Friday night, Forbes’ Maureen Sullivan reports. The rally was part of Trump’s “Thank You” tour of states he won during the November 8 presidential election. Trump has selected DeVos to head the Department of Education in his administration.
“Just between us,” DeVos said to the crowd that filled the DeltaPlex Arena, “it’s time to make education great again in this country.” It was a riff on Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” of course.
To DeVos, in order to “make education great again,” we must “put an end to federalized Common Core” and offer more “choices and options” for students and their parents. These are common rallying cries among conservatives who wish to do away with Common Core in favor of expanding voucher programs for private and charter schools and home schooling. The push for larger voucher programs is often broadly referred to as “school choice.”
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) December 10, 2016
DeVos, 58, who is married to a son of one of the billionaire founders of Amway, has spent 25 years advocating for school choice and the abolition of Common Core.
“DeVos chairs the pro-school-choice group American Federation for Children and is a member of the board of the Great Lakes Education Project,” Sullivan notes.
While DeVos’ approach to education has its supporters, it also has many critics. NPR’s Eric Westervelt referred to DeVos’ vision for education as “free market education” in an episode of All Things Considered.
Westervelt highlighted the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a nonprofit charter high school that focuses on aviation, aeronautics, engineering, and robotics that DeVos and her husband helped to found. The school appears to be doing great now. The students are excited and engaged, and they’re receiving valuable training in fields that may be experiencing a shortage of qualified workers in the near future, a recent New York Times article points out.
Betsy DeVos has basically destroyed education in Michigan. https://t.co/7otpu0n2fX
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) December 9, 2016
The problem with many charter schools, industry analysts argue, is that they simply don’t have a good track record overall. Many start out strong, but quickly fade.
“There’s a common pattern,” Douglas Harris, a professor of economics at Tulane University who studies charter schools, told NPR. “The best case scenario is that they don’t work. And the worst case scenario is they’re actually worse than the alternatives.”
He added that the projects DeVos has supported in Michigan have a poor track record themselves.
Harris is not alone in his skepticism of DeVos on her approach to Common Core and charter schools.
“Michigan charter schools are viewed as the wild, wild West of charters in the United States,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told NPR. “You need to have accountability for all, for charters as well as other public schools.”
He, too, says that charter schools and voucher programs have in general been a failure for America’s kids.
“Remember, DeVos is a big believer in for-profit education. She’s a big believer in vouchers, which after 25 years have not shown anything like the promise that they were sold about and, indeed, have not helped kids.”
Betsy Devos, however, is not without her supporters. At Friday’s rally, Trump had nothing but praise for his Department of Education pick.
“She’s going to do an incredible job,” Trump said, adding that DeVos would “make great strides” in education.
“It will be a beautiful thing,” he concluded.
Despite the support Betsy DeVos is sure to get from what is shaping up to be one of the most conservative administrations in recent history, she is bound to face considerable pushback against her efforts to abolish Common Core.
[Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]