Betsy DeVos testifies Jan. 17, 2017, before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing to be the next secretary of education. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Yuri Gripas

5 faith facts about Betsy DeVos

(RNS) The position for which Betsy DeVos has been confirmed — secretary of education — is one of the least powerful in the Cabinet, in terms of its budget and position in the line of succession to the presidency.


RELATED: Trump advisers: The faith factor


And yet, after a confirmation hearing in which she struggled to answer questions, some Senate offices had received more calls opposing DeVos than any other Cabinet nominee.

As president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday (Feb. 7) to confirm the businesswoman and philanthropist as education secretary. It is the first time a vice president has cast the deciding vote on a Cabinet nominee.

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DeVos is the chair of Michigan-based investment and management firm The Windquest Group. She has been active in politics for more than 35 years, according to her website; most recently, her focus has been on school choice.

Here are five faith facts about DeVos.

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1. DeVos has roots in the Christian Reformed tradition.

DeVos grew up in the Christian Reformed Church and graduated from schools affiliated with the tradition: Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Mich., and Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The Christian Reformed Church, formed by Dutch immigrants settling the Midwest in the 1800s, grew out of Dutch Calvinism – splitting from the older Reformed Church in America in the 1850s. One of the churches' disagreements was about education: The Reformed Church in America viewed schooling as the responsibility of the government, while the Christian Reformed Church viewed it as the responsibility of the family.

But, Abram Van Engen pointed out at Religion & Politics, the Christian Reformed Church says nothing about vouchers or charter schools, and it never has threatened public education.

Most recently, DeVos has been a member and elder at Mars Hill Bible Church, the nondenominational, evangelical Christian church founded by popular author Rob Bell in Grandville, Mich.

2. DeVos supports school vouchers — the use of public money to send children to private schools, including religious schools.

DeVos has supported expanding charter schools and school vouchers, both as an advocate and as a philanthropist. Vouchers allow students to take taxpayer dollars with them to private schools. That includes religious schools.

Vouchers are popular with conservative Christians, and Pence had expanded taxpayer-funded vouchers, as well as charter schools, when he was governor of Indiana.

Laura Turner explained that support in Politico:

"Her support for charter schools has roots in the cozy relationship among Republicans, Christianity and the business world, which have been aligned for decades in support of individualism and, by extension, industry deregulation."

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3. DeVos also has financially supported Christian schools.

A Mother Jones analysis found the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation had given nearly half of its donations between 1999 and 2014 – out of a total $100 million – to Christian organizations. That includes $8.6 million to religious schools such as Holland Christian Schools, the Grand Rapids Christian High School Association and the Ada Christian School.

4. DeVos has said she wants to "advance God's kingdom" through education.

In an oft-quoted audio recording of a 2001 gathering of Christian philanthropists obtained by Politico, DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, the former CEO of multilevel marketing company Amway, confirmed they share a Christian worldview that comes from the Calvinist tradition.

"Our desire is to ... confront the culture in which we all live today in ways which will continue to advance God's kingdom, not to stay in our own safe territories," Betsy DeVos said.

Van Engen suggested this is less about "theocracy" and more about a "service-oriented vision of vocation." As Dick DeVos immediately added in the interview, it would be easier only to work within Christian schools – those "safe territories." But the couple is motivated by their worldview to be part of the world, not separate from it; to take a more systemic approach; to "drive better performance across all education," he said.

5. Evangelical support for DeVos as secretary of education was mixed.

Some Calvin College alumni spoke out in support of DeVos' nomination, as did the Illinois Family Institute. And in an op-ed for Fox News, Faith & Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed chalked up opposition to her nomination as a "liberal smear campaign against Mrs. DeVos' religious faith," a tactic he called "despicable."

But fellow Christians also had opposed her nomination.

More than 2,700 Calvin alumni signed a petition saying they oppose DeVos' nomination because they did not believe she was qualified: She has never worked as an educator and does not have a strong commitment to public education, among other reasons.

DeVos has said she is not opposed to public education, but that "all of the schools would become better as a result" of more competition from other schools.

Comments

  1. Her faith alone does not qualify her for the cabinet position. My having been a child at one time does not qualify me as being a child neurosurgeon. We need strong public school support for our country to succeed.

  2. Right. The public school system is a mess. We need to eliminate the dept of education.

  3. From a constitutional standpoint, yes. The constitution certainly delegates no power to the feds in the realm of education.

  4. And replace it with what? A private system designed not to educate an entire population?

    Charter schools are no more effective than public counterparts and private schools function largely to avoid the idea of providing education for all. Vouchers are not only largely illegal but attack public school funding and are fundamentally flawed as a premise. Quality private schools will use the vouchers as an excuse to jack up tuitions. Much like cheap student loan money did for colleges. Bottom feeder schools will warehouse students because the government is their consumer, not parents.

    The reason why public education doesn’t work in some places is due to deliberate attacks on its ability to function. To then complain that a government service doesn’t work when one is actively undermining it is typical conservative hypocrisy.

    DeVos is unqualified to lead the nation’s public education system. Her previous localized efforts to privatize education was resoundingly rejected by voters. She has no regard for the mandate of the public education system to provide for all citizens.
    She has never stepped foot in a public school.

    The conservative attacks on public education are one of the most cretinous and destructive platforms they have. An educated populous appears to be a threat to much of their goals.

  5. State K-12 school systems rely on federal tax dollars, which always comes with strings attached. These strings include federal standards and insuring that a fair and decent education is available to all. Then you have federal tax dollars to colleges and universities. So it can’t be eliminated entirely. However, since it was separated in 1980, education has gone downhill while funding has increased. However, I doubt if DeVos or Trump have the solution.

  6. ” . . . school vouchers — the use of public money to send children to private schools, including religious schools.
    The writer and all other educators need to retire that old argument about public money being used to support religious schools being against the law. That law was written at a time when fear-mongers in the country whipped up fears of Irish Catholic immigrants coming to this country in such big numbers. Protestants were afraid they would turn us into a Catholic nation and put the pope in charge! That situation–and argument, is several decades out of date, yet teachers unions still keep it on the books.
    The other negative arguments that charter schools are a threat to public schools are based in willful ignorance: charter schools ARE themselves public schools! The biggest differences are they are not required to hire teachers that are members of a teachers union, and they’re more creative since they’re not hamstrung by stifling union regulations.
    To conclude, BOTH charter schools and vouchers for public and religious schools have proven to be the best tickets to a quality education and up and out of poverty. I don’t see how anyone can argue that supporting teachers unions and fattening everyone’s paycheck in any way furthers the Kingdom of God!
    Two cents’ worth from a former teacher and school administrator.

  7. Yet the Feds return tax monies to states for education so they have power and influence. States’ Rights can mean poorly educated students from Tennessee, for example, might be ill-equipped to compete in other states. And of course, creationism, young earth and other religion-based nonsense.

  8. Like putting Caribou Barbie (Palin) in charge of the World Wildlife Federation.

  9. Betsy DeVos: “Our desire is to … confront the culture in which we all live today in
    ways which will continue to advance God’s kingdom, not to stay in our
    own safe territories.”

    I’d say that her faith alone should disqualify her for the cabinet position.

  10. You can’t use federal dollars for religious schools unless all religions are treated equally. Fat chance of that! Also, would the schools be open to atheists and students of other faiths? My grandson, goes to a Catholic high school in Louisiana because it’s superior to the public schools. I applaud my son, an atheist, for trying to insure the best education for his son. Liberals have screwed up our education system.

  11. Mr. Johnson, please cite me the law requiring all religions–including atheists to receive equal consideration in the matter of federal dollars for religious schools! I doubt that such a law exists! It makes lots of sense to offer vouchers to Mormon and Jewish students who may choose to attend those schools!
    Regarding atheists: No atheist group has yet started their own school in hopes of receiving federal dollars, although I will probably live to see the day when they do!

  12. Here is what kind of teachings and textbooks Devos will bring to US schools.

    “The ‘Christian’ Dogma Pushed by Religious Schools That Are Supported by Your Tax Dollars”
    http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/2011/05/hundreds-of-fundamentalist-religious.html

    Excerpt: “Are your state’s tax dollars funding the teaching of religious supremacism and bigotry? What about creationism? The answer is undoubtedly yes, if you live in a state with a voucher or corporate tax credit program funding “school choice.”
    ” Religious schools across the nation are receiving public funds through voucher and corporate tax credit programs. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of these schools use Protestant fundamentalist textbooks that teach not only creationism, but also a religious supremacist worldview. They offer a shocking spin on politics, history and human rights.
    ” In 12 states and the District of Columbia, almost 200,000 students attend private schools with at least part of their tuition paid with public funds. The money is taken from public school budgets to fund vouchers or by diverting state tax revenues to tuition grants through corporate tax credit programs. An interconnected group of non-profits and political action committees, led by the wealthy right-wing school privatization advocate Betsy DeVos and heavily funded by a few mega-donors, is working to expand these programs across the nation. The DeVos-led American Federation for Children hosted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Michelle Rhee at a national policy summit earlier in May.
    “Take a look at what growing numbers of students are being taught with taxpayer funding. The textbook quotes are followed by a description of the Florida tax credit program, the largest of its kind in the country. …”

  13. The State’s rights argument never made a bit of sense for education standards. What kind of facts or subjects would a person in Tennessee need to know that a person in New York wouldn’t?

    In every case when conservatives start making state’s rights arguments it means one of two things:
    1. They are trying to avoid 14th Amendment Equal Protection rights
    2. They are trying to advance some form of patronage and corrupt diversion of state resources to well placed cronies.

  14. I’m sure the teacher’s unions back East agree with you 100 percent, Spuddie.
    Unfortunately for both you and them, as of now, Betsy DeVos — now Secretary DeVos — is going to give you both something to complain about for the next four years. (Heh!!)

    Hey, I love the public schools, that’s where I grew up. But times change.

    I only made it because of God, and Mom & Dad’s home training. Math drills, Bible lessons, the cheap home encyclopedia they made us read, the telescope from the Pawn-Shop that they scrimped and saved for, so I could learn astronomy. They sacrificed themselves.

    But today’s teachers are in sacrifice mode already. Overcrowded & overloaded, babysitting time-bomb kids, the red tape, putting out too many fires.

    So the rat-race losers will always be the minorities and the poor, Spuddie.
    UNLESS — those parents are given assistance to enroll in Charter Schools where the teachers are not hog-tied, and where teachers’ sacrifices will create RESULTS. That’s why we need Betsy DeVos.

  15. The American taxpayers who most want to see public funds diverted to religious schools are the ones who also like to pretend no other religion exists in the US besides fundamentalist protestant Christianity. So they will plotz when they see that it won’t all be going towards furthering Creationism and Dominionism.

  16. “The writer and all other educators need to retire that old argument about public money being used to support religious schools being against the law.”

    You need to educate yourself on the subject. You are citing the wrong reasons why vouchers could be considered illegal.

    They are against the law…if there are no or few secular alternatives to religious schools available to receive vouchers. The program has to be religiously neutral and not encourage religious schools as the sole or primary option. There was a 2002 SCOTUS decision on the subject

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelman_v._Simmons-Harris

    Under the Private Choice Test developed by the court, for a voucher program to be constitutional it must meet all of the following criteria:
    -the program must have a valid secular purpose
    -aid must go to parents and not to the schools
    -a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered
    -the program must be neutral with respect to religion
    -there must be adequate nonreligious options

    Many states have their own laws which forbid state funding of religious schools making it a more local issue than the Department of Education would be able to handle.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaine_Amendment

  17. “Mr. Johnson, please cite me the law requiring all religions–including
    atheists to receive equal consideration in the matter of federal dollars
    for religious schools! ”

    Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002),

    Under the Private Choice Test developed by the court, for a voucher program to be constitutional it must meet all of the following criteria:

    -the program must have a valid secular purpose
    -aid must go to parents and not to the schools
    -a broad class of beneficiaries must be covered
    -the program must be neutral with respect to religion
    -there must be adequate nonreligious options

    Since the last 2 are almost never met in any good faith manner, most voucher programs are illegal under this test.

  18. Not merely “gone downhill.” I still remember the year my high school alma mater, which I was so proud of, was officially classified as “an inner-city at-risk school.”

    That was NOT a compliment, believe me. It was almost on par with saying that I graduated from “Black-Ghetto-Reject High School.”

    The worst part was, nobody was in a position to disagree with the label. (Especially after they found a loaded gun just laying there in the front yard of the high school, just waiting for kids to pick it up and give it a test drive.)

    Things are better now, because they found a principal with a PhD who was smart enough to win a million-dollar grant from the Feds. But even with all the improvements, there’s still some work — and parents — needed.

  19. You are not saying anything remotely relevant here.

    Your Bible lessons and religious education are not worthy of my tax dollars.

    Privatizing the system doesn’t solve any of the problems of overcrowded or overloaded classrooms. It just gives a profit incentive to do it by cronies of the given state government. In a voucher or privatized system, the customers are not the students or the parents. Its the government. You end up creating incentives to provide as little as possible to students to maximize government funding and profits. Like every other privatizing effort of a public service.

    “those parents are given assistance to enroll in Charter Schools where
    the teachers are not hog-tied, and where the teachers’ sacrifices will
    create RESULTS.”

    Those “results” come from the fact that those schools do not have a mandate to teach an entire community. They can drop students to improve numbers in a way public schools cannot. Charter schools are no more effective than entirely publicly funded schools.
    http://www.data-first.org/questions/how-do-charter-schools-compare-to-regular-public-schools-in-student-performance/

    Btw you are absolutely delusional if you think these measures are meant to improve the education of minorities and poor. They wont. There is no motivation or profit motive for doing so.

  20. That’s no problem. Muslim and Jewish parents face the same broken-down public-education system as the Christian and Atheist parents. Let’s give them ALL a choice, especially the ones who need a school where teachers can give that extra jump-start that might save their kids.

    Don’t worry, most parents will still choose the public-school scene; nobody’s going to put public-school teachers out of work. But there are other parents who seek to keep their at-risk kids from falling through the cracks. So the teachers’ unions will have to get used to sharing a few dollars with the Charter Schools.

    The NEA doesn’t need to hog all that federal money; the NEA mostly just needs an Enema.

  21. And here is Exhibit A of the failure of the public school system: American citizens who have no earthly idea what federalism is. Sigh.

  22. And let DeVos do to education what her brother, Erik Prince,(founder of Blackwater) did for the military. He sent unvetted, untrained, unsupervised people to Iraq, causing no end of problems while pocketing billions in government contracts for himself. This is what you’ll get.

    Prince is under investigation for fraud, and recently moved to Abu Dhabi, while other top Blackwater management face criminal charges. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/world/18blackwater.html

  23. “Things are better now, because they found a principal with a PhD who
    was smart enough to win a million-dollar grant from the Feds. But even
    with all the improvements, there’s still some work — and parents —
    needed.”

    So by your example public schooling evidently works when it is funded in an adequate fashion and given proper oversight, go figure. So the whole nonsense of it being poor because it is government run doesn’t actually bear out.

    Guess what? Charter schools are also only as good as the funding and the oversight they have. Plus they get to massage their statistics by dropping students in a way public schools can’t. There is nothing inherent to them which makes a difference other than student selection. An option which only exists where there are public schools still in operation.

  24. Actually, if you ever decide to check it out, you’ll see that Charter Schools aren’t about doing profits but offering alternatives.

    In some places, unless you have big $$$$ for private schools, you are locked into a school based on your Zip Code. Which means if you’re on the poor side of town and your kid is at-risk, the overcrowded busy teachers might NOT be able to dig your kid out of the hole.

    So in my hometown, some black & white teachers banded together, and they started a Charter School for at-risk youth — where the kids can get individualized hard-work, and thus get THEIR shot at university just like the “normal” kids.

    The teachers don’t want or need profits. They want to get the the nobody-cares kids, into a real college, tech school, or military trade school. They put their own Money Skin in the game, so poor & minority parents can afford it. THAT school deserves a share of federal school money 10 times as much as the public schools.

  25. Alternatives which only exist when you aren’t dismantling public education as DeVos wants. It is not a replacement for public schooling. Of course it takes a good deal of hypocrisy to complain about public schools being inadequate when you have government officials deliberately defunding them in various forms.

    Charter School management companies are very much doing it for profit and in many states where oversight is not stringent, they are far worse than public schools.

    The advantage such schools have over public ones is not so much of the system or education styles, its their ability to select who goes there. If that same charter school you used as an example had to educate all students in a given community, they would not be as effective as they are.

  26. In short, DeVos is a dedicated enemy of American public schools, which have served 90% of our kids for over 150 years. DeVos has nothing but scorn for our American constitutional heritage of the church-state separation that is supposed to protect our religious liberty.

    Trump, V-P Pence and the 50 GOP Senators who succeeded in getting DeVos in as Education Secretary have shown themselves to be complicit in their enmity toward public education and religious liberty.

    Americans of all religious persuasions, Democrats and Republicans, must now work together to roll back the Trump/GOP attack on our basic institutions.

    BTW, thank you, Senators Collins and Murkowski, for having the courage to stand up to Trump, McConnell and Alexander.

    Edd Doerr

  27. Hey, public school worked for me decades before my alma mater got that million-dollar grant. It worked because I received A LOT of extra training, both “secular” and “Christian”, from my parents.

    I don’t have to tell you that I know of some classmates who did NOT receive such home-training. (Not all of them are alive now, and not all escaped poverty — but you already knew that.)
    And I’m not even talking about the atavistic mess in the big cities. Some of *those* public schools have huge problems, as you know.

    The idea here, is just to bring some badly needed help for some parents & kids, who because of school overcrowding, budget and staffing problems, CANNOT find their solutions within the public school. The money’s there; the charters don’t need much. Just give the NEA their enema, and the union fanatics will calm down.

    Now you may not believe that “at-risk” parents and their kids deserve affordable alternative choices to help them make the finish line of success with their peers, but I really do.

  28. Think of it this way, Mr. Alien. If your kid wants to break into the GOOD universities, he or she must score very high on the ACT, SAT, and other tests, is that right? Right.

    So let’s say that you decide to send your kid to a Charter School, say a church-sponsored Charter School where they not only give your child tons of age-appropriate Science-Tech-Engineering-Math (or “STEM”) training, but they also teach your child to memorize 50 Bible Verses every year, including the creationist Genesis 1:1, to train your child in valuable fast-paced memorization skills. (And also to promote ethical decision-making skills).

    Now those Bible Verses will never show up on the ACT or SAT tests, of course. But your high-school kid’s vastly-sharpened memorization and processing skills will SURELY show up on the ACT and SAT test scores. Especially when scholarship offers for the Top 20 engineering or business schools show up in the mailbox. Wouldn’t you like to see your kid snag all those big $$$$$ for the big colleges?

    Well then, don’t just sit there Mr. Alien. Support Betsy DeVos NOW, so that she can help these charter schools get cranked up for your kid’s success !!!

  29. “And I’m not even talking about the atavistic mess in the big cities. Some of *those* public schools have huge problems, as you know.”

    And lack of funding/oversight has a lot to do with the problems. Its not the concept of public schooling, its the execution. I think we have reached agreement here.

    If the money for charter schools didn’t at any time draw from the same pool of funding for public schools then your point is well made. But unfortunately for many politicians, they see charter schools as a replacement for public schools not a possible alternative to them. DeVos is one of them. So they fund charter schools at the expense of public ones. That doesn’t do anything besides enrich political cronies. You don’t create alternatives that way, you simply change the nature of the singular option.

    I actually agree with your point. But the thing is, DeVos doesn’t want affordable alternative choices, she wants to destroy public schools and create a purely privatized and religious based system in its place.

  30. “but they also teach your child to memorize 50 Bible Verses every
    year, including the creationist Genesis 1:1, to train your child in
    valuable fast-paced memorization skills. (And also to promote ethical
    decision-making skills).”

    So they will not teach biology, physics or earth science in an adequate fashion. Depriving children of vital science education for the sake of religious nonsense. More importantly those schools will be able to discriminate while using tax dollars.

    Charter schools and religious schools are not any better than public versions with the same level of funding. Schools which teach poor to working class students do not provide better education because they are not public schools. They simply are able to weed out students in a way public schools cannot. Privatizing education will not improve it in any way.

    DeVos wants to destroy public education. She has no regard for your kids. She wants to warehouse poor and minority students to enrich her friends.

  31. “Don’t worry, most parents will still choose the public-school scene”

    No they won’t because it won’t be an option. Have you bothered to find out DeVos’s position on education or are you just spouting off ignorantly?

    What you call “school choice” is nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. Destroying public schooling to fund private and religious schools doesn’t improve education at all. It just makes private educators richer at taxpayer expense.

    As for the NEA, I guess cretins have no use for the arts. Velvet paintings are about their speed.

  32. “…some American universities refuse to accept high school credit for courses taught from several textbooks quoted in this article. [the article I linked to in my comment above] University of California specifically cited several A Beka and Bob Jones textbooks and, although challenged in court, won the case.

    Here are some of the other things the textbooks funded and pushed by Devos and her ilk will teach your kids. It’s what I call intellectual abuse:

    “…the textbooks are fiercely anti-abortion and virulently anti-gay, similar to the ideology of Religious Right organizations (heavily funded by Betsy DeVos and family) that have been labeled hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A Bob Jones current events text argues against legal protection for gays, stating, “These people have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists.” The text uses an often-repeated phrase that homosexuals and abortion-rights supporters are “simply calling evil good.” They also teach a radical laissez-faire capitalism. Government safety nets, regulation, minimum wage and progressive taxes are described as contrary to the Bible.”

    “The textbooks exhibit hostility toward other religions … All three series include biblical creationism in their science curriculum.”

    “The A Beka civics text states, “God’s original purpose for government was to punish the evil and reward the good.” The same text describes the ideal form of government. “All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy.””

    “…a Bob Jones high school text states, “To help them endure the difficulties of slavery, God gave Christian slaves the ability to combine the African heritage of song with the dignity of Christian praise. Through the Negro spiritual, the slaves developed the patience to wait on the Lord and discovered that the truest freedom is from the bondage of sin.””

    “Global warming is presented as a theory that is “simply not supported by scientific evidence,” and is supposedly promoted by environmentalists for destructive reasons, according to the A Beka economics text.”

    “… Bob Jones text explains, “From a Christian standpoint, there are only two worldviews from which to choose — a Christian worldview or a non-Christian worldview. The most important beliefs in a Christian worldview are the beliefs that the Bible is the Word of God and the only completely reliable thing in this world.””

    “The worldview of these textbook publishers impact areas you might not suspect, including choosing phonics over whole language reading instruction and rejecting the teaching of set theory in mathematics, both on religious grounds.”

    Many of the students in those religious schools supported by Devos use the Accelerated Christian Education program. A former student of that program has written extensively about the harms of that program. Here’s a link to his blog and a summary of the kind of education ACE provides:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism/accelerated-christian-education/

    Go to that link to find individual articles on each of the following points:

    ACE is racist (although not as racist as it used to be)
    ACE teaches lies as fact (including the claim that no nuclear fusion occurs in the sun)
    ACE indoctrinates political propaganda
    ACE perverts the scientific method
    ACE teaches MORE lies as fact (including the claim that science proves homosexuality is a learned behaviour)
    ACE indoctrinates MORE political propaganda (all state health care is against God’s will)
    ACE is educationally unsound according to educational experts (every other post – see here, here, here, and here)
    Christian educators and theologians agree that ACE is unsound
    ACE explicitly teaches children to ignore reason and evidence.
    ACE promotes intolerance (on the IOE London blog)
    Historically, ACE has advocated strict corporal punishment; many of its schools still do.
    Accelerated Christian education validated by government agency Gives some reasons why ACE is academically sub-par, regardless of content.

  33. Funny because you have identified a couple of things my kids who are teachers think are needed. More money. More teaching resources including TAs for special needs kids. School funding is about 2/3rds other schools. Less kids per class. Working on a strategy to have parents value their kids success. Charter schools aren’t the answer.

  34. I agree that nationwide educational standards are critical given the mobility of our society.

  35. I wasn’t talking about atheist schools. I was referring to a situation where the best public/charter school in the area was religious. That school would have to allow someone of another (or an atheist) religion to attend and accommodate them. If not the no government funding.

  36. The educational establishment’s domination of national policies is part of the quagmire that needs draining. If Betsy DeVos can pull the plug on that slough of the swamp, power to her, regardless of her “qualifications.”

  37. What a breathtaking display of ignorance, Spuddle! I explained why issuing vouchers is still against the law: From it’s inception it’s been an unjust law, originally crafted several generations ago to prevent all Catholic schools from receiving government dollars to educate Catholic kids. I hope the new SCOTUS hears a challenge to this law; I’m betting it would be overturned because it discriminated based on religion and is completely obsolete! The teachers unions still defend it because it’s the only horse they have to ride!

    Here’s you a little hint: When you chop down a tree, the branches all fall with it!

  38. If you read the link, you would have corrected the factual errors of your initial assertion. But instead you doubled down on your falsehood. The reason States have avoided vouchers have to do with a desire not to have state sponsored religion. Usually it is done in areas where private schools are almost entirely religious.

    Vouchers are not illegal at all at a federal level. But their legality is conditional based on the test I have described to you from the 2002 case. It is a fair test which avoids the establishment clause pitfalls you blindly ignore.

  39. Wrong. We well know of the concept of federalism. We just don’t agree with your ultra-strict version of it.

  40. Nonsense. YOU may have some notion of what federalism is (or not), but Larry-Spud’s comment is a complete repudiation of the entire concept. And to repudiate federalism is to repudiate the constitution as well. This kind of ignorance is epidemic in society today.

  41. What she said isn’t substantively different from statements made by John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, John Jay, John Quincy Adams and others during our nation’s early history. While anyone is welcome to disagree with the substance, “un-American” is going a bit far.

  42. That’s weird of you, Spuddie. We have a Catholic high school here in town that, as you would expect, teaches religious doctrines every day to their students. Yet their biology, physics, and earth science classes are the FULL EQUIVALENT to any science class offered by the five surrounding public high school districts.

    In fact, that one Catholic high school has got a waiting list from Non-Catholic parents who would be willing to have their kids exposed to Catholic doctrine just to have those quality science classes and other classes, as part of their College-Prep scene.

    Things aren’t quite as simple as you think they are, Spuddie. Times have seriously changed.

    Charter schools can compete (and in many cases do better).
    Religious and Parochial schools can compete (and in many cases do better.)
    So please leave your biases in the 20th century, and come on up to the 21st.

  43. Whatever her religious opinions might be, only her massive contributions to Republican Senators makes her “qualified” to serve as Education Secretary and so receive their votes. That clearly illustrates how little *Republicans value our children over their greed.

    *Except Republican Senators Lisa Mulkowski and Susan Collins. All Democrats voted against DeVos.

  44. It’s not hard to figure out that Betsy DeVoss’s goal “to advance God’s kingdom” is to advance a conservative evangelical agenda. So as a Jew, I would be paying for schools who will try to convert me and believe I’m going to Hell, because I don’t accept Jesus as my savior.

    There are Orthodox Jews who send their children to private Jewish Day Schools who support vouchers, that think DeVoss will help them too. I am not convinced.

    There is a misperception that our nation’s founders were Christian. Many of them were Deists.

  45. Read my comment below. Religious schools should be privately funded. DeVoss can fund all the religious schools she wants to with her own money, but not with the public’s money. I think DeVoss is interested in furthering Christianity. I don’t think that Jewish or Muslim schools would get money from DeVoss. They will probably have to sue her.

    The non-religious charter schools are crony capitalism at its worst. It is private for profit companies making money off of our children with the help of the state.

  46. He means the National Education Association, Einstein, not the National Endowment for the Arts.

  47. No…but according to #45, if you’re a neurosurgeon, you can run the Department of Housing and Urban Development! At least the wacko in the White House believes so…

  48. Actually, this is another example of #45’s incompetence. Neither he nor most of his cabinet truly understand the constitution. Granted, some of our early forefathers were extremely religious, but when they wrote the constitution, it states clearly “freedom of religion”.

  49. Dangerous incompetent ideologues failing upward is the theme of pretty much all of of Trump’s appointments. The few exceptions I can think of are Mattis for Defense and Tillerson for State. The only remotely normal ones out of a veritable “short bus” of picks.

  50. I agree. I feel better with the most recent appointments to the National Security Council, now if Steve Bannon would just be eliminated, I’d feel a whole lot safer.

  51. The ironic thing is the sanest, best qualified person in the Cabinet is the one who uses the nickname “Mad Dog”

    Bannon is one those people who, if he got hit by a bus, I would send a case of beer to the driver. The guy is beyond contempt.

  52. So…you’re an astronomer (wannabe) and still believe in the biblical gawd. That’s interesting to say the least. The two actual astronomer’s I know are agnostics as am I. I thank God at least once a month for giving me the wisdom to see him as the cruel, petty, phoney, sonofabitch of a monster he seems to be.

  53. “. . . but they also teach your child to memorize 50 Bible Verses every year, including the creationist Genesis 1:1, to train your child in valuable fast-paced memorization skills. (And also to promote ethical decision-making skills).” Wow. Ordinary domestic cats can learn up to 70 words / phrases. I was blessed with two extraordinary feline companions, recently passed away, who proved much better company than my West Michigan orthodox-zealot human blood relatives. And, by the way, I come from a long line of Bible verse memorizors. Every one of them intent on literal interpretation — except for the parts that “obviously” aren’t meant to be taken literally, or no longer apply, or whatever excuse it takes to pick and choose.

  54. I wonder if the American taxpayers even understand what’s happening at all. They certainly do not if they get their news from Faux News or channels owned by Simpson Broadcasting.

    Republicans have never been happy with public eduction from the beginning. Under a capitalist system you pay for what you want and what you can afford, with no help from the government (you see, that’s the evil socialism — even fire depts and police depts used to be private). If you can’t afford private (usually Christian) schools then there are always ditches that you can dig or openings in slaughterhouses or jobs breaking big rocks into smaller rocks. An educated populace does not serve the interests of the fascists/oligarchs/plutocrats/theocrats (aka Republicans/conservatives) or kakistocrats like President Putin’s deranged pet orange baboon. That’s because an educated populace understands how to use critical thinking skills, is more apt and able to engage in civics, and therefore the evil immoral plutocratic machinations of the Repugnicans become apparent and people begin to see that GOP propaganda & misinformation outsets like Faux News, Breitbart, Rush, Hannity, Drudge, InfoWars, etc., are all just mind manipulators for the uneducated so that reich-wing propagandists can manipulate them into voting for Republicans. This, along with voter suppression, gerrymandering, countless ways of cheating, and now even assistance from Russia is how they are able to win elections despite the majority of voters being against them.

    This year alone Der Orangefarbene Fotzegrabber reduced funding to the Dept of Education by over $10 billion in his 2018 budget so that that theocratic witch and fundie dominionist whackjob Betsy DeVos can continue the Rethugnican destruction of the public school system and accelerate its devolution into charter, religious fundamentalist KKKristian, and home “skooling” instead (because everybody knows Repugnicans need more ignorant, uneducated, easily-frightened lemmings to vote for them because that’s what makes up their base).

    When it comes to spreading the money around to Muslim, Jewish, or heaven forbid… maybe even LGBT-inclusive schools, I suspect as soon as that happens the fundies will realize their mistake and suddenly change their minds. It won’t be any different the than day when science becomes able to determine the sexual orientation of a baby in the womb and the fundies realize sexual orientation is not a choice one makes . Just wait… They’ll run screaming with their hair on fire and suddenly drop their opposition to abortion.

  55. Yep you’re right. You might also want to check out my reply above to Gipper1234.

  56. I do not disagree, however I think that Prince was a SEAL and totally not part of CIA deniable operations……(Cough) Whereas DeVos has absolutely no experience in this whatsoever.

  57. Wow. As much as I do not agree with “Spudie’s” worldview, I think he hit on one of the most valid points in this entire comment section regarding the constitutionality of vouchers [ie., Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639 (2002)]. As a Christian, and one who is inclined to believe in the worldview of our Christian founders (Madison, Adams, Jefferson, etc), I have this to say: (Very) arguably, the single document that had the greatest impact upon the wording of our constitution was from the famous English jurist and scholar, William Blackstone – Blackstone’s Commentaries. Found within these commentaries are quotes from the Old Testament ALL OVER THE PLACE. In this regard, to deny the spirit and letter of our constitution to have been influenced by a Judeo-Christian worldview, I think one has to be and remain willfully blind. It would be awesome if the Supreme Court ever awakened to this reality….but I’m not holding my breath (certainly will pray on it though!)….Come Lord Jesus!

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