Will Betsy DeVos Expand the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

She keeps finding new ways to fail our kids.


Comments: 197

  1. In a cabinet of Gross misfits
    Ms Betsy is clearly the pits,
    No student of Race,
    School reforms in bad place,
    Made lots of errors, but no hits!

  2. Public education from pre-school to college is a right, not a privilege. It is a sacred compact to each other and our children.

    Until we embed this into our constitution, public education will remain under assault by forces promoting privatization.

  3. Raise your hand; if you like to amend 2nd amendment to include K12+4 education as a right as well.

  4. My daughter went to a high school in New York. Variance in racial discipline is exacerbated by links with another area where minorities are often excluded. Advanced Placement classes. This high school had AP students in all AP classes, and they were in my memory all white. Katie said if she was in the hall after the bell rang, nobody said a word since she was an AP student, but if the hoi polloi were in the hall after the bell rang discipline followed. My daughter noted the reality the process was self-reinforcing, the AP students considering themselves superior to the other students.

  5. "Will Betsy DeVos Expand the School-to-Prison Pipeline?"

    Why would she? If schools are "hardened" and teachers armed, the schools will take on many attributes of prisons.

    The fifth estate needs to stay on top of this because it has much wider implications.

    First, DeVos said on 60 Minutes that "she had asked" to head the commission that will look into school safety. Hardening schools to look like airports will be a very lucrative bonanza to the security industry. DeVos' brother Erik Prince has a history of involvement with security firms. How much would he stand to gain?

    Secondly, DeVos, Trump and the rest of them insist that armed teachers must be expert, adept, proficient, or some similar adjective, with firearms. Why such stringent standards for handling weapons in schools, when anything goes outside of school?

    Thirdly, why only schools? Logically, other spaces where people gather need to be hardened - shopping malls, theaters, churches, airport ticketing and baggage claim areas, commuter rail terminals....

    This is where I'm going: any or all of these measures encroach on our freedom to come and go as we please, and make the US look like the kind of police state that Americans were once told we abhorred.

    Before we trade away our freedom of movement for the questionable right of individuals to bear weapons of war, we must put our collective foot down and say a loud and insistent NO!

  6. More evidence that very rich people make very bad government officials.

  7. Of all Trump’s senior people, I’m not the most ardent of DeVos supporters on professionalism grounds, and I have serious problems with Sessions as AG, freighted as he is with clearly demonstrated attitudes regarding race that I find both deeply offensive and very dangerous. However, this column by Michelle is one-sided, undoubtedly will be popular with the commentariat, but is needful of SOME balance. I guess I’m elected to provide it.

    Clearly, the lady is largely oblivious of race; but many Republicans are, and not just the wealthy ones. The reasoning goes that we spend altogether too much time, energy and other resources agonizing over “identity” in this country, and this results in assumptions that outcomes in life are directly associated with identity; when instead we should pay greater attention to what binds us not divides us, and growth-goals that are universal. Hence, in a more balanced view of these convictions, the “school-to-prison pipeline” has more to do with poverty and family dysfunction than it has to do with complexion. While many can’t avoid recognition that family dysfunction often is a function of poverty, and that poverty in our country is disproportionately non-white, many believe that by focusing on helping people overcome poverty irrespective of race (or generally identity), we do greater, more strategically sustainable, good.

  8. Her failure to put together a competent organization, the primary responsibility of any executive, is just another example of why she shouldn't be in that job.

  9. To put a finer point on it, let's just say that every cabinet secretary Trump has appointed is the least qualified, most inappropriate choice for that position. The column is biased, but largely justified by the facts of the matter. I'd say DeVos is the least qualified of all, she doesn't have a clue about much of anything. Her gibberish is far more transparent than her colleagues, as is her insider profiteering. She's a partisan hack, and a placeholder for the destructive agenda of her party and president. With settled science under siege she's the worst thing that could happen to American scholarship. She's only slightly more coherent than Sarah Palin though equally happy to feed at the public trough.
    By the way, Richard, nobody elected you.

  10. Don, you might consider a remedial course in English, if they offer them in North Carolina. There wasn't anything ambiguous about any part of my comment, yet you seem to have gotten a lot of it wrong. For instance, "dysfunctional family" is almost universally accepted as a euphemism for a broken family, or one where one or both parents abuses or ignores the children for any number of reasons.

  11. One thing that strikes me about Trump's cabinet is how inhumanly emotionless they act whenever they're confronted over their lies, their racism, their lack of qualifications, their personal histories of perfidy and greed. It's as if they've all taken a tranquilizer before speaking to an audience or sitting for a TV interview. I wouldn't be surprised if Trump's anti-public housing director and fine dining maven, Ben Carson MD, also doubles as Dr. Feelgood. I can't think of any other explanation for either their kowtowing to Boss Trump or their attitude of bored disdain for regular people.

    Betsy DeVos is so clueless that she told Lesley Stahl that the widespread criticism of her feels just like root canal surgery, before admitting that she herself has never personally undergone root canal surgery. This mentally and emotionally anesthetized woman seems never to have experienced a painful or insightful moment in her whole life. Any normal person would have resigned in embarrassment by now.

    And Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, as a just-released video shows, was booed for the entire duration of a talk he gave at UCLA last month. He didn't appear at all fazed that people can't stand him; he just kept talking and talking, acting bemused by the catcalls all around him..

    Sarah Sanders is another one, lying her way through every presser with that trademark scowl and spooky flat affect.

    To paraphrase Bob Dylan, there's an idiot wind blowing every time they move their mouths.

  12. I think it is more than just anesthetizing themselves. I believe that all of these people have a bizarre character flaw. That is to satisfy their sadistic lust by sticking a finger in the eyes of people outside their tribe. They get off on watching their opponents squirm. That is their drug of choice. That they look and act comatose on the outside is a cover to hide the evil inside. Make no mistake their endorphins are flowing as they see the look of disbelief and incomprehension on the faces of the people they are addressing. That is why Mnuchin could sand there and take it all in.

  13. An apt comparison to Dylan's brilliant lyrics.

  14. Karen....they simply lack human consciences.

    Their thoughtlessness, cruelty and malevolence flow naturally when their is no conscience, no sense of compassion, no sense of right and wrong holding them back.

    Sociopaths R Us: GOP 2018

  15. I give Lesley Stahl some credit for challenging some of the nonsense De Vos was peddling.

    De Vos' response time and again was to put on a fake smile and lie some more. The closest thing to admitting she was wrong was when Stahl asked her if she had ever gone to a "failing" school and she said, "I've never gone intentionally. Maybe I should."

    With due (dis)respect to Rick Perry and Tom Price, Betsy De Vos is the WORST cabinet appointment Trump has made.

  16. Seems DeVos is unconcerned with the less served kids in our country, more than happy to write them off as irrelevant, a drain on all of us. This is completely unsurprising. I think she should be required to spend a day in the unheated and filthy classrooms that we require of our most important assets, the kids. We need to undo the rule by the very wealthy (and seemingly uneducated) who have no awareness or care for the forgotten and neglected.

  17. What better way to share the spoils with her brother.Surely his companies are lining up to be the private prison keepers of choice.

  18. DeVos barely squeaked by in her confirmation hearing. She has zero qualifications for this job and I find it appalling that she has yet to visit a single underperforming school in Michigan since she took office.

    The only thing Miss Betsy wants is for private religious schools to take over K-12 education and leave the poor public systems to fend for themselves, or to shut down altogether.

    Betsy "Clueless" DeVos as Secretary of Education and Ben "This Is Harder Than I Thought" Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

    The Dysfunctional Duo.

  19. In this administration its more like the Dysfunctional Dozen. Scary stuff.

  20. hard to decide which Cabinet member is the most frightening, but she can't be ruled out, by any means.

  21. Great reporting - looks as though DeVos may be rattled by the impending imprisonment of her brother, Erik Prince (Seychelles). Or perhaps the threat of grizzlies. To improve our schools, we should look to the most successful public schools in the world, which are in Finland. Children do not begin school until they are 7, and only "broad guidelines" for curriculum are followed. Students take one mandatory standardized test at 16, and are not "measured" at all during their first 6 years of education. Teachers share the same high status with doctors and lawyers, and schools are 100% funded by the government. Finnish kids come out at the TOP when measured by international standards in science, reading and math. About 93% graduate from high school, with 66% going on to college and 43% to vocational schools.
    I got this information from businessinsider.com. Oh - and Finland spends 30% LESS per student than we do. There you go, Betsy. Let's try it.

  22. Finland is a small all white nation where everyone speaks the same language. You can't really compare them to the U.S.

  23. Finland's immigrant population is over 6%; in the U.S., it's 13%.

  24. Yes, the standard conservative response--anything that works elsewhere can't work because ... well, just because we are the U.S. and they aren't.

  25. Seems like a reasonable conclusion to draw if schools are no longer able to remove extremely disruptive students they’re increasing the chances of dangers.

  26. The biggest attack on DeVos came when she described historically black colleges as “pioneers when it comes to school choice.” It surprised me that this was a scandal.

    Black colleges include schools of the quality of top liberal arts colleges, such as Morehouse, Spellman, and Howard. It is true that these all-black schools were a product of segregation. But it is also true that the finest black educators chose to respond to segregation with schools of their own. These schools indeed represented a choice -- to pursue excellence apart. And they indeed were created by pioneers in education who had made a choice.

    Literally Ms. DeVos was correct. The all black schools were created by top educators who were making a choice. But she glossed over the matter of discrimination, and there in lies the rub. Whether or not she was literally accurate, she was insensitive to matters of discrimination. Was that racist? I'd say it was subtle and the vehement attacks on her were way out of proportion. They were purposeful exaggerations by those otherwise against Vos. Honest observers wondered what was the big deal.

  27. "Whether or not she was literally accurate, she was insensitive to matters of discrimination. Was that racist?'

    Dunno Mrs. Bunker, maybe you should ask Archie?

  28. Betsy DeVos could be a nice, well-meaning Christian lady; however, she believed that her significant financial contributions to charter schools qualified her for the undermining the finances of our nation's public school systems and the "end run" around our teachers' unions.

    Money doesn't make you qualified, correct, or even capable of acing an interview with Lesley Stahl.

    Betsy DeVos' egg timer is synchronized with the end of Donald Trumps' first-and-only term.

    Our nation's school boards, administrators, and PTA's ARE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY; and I refuse to be cajoled by Republican leaders who belittle our institutions and our professionals because they want to de-democratize America and replace it with privatized corporations that they can control to access taxpayer dollars for public services.

    If parents want to put their children in the private schools that sprung from the end of public school segregation, then it's on you and your pocket book. I will never give up on democratic institutions.

  29. Betsy DeVos is an expression of our right wing culture that is currently in control off our federal government. I was astonished to see her try to stay on message. It is essentially a message holding survival of the fittest as the law of the land. It was also embarrassing to hear her described as a Christian. Christians are not so near sighted and selfish as is Mrs. DeVos

  30. It is unfair to the country that the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, does not even have any college education in education!

    She determines the knowledge base of the children of this country, yet she has no formal education or experience regarding any part of education itself!

    How dare Donald Trump to hand us that for our children - at any level - preschool, grade school, high school, or college, someone heading the education of this country, with no clue.

    This is an insult to teachers, students, parents, everyone striving to be educated or provide the means to it.

    Instead, is this all about defunding public schools for religion? Vouchers for parochial schools? School choice is one thing, but being educating in what you’re doing would only be sensible. But then again, look at who made the appointment - at our kids and grandkids expense. He has no clue, either.

  31. Nowhere in this piece do you actually discuss whether or not giving Cruz repeated passes under the Obama policy may have lead to his easy access to guns. People forget that when you fail to deal with violent or trouble making students the biggest losers are the other students who pay the price of having to try to learn in a violent or disruptive environment. And those children are often minorities as well.

  32. The point is that the Obama policy was not why Cruz was "given a pass".

  33. Sec. DeVos's refusal to acknowledge the discriminatory disciplinary practices in many schools that have been well documented is consistent with the policies of the entire Trump administration.

    The Civil Rights Division of DOE is instead busy insuring due process rights for accused sexual assailants. I'm all for due process, but the Secretary seems to have forgotten that discrimination in school discipline violates the due process rights of black kids in those underperforming school she has yet to visit.

    None of this is surprising. Sec. DeVos might very well be a nice person, but this 'nice' person is pushing an agenda to destroy unions and transfer huge amounts of public money into private hands.

    Sec. DeVos, this nice billionaire who can't understand why there is so much anger around her policies seems unable or unwilling to see the trail of pain and destruction that she's creating under the false banner of school reform.

    Sec. DeVos was quite clear on one point when she said "the money shouldn't go to a school system, it should follow the student." So once that student is disconnected from a public school a vast new market is created.

    While that market is currently served by many religious schools, she intends for it to grow and the for profit education corporations to eventually take over. Your local public school is the first stage of a democracy and under her leadership it is slowly being destroyed.

  34. The DeVos interview was very scary but this article is even worse. The racism and bigotry are what keep Trump supporters loving Trump (see PA rally on Saturday) and the Trump administration going in spite of internal conflicts.
    DeVos is so massively unqualified. Hope that her incompetence prevents her from actually making any of her 'reforms' see the light of day.

  35. It is not casual sarcasm to question whether DeVos is demented to the point of madness, or just profoundly stupid. I don't know. There is no way to be absolutely certain. Of course, some physicians would diagnose it is a remarkably symmetrically distribution of both maladies.

    DeVos is as deeply knowledgeable about education as Ben Carson is about housing and urban development, or Rick Perry is about nuclear physics. But that is the intended point: the deconstruction of the administrative state is code for the deconstruction of democracy, what little we have of it.

    The current administration is a mental health crisis in need of the voter's attention on Nov. 6th to deliver them over to those medical facilities most capable of addressing their dire needs.

  36. I was not aware of DeVos's interview with Lesley Stahl. And I am speechless. Just today alone readers have read both Ms Goldberg's column and the Times' piece - actually several pieces - on Trump's back-tracking of his "consider-the-source pledge" to put an end to these mass shootings, particularly at our schools, targeting innocent children and educators and every other employee within firing range.

    So correct me if I am misinterpreting what I am reading, very possible with the overload of unsettling news 24/7. There will be no banning of assault weapons. And the government is encouraging the "best" teachers to arm themselves to protect their students. Add to the toxic mix, Ms DeVille, er, DeVos, wanting to eliminate President Obama's directive to protect minority students. But, but, wasn't it a deranged, white kid, who was merely "expelled" from another school rather than going to juvie, who pulled the trigger in Parkland, Florida?

    The criminality occurring in this administration has got to end. There has to be a point when money and corrupt power no longer control a democracy. Where is justice? Who will defend us from these wretches called Trump, DeVos, Pruitt, Zinke, Carson, et al? It seems as if this paradigm is becoming more ominous and treacherous with each passing day.

  37. Ms DeVille; er, DeVos wins the Internet for today.

  38. If DeVos wanted to help kids in schools she could have used her money to feed hungry kids, upgrade school buildings and provide school supplies rather than build private schools that cherry pick students. Somehow there's money for guns in schools but not to pay teachers a decent wage. Also, she is woefully uneducated about public schools and what could be done to improve them. Just another rich person trying to force her beliefs about what is best on the rest of us.

  39. Stamford's solution to school segregation:
    "The district achieves this goal by frequently reexamining attendance boundaries for neighborhood schools and weighting magnet school lotteries by both educational disadvantage (balancing the percentage of disadvantaged students at each school) and geographic zone (allowing preference for students from certain zones where neighborhood schools are overenrolled or imbalanced)"
    https://tcf.org/content/report/stamford-public-schools/

    Magnet schools, yep.

  40. Using the phrase, "school-to-prison-pipeline" is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of teachers and administrators who work tirelessly in underfunded, high needs schools while opening doors of opportunity - not doors of prison cells. Betsy DeVos may continue to avoid visiting such schools, probably out of the guilt she feels for exacerbating the sub-standard conditions by siphoning desperately needed public money into private and parochial schools. But I would suggest the author spend one week substituting in a high needs middle school or high school in Detroit or Baltimore, or DC or the Bronx, before she decides to promote that offensive phrase and foolish notion that public schools offer little more to minority students that ticket to prison.

  41. After one year on the job, Secretary DeVos still does not what she is talking about. Who knew that education was so complicated? Steep learning curve.

  42. The DeVos interview was a shameful display of the inadequacy of the entire Trump administration. DeVos was, and continues to be, woefully unprepared to be Secretary of Education. Smiling her way through the 60 Minutes interview could not hide the fact that she knows absolutely nothing about the job for which she is appointed.

  43. Ikr! The same way she cringingly smiled through the confirmation hearings!

  44. With the proposed arming of teachers and the widely accepted premise that blacks are disciplined at a far greater and more sinister rate than whites the recipe for a disaster is brewing. The republican party has taken the place of yesterday's "white citizen's council".

  45. Is there any twisting path that Republicans won't follow in order to blame President Obama for something? Senator Rubio's attempt to hang a school shooting on a "Dear Colleague" letter is just the latest desperate grasp at a straw.

    The data clearly show that students of color end up getting arrested and jailed for offenses that land white kids in after-school detention. The "Dear Colleague" letter was a reminder that the statistics were lopsided. The letter did not instruct schools and resource officers to overlook problems; it suggested that they apply disciplinary measures evenly to all students.

    Connecting imaginary dots to a school shooting is an attempted distraction and does nothing to move us toward a solution.

  46. For people "like" Secretary De Vos to recognize, much less discuss race would require them to admit the degree to which their race has played in accumulating vast amounts of wealth, and how the systemic disparities of education and lifestyle upon which their existence rest contribute to violence.

    Because for Secretary De Vos and her ilk to acknowledge that historical set of facts, they would need to stare into the horror of our country's construction vis a vis slavery, the Middle Passage and so many other inconvenient facts.

    Speaking as someone who presents as "white," who has gone to great lengths to educate myself about these racialized inequities, looking at our country's history, not as the dominant culture has massage it into a "safe" place is to induce a form of psychosis.

    Instead of looking at those ugly facts, white people like Secretary De Vos do everything they can to avoid and look away from the horrific facts and elect, as we've seen, someone like Mr. Trump who can voice their unbearable discomfort with the truth.

  47. Ms. Devos's longtime support for efforts to undermine public education is revealed as prophetic: she knew that the Senate might at any time knowingly confirm an incompetent to run the Department of Education.

  48. There just aren’t words for how inappropriate Betsy DeVos is for the job of Secretary of Education. She wants a system that only educates people who are going to succeed anyway. She has absolutely nothing to do for people who need a helping hand. And her brother founded Blackwater, a private military training organization, so naturally she wants guns in schools.

  49. Her brother Eric is not heading a "military training organization", (how about letting our military do that?), he runs a for guns hire mercenary business, that's right, hired killers....and his company has a horrifying record. Neither of these people should be trusted and neither are worthy of being called an American. They do not represent American values. Both of them seem paranoid, scared of the public and and present themselves as Christian....LOL! Mercenary & Christian are not compatible values. Money grubbers who seek to control others because they feel they are superior...LOL. Amway (the original illegal pyramid scheme) anyone? Both of them need to go away and stop interfering in our lives.

  50. This Imposter Secretary of Education holds the "distinction" of being the first Cabinet officer, in the country's history, to have required for confirmation the vote of the Vice-President to break a Senatorial tie. Given her dismal, polarized functioning in that critical position for the past year, it is accurate to now declare that since a near-flunking performance at her confirmation hearing, everything has been going downhill in her stewardship of that department.

  51. If all else fails in Ms. DeVos lack of experience, training or even insight in dealing with the desperate need to make our schools safer, the Trump policy of arming non teachers and various and sundry school "staff", we could see some very regrettable mishaps with Ms. DeVos tin-eared total lack of interest, concern, much less knowledge of the racial issues children of color, especially black children, are already subject to in our schools. This is going to end badly; Trump's proposal and Ms. DeVos "leading the charge" to protect schools from gun violence.
    Please, please don't let her brother, Eric Prince, who did such a godawful job in Irag that his business had to be shut down, be in charge of hiring security.
    The last thing we need is to keep this issue "all in the family". One from the Prince family is more than we can bear.

  52. If Betsey's brother Eric Prince takes over the probably very lucrative contract to "protect' our students & teachers I wonder how many innocent students will be murdered on campus by one/some of his out of control paid mercenaries? it will be the same quality of protection he provided for big $ in Iraq. Guns do not belong in schools and teachers should not be packing weapons on campus. It's that simple.

  53. It's a bit of warning sign when the United States Secretary of Education belongs in a special education class.

    Collapsing the American IQ for decades and decades, the Party of God, Greed and Guns has hit dumb pay dirt with Betsy 'Amway' DeVos, a Calvinistic Christian Crusader and Republican megadonor posing as a a fake educator.

    In a 2001 interview for The Gathering, a group focused on advancing Christian faith through philanthropy, Betsy DeVos and her Amway billionaire husband offered a rare public glimpse of their views. Asked whether Christian schools should continue to rely on giving—rather than pushing for taxpayer money through vouchers—Betsy DeVos replied, “There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the need in education…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.”

    "An uneducated, uninformed voter from religious fantasy land is our best supporter": GOP 2018

    Please, 'God', save America's children from this intellectual dead-end of a woman.

  54. Hear hear

  55. Did you just equate being in special ed with being ignorant and unintelligent?
    Wow.

  56. N. Peske.....I just had fun with words; I strongly recommend that you try it sometime; special education is available for you, too.

  57. It's all of a piece. Erik Prince the master mercenary, his sister Betsy DeVos - in fact there's a dynasty.*

    So sure, she's eager to put those uppity kids in prison and it has a side benefit (or sneaky purpose), they can never vote again: the new Jim Crow.

    But if that doesn't work, now they'll have guns in the classrooms (perhaps for "bears", like she said in her Congressional hearing?). And since they want teachers screened for far-right fake religion (the one that respects life before but not after birth) any "different" kids can be accidentally or purpose shot.

    It's a mistake to expect this bunch of good intentions. Inside that hair and makeup is a deeply unappealing selfishness and blindness to others.

    They're perfectly happy with the idea of eliminating, by death or prison or whatever means available, anyone who opposes their self-worshiping religion. And they take that religion very very seriously.

    When they're not worshiping themselves, they're worshiping machines of death, and organizations (mercenaries) who are efficient at eliminating their enemies.

    If there's one thing too many of us do, it's suspecting these people of hiding their good intentions. What's hidden, my opinion, is some publicly unacceptable bad intentions.

    * https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/default/news/2017/01/23/296947/t... The only lives they respect are their kleptocratic colleagues and lily-white bigots.

  58. When Devos said, "I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming, Stahl suggested, "Maybe you should."

    Smiling, with the blankest look on her face, Devos responded, "Maybe I should" as if such a thought had never occurred to her before.

    In that moment, I understood that Betsy Devos, was "the empty barrel" John Kelly so meanly, unfairly and dishonestly characterized Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson as.

    That's what they all are in the Trump administration, empty barrels, rolling over anyone not of their ilk, smashing civility and accepted norms, empty of any empathy toward the people they're supposed to protect and lacking even the slightest concern for promoting the common good.

  59. Notice the weird use of 'intentionally.' Does this imply she may have visited them accidentally?

  60. It is quite clear that African American children, as a group, are treated more harshly than white children for similar offenses. That Ms. DeVos doesn’t acknowledge the empirical data is tremendously problematic.

    That said, any systemic issues that led law enforcement to overlook the Parkland school shooter must be eliminated. But safety shouldn’t be used as an excuse for prolonging or abetting racism.

  61. Actually, I think you are wrong -- looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

    It is far more likely that badly behaved white kids like Nikolas Cruz are NOT treated harshly ENOUGH -- perhaps getting a "pass" for being wealthy or white.

    Badly behaved kids steal the educations of good kids. They need to be disciplined and put into strict reform schools, absolutely regardless of race or ethnicity.

  62. Betsy DeVos came across as a blooming idiot in that interview. Whether by design or unintentional candor, she seemed to misunderstand most of the questions--or was it, willfully ignoring them?

    They say she is the most hated Cabinet member in Trumps's Confederacy of Dunces. to which I say, with good reason.

    Does it really matter if she's unintentionally ignorant or simply ignorant? If I Didn't Know Better, I would think she was mocking Lesley Stahl.

    But then it hit me: she wanted to be misunderstood in order to continue the fantasy she's not racist or driven by her self-interested agenda of privatizing public education in order to further the goals of her educational consulting company.

    The last person who should be running the Department of Education is the one person who wants to destroy it for personal gain.

    But then again, the same can be said for most of Trumps' unqualified grifter cabinet.

  63. How's racial desegregation working out in your city's public school system?

  64. Jp: since you so snarkily ask, I'd remind you that Massachusetts is a progressive state and Number One on the state rankings of education systems, according to US News and World Report, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/education

    Yes, Massachusetts had its problems with desegration back in the day, but in the town west of Boston where I live, with a highly multicultural school population, things are just fine.

    If you take the time to read the full list, you'll see your state listed at #36. Betsy DeVos has a highly publicized agenda to privatize public education, using taxpayer dollars to skim the best students off into charter schools, leaving the rest without the funding to properly educate the students. She was chosen specifically for this agenda, pushed by anti-government Republicans who want nothing more than to privatize just about everything.

  65. @Christine: I didn't see anything in that article about desegregated public schools.
    No doubt your education system is great, but that wasn't the question.

  66. The Land Ordinance of 1785 standardized a number of issues related to land in the undeveloped “west.” This included surveying the entire area into squares of townships that were six miles on a side subdivided into thirty-six sections, each one mile on a side. The 16th section was set aside in each township for education – for building a school house and with enough land to be sold to sustain the school.

    The “Founding Fathers,” including Jefferson, understood from the colonial experience the need to educate the children and for the resources to be available to do so.

    This was also seen as part of building a sense of engagement with, and thus institutionalizing, democratic ideals by having the community govern the township, its education, and maintaining order. It was believed this engagement in local self-governance was key to the nation’s sustained success as a democracy. It had been proven during the colonial period, especially in the New England area.

    Obviously the self-entitled wealthy want “for-profit” schools. Our political system of community self-governance is democratic. Businesses are “mobile monarchies”, as my son, Justin, labeled them in his first book on scaling democracy. Of course these monarchy pretenders want to take over and eradicate this keystone to sustaining our democracy. Just as obvious, the Senate Republicans thought an ignoramus such as Betsy “Amway” DeVos would be a willing dupe and never question what she was doing to extinguish our democracy.

  67. She is actually a positive role model - demonstrating that anyone can become a cabinet secretary. Anyone.

  68. Anyone who contributes millions of dollars to the political party of their choice.

  69. And keep the job despite the total lack of intelligence or ability!

  70. She is exhibit #1 that money buys power

  71. Most schools never send a student to the police. A relatively small number of schools refer a good number of students. The problem is mostly local. Schools in violent areas have violence problems of their own. Most Education Secretaries address nationwide problems that affect all our schools. The stated mission of the Department of Education is to "promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access." Addressing police discipline is tangential, at best, for the Department. The attack on Ms. DeVos for a non-priority issue like this is gotcha journalism.

  72. Educators all over this country warned against her appointment. She is an embarrassment - if this “administration” were capable of embarrassment.

  73. It is not a school-to-prison pipeline. It is a preschool-to-prison pipeline. Our infants, toddlers & preschool babes of color are getting suspended & expelled from their child care programs every single day. Departments of Corrections look at kindergarten reading scores to project their future budgets & beds. This Pipeline is real.

  74. Does the DOC really do that? It's not nice to cast doubt by asking you to provide your source, but it would be fascinating to have it, to see how long this(these) metric(s) have been used, and how close the correlations are.

    A while back Canada Tire found a good correlation between its card holder's creditworthiness and certain items they bought. E.g. discount motor oil=bad, felt furniture sliders=good, skull shift knob=bad, bird seed=good. As I recall, Canadian Tire had to stop using this very reliable data to make individual judgments on credit (too much information, apparently). Maybe the DOC is not as shy.

  75. As a retired Associate Commissioner of the NYC Department of Probation, I can tell you that the idea that preschool reading scores have anything to do with planning, let alone budgeting, is absurd on more levels than I can count, and one of the more bizarre things I've read.

    Operating budgets are requested a year in advance, capital budgets 5 years in advance. Statistically, these tests probably do a middling job of projecting reading scores 5 years in advance, let alone crime rates 10 years hence. And statistical instruments developed within the criminal justice system to forecast recidivism on existing offenders have weak predictive value, at best.

  76. "School to prison pipeline" is inaccurate and blames schools for problems in families. We should perhaps instead be saying, "The womb to prison pipeline". That phrase makes it clear where the problem lies -- in families and communities which produce kids who are unable to function normally in school.

    While schools can certainly do some things to help children who've been raised in very unhealthy settings, we have to stop expecting schools to be free daycare centers, providing babysitting for disruptive kids. THis isn't fair to other children, who dont' have behavior problems, and who are at school to learn.

    When I was in public school, that's what we did, learn. Kids who weren't there to learn or who had serious behavior problems were taken out of the classroom, and the rest of us were not prevented from getting an education because some kids were out of control. We need to return to this process.

    Disruptive dysfunctional kids can be helped, but this can't be at the cost of the others' education. Take them out of class and work with them separately until they can go to class to learn. IF this isn't possible, please don't blame the school, because this problem didn't begin in school.

  77. Did you not read the statistics about difference s in discipline between students of different races?

    You must have also walked ,to school 10 miles barefoot in the snow.

  78. You walked ten miles to school didn't you? And uphill. Both ways.

  79. The author correctly points out minority children are disciplined more harshly than white for the same infraction. Your take is to blame the minority.

  80. The strangest thing is that rich people who are unqualified for a given position and know it, or at least realize it very quickly, continue to seek office and authority. This leads them to end up in situations like the 60 Minutes interview with DeVos. This has to be a personal humiliation for her, and her family. Her friends watched and are aware of the ineptitude she displayed. Why did she or do they subject themselves to this kind of ordeal. After the disaster are her confirmation hearing, didn't she know that no good would come from this pursuit of political power.

  81. I don't know, Davos family and friends are probably inept and clueless too.

  82. I think you underestimate her sense of mission and the delusions of those who only believe Fox and Breitbart and the alt-right. Any pro-gun pro-charter school pro-discrimination people will be glad she's out there on the "front lines" facing down the "liberal elites" on "fake news".

    They will regard Leslie Stahl as a fixture of the "deep state".

    Excepting reasonable open minds, even in the service of education, is revealing the limits of communication with people who have closed their minds and prefer their definition of "Christianity" which has little if anything to do with the Christ of the Gospels.

  83. Expecting, not excepting. I see other commenters agree with me. I would recommend that in trying to get through, one not use "Dunning Kruger" which is an insider kind of term.

    The beginning of knowledge is knowing what one doesn't know, but those troubled with DK will dismiss you as stuck-up.

  84. Not that I need much persuading (she is, after all, a Trump appointee), but I was absolutely gobsmacked watching her on 60 minutes. She gives an entirely new meaning to the adjective 'clueless'.

  85. Trying to keep a classroom full of diverse learners focused and productive is part talent, part experience, part quality planning, and part determination. When a teacher has spent hours preparing a lesson that is going well but is repeatedly interrupted by one student who cannot refrain from behavior that distracts others it is stressful and frustrating for everyone in the room.

    So, what happens next is crucial. Teachers are human. They are frustrated when their lessons must struggle against disruptive behavior. They are not psychiatrists, nor social workers, nor magicians. Yet they must function as all three sometimes in trying to manage behavior. With experience, good teachers develop winning strategies, but there are always tough cases that just are so enervating. These tough cases need to be handled by a committee of professional student support personnel with a wholistic approach to all the outside factors driving the behavior and to doing everything possible to handle discipline in-house.

    Sadly, this type of school personnel (social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors) are rarely full time, stretched way too thin and grossly underfunded, especially in schools populated by students of color. DeVos would siphon even more funding away for her "choice" schemes, sadly raising the likelihood that, absent the appropriate expertise and capacity, students are simply suspended. She admitted has not even visited a struggling school! Alas, the pipeline may well fill up.

  86. "Diverse learners", that's pretty good.
    One class clown is a tradition. 10 Class clowns makes for a catastrophic situation.

  87. Trump targeting Europe with anti-competitive trade sanctions is indeed odd, and note only since European markets are relatively free and open, but as Professor Krugman also points out, because they are so out of step with his almost otherwise consistently racist policies. To anyone else who missed Leslie Stahl's interview with Davos, Michelle Goldberg gives a great recap in this article, and here's a hint of the plot: Bigots needn't worry their hateful heads about Trump's bizarre aberration from racism on the single issue of European trade, because Betsy Davos more than makes up for it with blatantly racist policies in school discipline:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/opinion/devos-school-prison-pipeline....®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article

  88. Err, this comment was actually intended for Paul Krugman's column, and not only that, it doesn't make much sense here at all. Oh well, at least I got the chance to show I could spell and use "not only that" correctly, more or less.

  89. Hey Gary, well at least when you goof up you are quick to admit it. Not only not withstanding.

  90. Betsy DeVos is utterly unqualified for her position, being ignorant of the laws and policies she is to implement. However it is critical to remember that she is also driven by her extreme evangelical faith which seeks to undermine public education in order to enhance and perpetuate religiously-based education. Trump’s giving of the Secretary of Education post to her was, not only the reward for her financial support, it was intended to make Trump’s so-called Christian base happy. Our children and the secular rule of law and education are all the worse for it.

  91. DeVoss's level of incompetence, ignorance, inexperience and downright stupidity is breathtaking. I couldn't stomach her interview on 60 Minutes and had to turn it off. How could anyone with an IQ over 70 take what this woman says seriously? But Trump only hires the "best" people. Right.

    Her idea of making schools better is it defund schools that aren't doing well. That's like saying we wont feed sick people and only allow healthy people to eat. Then the sick people will die and that gets rid of the problem.

    She has never taught a class! She has no training in education! She admits that she doesn't even visit troubled schools! What does she do?

    DeVoss is to education as Trump is to the truth. The two are completely disconnected. No wonder he likes her. Neither has a clue.

    How can she address school discipline issues if she can't even help kids learn to read? DeVoss is as big an embarrassment as Pruitt and just as damaging to society. Her incompetence hurts kids today. Pruitt will hurt them later in life.

  92. With Trump's cabinet, appoint a clown and get a circus. Inept is the norm.

  93. Betsy DeVos' habit of suddenly smiling oddly as she speaks her gibberish is an intentional habit that sends unintended signals. She's delivering falsehoods, but the constant smiling, bordering on a sneer, is a vain attempt to give what she is saying the veneer of truth and candor. If it feels vaguely familiar, it's because it's also something Sarah Huckabee Sanders does on a regular basis.

    Most people who spend time out in nature where wild animals roam have been taught not to show their teeth when confronted by a threatening animal -- that the act of smiling, to an animal, isn't seen as friendliness, but rather an aggressive threat, the baring of teeth.

    Poor Betsy thinks she's charming us with her smile, not realizing it has the opposite effect on a primal level. If you think about it, it's also a habit Carter Page can't tame.

    Interesting how they are all connected.

  94. Nothing charming about Betsy DeVos at all....the creepy weird fake smile, she scares me w/ her crazy ideas and her endless greed...all based on a lack of knowledge & experience...get rid of this woman now! She is a threat to our kids and to our country's future.

  95. After discovering that his uncle Claudius killed his father, Hamlet exclaims,“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain!”
    We just saw a Hamlet production and this line stood out.

  96. It was so odd. My immediate thought was that she'd learned her pre-debut lessons extremely well. Thank you for connecting the "dots." Carter Page's smile -- and Carter Page -- is genuinely creepy!

  97. The irony of someone like Ms. DeVos being confirmed as Secretary of Education by the republicans in the senate says as much about them as it does about her. Once the nightmare of the Trump administration and this GOP congress passes - and pass it will - the things that will be said about them will make what has been written about James Buchanan seem like high praise.

  98. Thank you for citing James Buchanan. As I've learned (to my horror), he was the founding father of all things dark and ugly: the plot to destroy democracy.

  99. Your confident words, "and pass it will," gave me a brief, but noticeable sense of relief. Thanks!

  100. Please keep up the good work, Ms. Goldberg. Excellent.

  101. Minority children suffer more than anyone else from a refusal to remove violently disruptive students from class. Statistically, minority students are more likely to attend school with each other, so allowing someone who hurts a teacher or another student to stay in the classroom because he is a minority is likely to disrupt the education of many other minority students.

  102. Lousy public education, which we see paired up with low-income neighborhoods in low-income states- like so many here in Miss.- simply becomes another self-defeating prophecy, cheating the country, and the student out of decent, predictable results.
    And also, where does our social (racial) lack of unity come from anyway?
    If we do not share anything socially- and public education gives us the chance to repair divisiveness on a generational basis- then where are we going?
    What hope do we have that things will improve?
    Here in Miss. we can see the plain result of failure in this regard.
    Back fifty years ago, when public education was integrated, so many white families here opted to pay for private church-schools rather that subject their children to the social integration of public schools.
    And what has been accomplished here?
    Instead of keeping standards high for every student- regardless of low familial income and poor pre-school preparation- we have more Jim Crowe economic segregation and way too much lousy public school performance.
    And then we see the plan take form.
    Just another part of the police-state, managing the school-to-prison pipeline which will keep our private contract prison system paying somebody very well.

  103. Seems obvious for every SRO in our schools there is a need for a defense arbitrator to represent kids being disproportionately singled out for serve discipline. DeVos and Trump are refusing to recognize a common occurrence and in fact actively seeking to make it worse.

    Arming teachers will only escalate this problem and lead to tragedy.

  104. In New York City, the transfer of school safety officers to the police department nearly two decades ago receives some of the credit for persistent reports of the school-to-prison pipeline. Educators have called for various reforms to the system. But debates about the pipeline aside, it should be clear that disciplinary rules have absolutely nothing to do with the kind of violence we've seen across the country in mass shootings. Oh well, Devos will be heading up the task force to address school violence, so I guess we don't have to worry that anything will be accomplished.

  105. I can not understand why the US, as (one of) the most powerful and wealthiest countries on earth, is going down the road to a country with social destruction.

    Drugs, sectatrian churches, surveillance, guns, etc. There is no social safety net, but there
    is hire and fire culture (just making people sick instead of productive), "guns to fight guns", money for military and surveillance etc. But the most horrible of all, from my point of view, is what DeVos is doing with the education system. Because without fair and good schools for everyone this spiral of social destruction will tighten.

    The US was once a forerunner of a modern country, it could be a forerunner of a modern society if it were to invest all its money into improving instead of destroying. But it seems to me its too late, Trumps administration is too good in destroying "things".

  106. ChrisQ,
    GOP: Greed over People.
    Guns, God, Gold.
    The Corp. played a long game and bought both parties.
    The huge amount of $$$ to be made from such short term grifts/thefts keeps the do-gooders too busy trying to clean-up afterwards and save those that can be helped.
    Evil is not punished and niceness is weakness.
    America got played.
    10% went along to profit, 20% applauded, 70% are shell shocked and trying to stay alive.

  107. Will Betsy DeVos Expand the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

    The short answer: as long as it is profitable, yes.

  108. DeVos is in this office because Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted her out of committee despite the ethics report tying her to student debt collection firm. (Note recent changes to rules regarding student debt collections, from which DeVos should have recused herself.) Once her nomination was released out of La Mar Alexander's committee to the general Senate, Collins and Murkowski chnaged their votes to no, another example of McConnell's manipulations. I hope that the voters in Maine, Alaska, Kentucky, and Tennesse will remember their actions because these elected officials are depending on us to forget.

  109. We need laws to ensure that future presidents can't even propose someone for a cabinet position unless he or she meets a prescribed list of qualifications in both education and experience. The Republicans never should have confirmed DeVos, Carson, Perry, Tillerson and several others. But first, they never should have been nominated. Of course, Trump would probably say they are all doing a "heck of a job."

  110. Trump can’t get honorable cabinet members in his administration. So students all over the United States will be victims of a totally inexperienced billionaire private school supporter.

  111. How such a person did reach the position as Secretary of Education remains in the dark. She has been unqualified even before she set a foot in her office. But she pretends to know the way for education in the 21st Century. Unbelievable!

  112. People often have no respect or even conception for the kinds of talent they lack, and many conservatives just aren't creative thinkers. Liberal minds tend to be the problem solvers and the creators of world changing ideas and products. Even in the world of plutocrats you can compare Bill Gates to David Koch to exemplify my point.

    For right wing conservatives, ideology will always trump ideas and discipline will trump creative thinking. This is why liberals are almost always on the right side of history- they actually steer it, conservatives are the brakes.

    It is always a matter of pushing ideologues like DeVos aside so that liberal thinkers can perpetuate progress. Bring on the midterms!

  113. Whenever Betsy DeVos is discussed, her close connection to her brother, Erik Prince, should be considered as well. They seem to share a sinister insouciance with regard to their evil intentions: she, with her deliberate attempts to destroy the public school system, and he with his efforts to facilitate the collusion of the Trump administration with Vladimir Putin in his attempt to establish back channel communications with the Russians and the Trump campaign in the Seychelles in 2016.

  114. I've been involved in civil rights issues since... I was 12. That was the JFK and LBJ era. We have progressed much... but in the wrong direction, in a draconian Dickensian direction.

  115. As a recently retired high school teacher, I warn parents: unless you live in a very wealthy school district, do not send your kids to a public school. These are nothing more than glorified baby sitting - precious little learning is done given all the disruption and discipline problems - and lucrative employment for teachers and administrators beaten down by a system that pays them, but detests them. As jobs for the masses disappear at the rate of Moore's Law, only the very well educated will have a place on the ladder; none will emerge from inner city public schools, as these kids are destined to serve...or worse. Middle class and poor parents are stuck with this situation save for the few lucky ones that win a Charter School lottery, where they will have at least a slight chance of a proper primary education. It is a sorry state of affairs. The toxic nexus of unionized teachers and graft-taking politicians has succeeded in paying for their rich lifestyles with these kids' futures. I am a beneficiary of this unholy alliance. But not a victim. My kids went to private school. You would be shocked how many others of the profession do the same. When one knows the inside, one tends to look outside.

  116. Monica,
    Let me guess...you're Republican?!
    Project and knock, but more than willing to game and harvest the benefits.
    No, you're not the victim, but I can surmise and infer as to whom might have been.
    May you enjoy the pension the Unions won for you.

  117. Not that it's any business of the simpleminded, but my people were from Peru and my household never registered in a major political party, which in the Vampire State, means no voting in primaries. Sorry to pierce your thin theory.

  118. The linkage of “clownishness” and “bigotry” resonates with much of Trumps rhetoric and style in that he always goes for the laugh as he strikes on or even creates a prejudice. “Lamb the sham” is a comedic trick to paint a perspective through laughter rather than reason. “I’d go in, even without a gun” distracts from the failure of a policy of armed guards in schools by mocking others through contrast with the inference of cowardice.
    We have to remember that the tears on a clown are just make-up, the tears on Trump’s targets are real.

  119. When Trump told us he only hires the best people he did not explain he meant individuals with the most money regardless of any other qualifications. Pubic schools will take years to recover from her lack of knowledge and absence of leadership skills.

  120. After living in the State of Michigan for 55+ years and getting to know literally dozens of retired teachers, I can't think of one who would condone what DeVos has done to our public schools. It is especially apparent around the most impoverished areas, that is those areas where students need and would benefit the most from a good public education. The day DeVos steps down, retires or gets fired will be a glorious day for Michigan and education across the entire country.

  121. Let's hope that the voters of Maine remember that it was Susan Collins' vote that first allowed Ms DeVos to advance to the position she now holds.

  122. Public schools in America, especially in cities, are dangerous places. For teachers. There is no discipline, and administrations are under pressure not to apply any. So I retired. Early. Now I home-school tutor those that can afford it. It's lucrative, I don't buy any supplies, I teach in homes, the kids pass all the mandated tests with flying colors and I remain in demand. For me and these families, winning! But for the kids stuck in those schools? No need for some rhetorical "pipeline", the combination of bad parents, greedy teacher unions, indifferent politicians and PC, the road to addiction, prison and early death is well paved.

  123. Disruptive children need to be controlled, whether through disciplinary measures, such as a trip to the principal's office, or by way of more drastic measures,i.e., suspension or explulsion. Schools and teachers are not equipped and are not intended to functionas behavioral therapy providers. You do what you can.

  124. Statistics tell us there are differences in discipline applied to whites and students of color. This is racism, therefore abhorrent.
    However, would it not be better to apply strict discipline currently weighed toward students of color to all students rather than easing standards of acceptable conduct.
    Seems to me this would take more disruptive students out of the classroom, therefore improving the environment for all students truly there to learn.

  125. Arming the teachers where this "disproportion of discipline" exists could result in an escalation of blowback from the target students.

  126. My daughter, a high senior came home one day and told me this story:
    another senior, a white male, was overheard by a teacher bragging about selling pot to a student while at school. It was immediately reported. This person, an honors, IB student, was eventually suspended after a lengthy process, but was eventually reinstated with the violation wiped from his record.
    The one he sold the pot to was an academically average female black student who was immediately suspended. Violation not expunged from record.

  127. Trump’s cabinet is filled with people like DeVos. Ben Carson at HUD, Ryan Zinke at Interior, Rick Perry at Energy, and Scott Pruitt at EPA, along with DeVos and the GOP army of flacks lack the competence to manage government agencies. But that’s the point. Their purpose is to destroy functioning government as a reality and an idea.

    The oligarchs hate anyone telling them that their lives and wealth may have any limits. A democratically elected government is the greatest threat to their status and power. Gated communities, tinted windows, and private everything—schools, planes, health care, islands—are not enough to keep the proles at bay. The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling granting money the power to speak has privatized our elections.

    The only thing left is government. We might think these leaders in the Executive Branch, elected to Congress, and appointed to the federal bench as inept, but they are doing the job of debasing government institutions. It’s a sick joke that these clowns are making, but only the oligarchs are laughing.

  128. Yes sir, you have nailed it. The stated goal, at least per the repellent Steve Bannon, himself financed by the billionaire Mercer family, was to destroy the administrative state. Who else but the oligarchs would profit from that? No one.

  129. You are right. They are doing what they were put in place to do, and it's sickening.


  130. Well, obviously David, the schools have not been functioning very well before Trump was elected since this "pipeline" was already in place long before that.

  131. We would be so much better off had a glib life long politician become Education Secretary. She would spouted a bunch of very caring pablum then we could all look away as our schools continue to fail.

  132. The smiling clown show and its mantra, "doing-good-for-children" facepaints the blue funk of denial, America's new approach to problems. Rethink Trump's methods, the pillar of his authority and policy, his cabinet's ideology, the belief system of his supporters—even his media coverage is installed and garrisoned by denial. Denial is assertion, deflection, diversion, and projection. Its lies and fantasies, blame-claims and bias can be aggressive or defensive, direct or hidden. Fundamentally it means refusing to accept the truth and downplaying or exaggerating consequences. Politically, it's cover.

    Climate change is denied. Holocaust denial says the events of genocide didn't happen. Colleges and men deny sexual misconduct. Denial twists logic: we are told the best means for remembering the horrors of slavery is to honor men on iron pedestals who fought to preserve it!

    Denial pulls double duty: the meme, “black students-are-lazy,” conceals that many blacks do well, while making it more difficult for others to succeed.

    Denial is also operational! Applications, funds, and meetings are denied. Benefits are denied—as often is justice, always gun control.

    Trump accelerated and widened denial's use, in every policy from national security to military deaths, from tariffs to morality. Think of any pronouncement or policy of his, strip it of context/content, and denial is its zombie lawn stake.

    DeVos uses denial like a blind mule.

  133. DeVos drives so much anger from the commentariat because she is uniquely unqualified for the position she holds. We don’t need more religion in the schools and we don’t necessarily need more choice. What we do need is national standards, a longer school day, after school tutoring and more social workers.

    Betsy is here to destroy her agency, defund our public schools and weaken our teacher unions - that is why she gets our ire - she is here to make money at the expense of our children.

  134. You nailed it!

    DeVos was involved with an education services company wherein kids learn remotely, on computers, with "customized learning" programs instead of going to school. Just what we need, right? Let's further isolate kids, sit them in front of a computer screen, and not even have to pay teachers!

    Lesley Stahl did a great job exposing her total oblivious mindset. DeVos hasn't visited struggling schools because she doesn't care about them. In her own state the charter schools are a mess and the public schools (minus the funds redistributed to charters) are also a mess.

  135. DeVos and her billionaire class could do one thing that would make our schools better, instantly. She could pay the kind of taxes on wealth we had 50 years ago that funded our Nation's schools. And everything else.

  136. The last thing we need is more change agent social (justice) workers.

  137. Whether it is conscious or not, trump and his privileged appointees simply ooze bigotry and racism. Given that the first step in changing a person on this front is getting them to see that their actions are in fact bigoted and racist, I hold no illusions that anything will change with this self-unaware crew. The ballot box will need to speak for us and hopefully it will speak loudly. To all the readers of the Times, be a voter, be a person who makes a difference and saves our country!

  138. “You can only do what you can do.”

    I first thought it was just hillbilly double-talk when I first heard it sixty years ago passing through Appalachia. It’s stayed with me and I now realize the remarkable wisdom gained from mountain folk.

    Vision tends to be limited by beliefs and experience but vision can be expanded if one is willing to suspend beliefs while listening to other voices.

    Betsy DeVos’ primary education came during the period when there was fear, strong and successful resistance to public school desegregation even though there weren’t enough Black kids in her community for desegregation to even matter.

    Almost on the same day as the “Brown” decision, Milton Friedman coined the phrase “freedom of choice” and suggested vouchers as a way to avoid “forced integration.”

    DeVos was home-schooled and never had the experience of a public education and the racial and/or class diversity it oftentimes has.

    Betsy DeVos’s vision is limited and “she can only do what she can do.” It’s not an excuse, it’s the fact of a limited vision.

  139. DeVos was very wealthy and went to private academies, so "desegregation" was hardly an issue. Also, there is no evidence she is a racist.

    I think "home schooled" is meaningless for billionaires who can afford private tutors and all kinds of extras for their kids.

    BTW: plenty of liberals home school their kids too, so it has nothing to do with racism. With liberals, it is often to offer intensive education and advantages. With some conservatives, it is usually to have a religious-based education. I've honestly not seen it done for reasons of racism. I know families in my liberal blue community where BLACK parents home school kids, and our schools are 88% black.

    BTW: Barack Obama was raised by wealthy white grandparents in a beachfront condo, and HE attended the very best private schools, never public schools. Why was that OK?

  140. Betsy (Price) DeVos didn’t come from a wealthy family. Her husband made his fortune as the founder of Amway—a multi-layered marketing organization.

    I don’t think I even implied that DeVos is a racist. I simply noted that solutions to America’s educational problems re-quire solutions far beyond her own educational experiences.

    One of the essential aims of private schools was to assure a homogeneity of class interests—that did include race.

    The private schools—especially religious ones—found a new growth when the strategy of the NAACP changed from de-segregation to integration. Desegregation only required an equitable distribution of resources, but integration required busing and quotas which did have race as the driving issue.

    Your assumption is that all non-performing schools are minority schools. Not true. Most studies conclude that educational achievement is correlated to income. There are a number of poor performing white schools that DeVos has not visited.

    Barack Obama’s white grandparents were not wealthy. A better example could have been Clarence Thomas who only attended private Catholic schools (including Holy Cross Uni-versity) but managed to cobble a racial philosophy based up-on “Bigger Thomas,” Malcolm X and Long Dong Silver.

    Most minority schools do perform lower than white schools but all American schools perform lower than 10 other nations—when America used to lead. DeVos’ theme should be “Make American Schools great AGAIN.”

  141. As WaPo's Dana Milbank put it, "Whenever DeVos speaks, it feels as though the sum total of human knowledge is somehow diminished."

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-unappreciated-genius-of-bets...

    When it comes to Trump administration officials, however, she is hardly unique in this regard. Pruitt, Zinke, and Perry come immediately to mind, just for starters. Talk about negative synergy...

  142. I agree completely with every disparagement of DeVos here, but I'd like to bring up one illuminating tidbit. When Michael Bloomberg bought himself a third term, he nominated Cathie Black to be Schools Chancellor, someone's who's only qualification was that she and the mayor attended the same cocktail parties. Fortunately, she lasted just 95 days. What do Bloomberg and Trump have in common besides being arrogant NYC billionaires?: the idea that wealth automatically confers wisdom. Sadly, many in this country still believe that if you are rich, you must be smart and it is that misbelief that has given us both these guys along with a host of other obtuse politicians. If you are an evangelical in its US incarnation, you also subscribe to the notion that wealth is a sign from God, a big lollipop announcing your inherent goodness, an idea even more corrupting.

  143. Time is of the essence in educating young minds.

    While I cannot say for sure Ms. Devos is qualified for her position, her ignorance on many basic policies is disturbing, but I’m not quite ready to declare her unfit for the position, nor do I criticize her support of school choice for families as long as the results are there.

    Lost years in education are not easily recaptured and public education has had too many failures for too many. Maybe Ms Devos is addressing the concerns of those Americans that are being failed by the current public education system. I’ve experienced the disparity between public schools and its impact on my own children.

    Also, the Bernie Sanders neo-liberal, knee jerk love of everything European is equally ignorant. Europe has many challenges that are often ignored by the revisionists that tout European style governance as a panacea for all that is wrong in the US more broadly and Donald Trump specifically.

    Time is a thief in education and we’d be better off not pointing fingers and collaboratively brainstorming solutions that put education first and foremost. Disrespectful and disruptive students are entitled to an education as well, but not at the cost of well behaved children. Those that disrupt the education process must be segregated, evaluated and the underlying causes of their behavior should be addressed regardless of upfront costs.

    In those cases, time is truly a thief and the consequences to our society are very dire and more costly.

  144. She had no qualifications and no experience when appointed; and, after more than a year on the job, displays -- according to you -- "ignorance of many basic policies." Yet you are "not quite ready to declare her unfit for the position." That is a triumph of ideology over observation.

    No, it is not possible that DeVos is trying to help those who have been failed by the public schools when, by her own admission, she has never "intentionally" visited an under-performing school. And her support for school choice must be criticized, as it is an attack on the health of public schools. The results are there. The data show that school choice is bad for public schools. The claim that it provides the poor with any real choice is a scam. It is a sop for the wealthy and the religious right.

    On top of all that, there has been a steady attack on civil rights protections since she took over the department -- the latest example of which is the rollback of Obama-era guidelines that attempted to lessen the racial disparity in the discipline of students. The message to minority public school students from this administration could not be clearer: We just don't care about you.

  145. As a teacher with 28 years experience in a public high school, I would ask a few questions from the front lines. You wish to "segregate" (uncomfortable word choice) disrespectful and disruptive students from classrooms and address their behavior regardless of the costs. Turning that into policy might be difficult: 1) who will determine the level of disrespect and disruption required to trigger the "segregation"?; 2) will the triggers hold up when inevitably challenged in court?; 3) given that public education is funded with public money, how will you get voters to sign off on the enormous costs of such an undertaking (increasing numbers of students being removed from general education classrooms, the cost of evaluation and intervention, the hiring of more teachers to maintain classes for the "segregated", etc.)?; 4) what happens if the source of the targeted behaviors lies in the family dynamics, school-based interventions aren't reinforced at home, and the behavior continues?; 5) If we privatize all schools, will they be responsible for providing the services you propose and if so, will the other parents be willing to tolerate the tuition increases needed to pay for them? The education system is massive, complex, and involves everyone - it defies simple answers.

    Finally, check out some of the innovations being used in Finnish schools. There are some good ideas there. I don't doubt your good intentions but don't fall prey to contempt before investigation.

  146. Regarding Bernie Sanders, go to countries like Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and take a look.

    They don't have the poverty we have.

    They don't have the uneducated we have.

    They have universal healthcare and spend about half as much per person as we do. That gives them money for education.

    They have faced the same globalization as we have and don't have the laid off factory workers we have because the train for the trades and high-tech manufacturing.

    They also don't have the billionaire class we have.

  147. Her policies are so distorted by the interests of lenders and for-profits and her brother’s unsavory connections and add in the misogyny that elected Trump that she is an solid bet for prison herself if you are playing that sort of bingo. Notice she never wears orange.

  148. Re her brother's "unsavory connections": he is far more then unsavory, he is an actual mercenary, a gun for hire, literally a paid killer.....far more sinister then merely "unsavory". His record is shockingly unAmerican and I wonder why he is not in prison for his crimes.

  149. I do hope DeVos expands the school to prison (or record) pipeline. The misguided Obama era policies allowed the recent Florida school shooter to avoid arrests and mental health records that would have either put him on gun purchase deny or hold for further checking by the FBI list. Perhaps they might then have paid attention to the numerous warnings they received about him.

  150. One more time, everybody: THANKS, OBAMA!

  151. Mashiach (Its Italian, look it up) could be Sec of Ed and these kids are still ending up in prison. Don’t blame the shortcomings of a segment of society on the government

  152. One other stunner from the DeVos interview was her admission that Michigan schools had not improved but that “pockets” were doing well. I would hazard a guess that those schools that were doing well just happened to be located in wealthy school districts.

    For Republicans hostile to public education, DeVos is a dream Secretary — at best a bumbler and at worst a crook whose aim is to gut the public schools for the benefit of private charter schools run by Republican friends and benefactors.

  153. I suspect that the "pockets" Ms DeVos refers to are the increasingly well lined ones of her friends and benefactors who peddle private charter school programs.

  154. Hunter S. Thompson had her and her followers in his sights when he observed that "peas rattle loud in an empty head." Watching her body language while listening to her responses confirmed a self-assured person unconcerned about the impact or consequences of her words. If there is one person who embodies the ethos of this administration, it has to be dear Betsy.

  155. Betsy DeVos gave enough money to the GOP so she was given a job. In past administrations, Democrat and Republican, people like her were made Ambassador to Barbados or Lichtenstein or something innocuous like that.

    But unfortunately not so with DeVos, who is perhaps the least accomplished person ever to run any cabinet department:

    1. DeVos has zero true experience in education.

    2. DeVos has zero true experience in business, at least not in running one. She made her money by being born into a family that became very rich (her father founded the Prince Corporation, which was sold to Johnson Controls) and then by marrying a very rich man, whose father founded Amway. Because of all of her donations, she frequently gets appointed to the boards of things.

    3. She has no experience in government or in running anything remotely like the Department of Education.

    4. DeVos knows nothing about public schools, other than she doesn't like the idea of them. Neither she nor her husband nor her kids attended them.

    5. Her big "thing" is that she wants the government to hand out education vouchers to everyone, paid for with tax dollars, and let them use them to pay for any private school they want. She wants to privatize something she knows nothing about.

    It could be worse. Scott Pruitt is competent, devious and cunning enough to truly destroy the EPA. Betsy DeVos will play "Madame Secretary" for a couple of years and then head back to Michigan.

  156. Our government did the same thing to the national laboratories, handing them over to for-profit organizations like Bechtel . . . organizations that know nothing about science. It fits that Trump has now put Rick Perry, another ignoramus who's clueless about science, in charge of the Department of Energy.

  157. Here are some ideas for prison deterrence...

    How about some proper parenting? With Both parents or at least a man, who can teach a young boy how to be a man.

    Less time with electronic devices in the car and at home.

    More time reading books and spending time at the library in lieu of watching endless afternoon sex and violent programs.

    Fewer prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications and more time Exercising Outside, getting dirty and skinning a few knees, instead of filling kids faces with demon sugar and carbs.

    Put those kids to work! Shovel snow, deliver the NY Times, babysitting, volunteering and other forms of community service.

  158. Considering her repeatedly embarrassing gaffes, her documented ineptitude, her brother now getting tied up in the Trump-Russia scandal, and her comments that Trump is a poor role model, it may be that Betsy will be the next contestant voted off Trump's shrinking island.

    Pretty soon it'll just be him, waist deep in his own swamp.

  159. I sent this email to both of my Senators:
    Betsy DeVos: Completely unqualified for her job. Could not answer basic questions on 60 Minutes interview, and seemed like a parrot repeating memorized phrases. What is she doing in this job?! Our public schools are the great equalizers for our country. How are you protecting US Citizens from Trump's Cabinet?! God help us all. When England was a "super power" rich families would BUY an officer position for their sons. Average citizens drafted into the armed forces were at the mercy of these rich boys who did not know anything about battle or war and probably saw the soldiers as disposable and less than human. You are from a wealthy family -- do you see us as less than human too? I sound harsh because I feel frustrated and used.

  160. At least give her credit for marrying yuge money that gave her the ability to purchase her cabinet position. It's called pay to play.

  161. According to Marco Rubio, the Obama administration policies are to blame for the Florida school shootings and the failure to discipline minority students. Not the availability of weapons by youngsters or diligent background checks that could weed out potential dangerous individuals, but the policies of the former president.

    This attack was taken up with alacrity by the sitting president who also conveniently backtracked from a momentary stance against the NRA before buckling under to that powerful lobby’s pressure.

    As Betsy DeVos makes very plain, race does matter in the country today as much as it does in her agency’s attitude towards minority students. DeVos, Rubio and the president are saying, very loudly, that black students are violent and don't know how to conduct themselves in school and need strict supervision and dire punitive measures if they misbehave. Therefore, sterner measures are needed to keep them in line.

  162. Can we require Empathy Lessons of all those who govern? They do it in acting classes. Try on being the other person. You have no money or rights and you get blamed when a problem erupts. Try it on long enough to get the feel of the Other you are ignoring. Of course, some who occupy the highest offices do not know how to empathize...

  163. What DeVos and the Right has wanted since the Desegregation Ruling is find ways to eliminate public schools so they don't have to integrate them. This is clear, in your very insightful analysis as well as by the fact that nearly half the states sought to eliminate the funding of public education in response to Brown v Board of Ed. I am surprised the school shootings have not energized their approach by making the case that public schools are dangerous and education should be something parents and neighborhoods can do better without putting children at risk. Corporations and textbook companies could create courses and assessment tools. Why send kids to school where they'll be exposed to social and economic diversity and other more nefarious dangers? DeVos and the Right argue that parents are legally responsible for educating their children and parents who send their children to unsafe schools (i.e., public ones) are responsible for what befalls them. Democracy and public education are the enemies of the rich, the powerful, and the fundamentalist.

  164. I wonder if Lesley Stahl held an emergency family meeting after conducting this interview and said stop everything and start packing to escape to Canada!

  165. School choice is an ideology, not evidence-based public policy. Always has been, ever since Reagan popularized it as a way to ensure that your kids don't have to go to school with Blacks and Latinos. Imagine what our cities would have looked like, if we had just done this in 1964, instead of all the white people moving out to separate suburb municipalities. Oh, the possibilities.

  166. EVERY article about Betsy DeVos should tell you who her brother is and question if she got her job because of her brother!
    America is a big country with many people eminently qualified and capable of being the Secretary of Education. Betsy DeVos is CLEARLY not one of those people. The Republicans could have chosen to work constructively with Trump and improve his chances at success by making sure he surrounded himself with competent Cabinet officials. Instead they enabled him to fill his administration with unqualified crackpots (like Ben Carson at HUD). How is this ultimately good for Trump, the Republican Party, or America?
    Why does it seem the Republicans just give Trump a blank check on everything when performing their Constitutional role as a check (and balance) would force Trump to do a better job for America?

  167. "There’s a lesson here that applies across the administration. Don’t let the clownishness distract you from the bigotry."

    Thank you for driving home the real issue Michelle. It's exhausting watching the media chase the trivial while so many assaults to policies providing basic protections and decency are steadily eroded by the gang in power right now.

  168. What has any Secretary of Education accomplished? What did Arnie Duncan do? Help create the ill-fated common core? The trend in this country of putting people that never taught as head of secretary of education, has led to the decline of the State of Education in the US.

  169. Betsy, the hollow-man, headpiece filled with straw may have actually found that the key to improving discipline in the classroom is to arm the teachers. It won't be classroom to prison but rather classroom to grave. I can picture that unruly 8 yr old begging for his life for pulling a girl's pigtail. Twenty yrs hence a study will show children were more likely to get killed by a teacher than an intruder. But you can be sure the kids will shut up and sit down when he(or she) waves his gun and fires a warning shot.

  170. Every proponent of charter schools that I have ever met share one trait. They are all wealthy.

  171. The wealthy hate public school's because #1 they don't utilize them, they send their children to private schools, and #2, they hate unions, and teacher's unions are one of the few strong remaining unions in this country.

  172. I don't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. If this uniformed, clueless, intellectually deficient woman is heading education, then both parties need to move on getting her out. I know Pence voted for her because of the tie, but money can buy you a job, but it cannot, apparently, give you knowledge. Her answers on 60 minutes seemed unsure, weak, ignorant, and vague about under achieving schools. Vague? Our schools in our state today suffer because our GOP governor put in a woman (who had never taught) in charge of our schools. It is going to take years to recover.

  173. Let me share a story.There were 2 black male students in my 7th grade English class earlier this year who struggled to pay attention one afternoon during class. Clearly, reading was not their thing. During managed independent reading, one of them (I will call him Z) asked me if he could go to the bathroom. Pretty darn sure he was merely seeking a diversion from the task at hand, I promptly replied "No."
    Z looked at me, then over at his classmate (another black student) with a guilty smile before turning to me and saying, "Is it because I'm black?" I could have responded with righteous indignation, could have thought, "How dare he...?" I did neither. Instead I smiled and said "Absolutely not, many of my best friends are black. If you start reading you can be one of my best friends too!'' This's when he flashed a look of feigned horror about the very uncool possibility of being friends with white, middle- aged female me. However, Z high fives me every time he sees me in the hall and says, "How are you doing, Ms. M?''
    My point? Ms. DeVos and others are afraid of black students; inexperienced with the cultural, social and nuanced ways of interacting with "students of color." Her worldview is so limited that she is dangerous. As are others who seem to have answers in the field of education that are at odds with reality. It's true, many of my best friends are black. All of them have suffered discrimination but are successful DESPITE DeVos and others like her.

  174. Try teaching in a public school where there are omly two whites in your class. Come back to tell how that eorked out for you. Or better yet have your children be among the only two whites in your class.

  175. When will this charade stop? I'm not talking about DeVos, I'm talking about the pretense that the Department of Education has any real power at all. They can't inspect schools. They can't sue school districts, except over misusing money. All they can do is dispense money with strings attached and parade around pretending that they matter. Trump's "arm teachers" is a similarly empty threat or promise, depending on your point of view. And you can add many similar "initiatives" to the list of Federal smoke and mirrors.

  176. America is so intensely dependent on the development of her human capital and Betsy is in charge of that critical role.

    It is really hard trying to provide a dignified response to this woman and the things that come out of her mouth. One calls to mind that esteemed psychologist of years past, Fred Sanford, when he would turn and say, “What a dummy.”

  177. She is not in charge of anything except a barrel of cash. You are being fooled into focusing on her instead of your local school boards and state, county and municipal governments. That's where the control is, not in some DC bureaucrat's office.

  178. Education Secreatry, Betsy DeVos, like most of the Trump cabinet of oligarchs including the President himself is "unqualified." Like Scott Pruitt at EPA, her job was to dismantle public school education by pushing the transfer of public funds to charter schools and voucher programs and reducing the power of teachers unions. As retired professor who evaluated school programs including Head Start and education vouchers, I can say unequivocally that Head Start works and vouchers do not. Head Start students have lower crime rate, higher educational achievement and personal and professional success, and lower use of public services. For every dollar invested, there is a $7 return to the public, Yet, the program is chronically underfunded. That is true in general for public school education where funding is based on real estate taxes meaning that wealthy school districts are well-funded and inner-city and many rural districts are not. The result is that we have many failed schools where discipline replaces teaching and students are on a conveyor belt to jail or poverty or both. We need to address the fundamental cause--education funding inequality--and not the symptoms of our failure to invest in our children.

  179. Its not the failure to invest in schools in Minneapolis or in other schools across the nation. It is the failure to stop the disruption in those schools so that all children can learn. In Minneapolis, even though the rule book says if you swear at a teacher, you get suspended, many administrators fight that. They think just talking to a student is sufficient.

  180. Strangely, most studies of Head Start programs find that any minor positive effects they may have disappear by about third grade. A Head Start program can't overcome the disfunction at home that hampers children in learning.

  181. As with virtually all issues today, it is all about race. DeVos is a graduate of Calvin College, a conservative Christian college established and operated in large part by a fundamentalist, originally Dutch, denomination. She is a typical product of an isolated life in which individuals associate principally with members of the same race, religion and political party. College should, and usually do, allow students to explore other religions, races, philosophies, ideas and beliefs, and to meet individuals from different races, religions, customs and beliefs. DeVos should not be criticized. Trump should be castigated for appointing her and others with similar ideals.

  182. One must spend some time outside of the US to grasp the full extent of America's obsession with race, the original sin of our country that it seems will never be resolved.

  183. The truly sad and worrisome reality is that this problem has festered for several decades amid a clash of ideology between those who recognize the problem and those who politically oppose it. Thus a standstill. Some states have forged ahead with reforms in the area of working with at risk youth in the schools, making sure they remain, have appropriate programming, in alternative placements if necessary, and tightening up coordination with mental health systems. But the same forces which created the problem are still present: attitudes towards non-white populations, resistance to public school improvements, and get tough criminal policy. The right wing does not pay attention to research, they just beat their chests and send out the same hateful talking points to gain power and never look back at the damage.

  184. "Will Betsy DeVos Expand the School-to-Prison Pipeline?"

    I sure hope so! I have investments in private security firms and private prisons, and I see preK-12 education as the next frontier in a still-largely untapped reservoir of profit potential. We've only just started the kind of hands-on policing (what some of us are calling "adolescent security management") we'd like to see in every school, at every grade level. This will not only keep schools safe (at least for teachers and "school resource officers"), but it will provide an important revenue stream for local law enforcement. Finally, it will teach these kids important lessons about what we value, what we expect of them, and most important, that there is no corner of the earth where they can't find some way to make some money. God bless this great country, and God bless Betsy DeVos.

  185. I sincerely hope that you are being sarcastic.

  186. This is what happens when you nominate an unqualified person for the job. Someone who has no empathy for public schools, the students, or the parents or public school students. Someone who led a sheltered life and then married into money.

    It seems that the intent of this administration is to enrich businesses at the expense of the rest of us. A free education is one of the greatest gifts that a society can give to its citizens. It is a great equalizer; those who start at the bottom can get an education and work their way up.

    This administration, wants to keep rich people rich, and let the rest of us fight it out for the crumbs that are left over.

  187. On the contrary, she has great empathy for poor kids and has been a life long advocate of improving education for them, as opposed to Democrats who are wholly owned by teacher's unions and so are content to let children languish in failing public schools.

  188. Michelle, just keep writing. Never give up. Love you for your never-ending truth tellling. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  189. If memory serves, Trump talked a whole lot about “draining the swamp” when he ran for office. It seems Devos is queen of the swamp things. She does not care about poor children or underperforming schools, because she lives in a bubble of privilege. It’s disgusting to me that she was granted this position to begin with. She shouldn’t be anywhere near the school system, because she is way too out of touch.

  190. The danger of the having a person ignorant to the vagaries of working in schools is underlined in this issue. The “Dear Colleague” letter opened up important discussion of serious discrepancies in dispensing discipline. Mrs.DeVos does not seem up to the task.

  191. How many other people with money that know nothing are stalking the halls of education, finance and politics.
    Given the total adoration of the buck in the US, you get what you deserve. Karma kids.

  192. Here’s an idea: The Dept of Education is a useless bureaucracy. Let’s get rid of it.

    Problem solved. You’re welcome.

  193. An undereducated population is this administrations best customer.

  194. I'm sure Trump considers DeVos a shining star in his cabinet. She knows nothing about education and educational policies, she is unconditionally loyal to him and she has a brother, Eric Prince, who will do anything Trump wants, no matter how corrupt, for enough money. Let's not forget that the family will be huge donors to his re-election campaign.

    DeVos - just another swamp creature.

  195. In 2009 while at the Department of Education I found data in the D Ed Office of Civil Rights that showed massive racial and ethnic disparities in school suspensions and expulsion rates.

    I brought it to the attention of the Director of the National Center for Education Statistics.

    I wrote a rather compelling narrative about how the process has been documented to start with disparities in expulsions in pre K programs, is translated through disparities in school resources and drop out rates to school failure and expulsions.

    The collective response was ..."...duh....who cares".

    My supervisor said "we don't do research". I then found out that no one using the statistics churned out by the NCES school crime program for much of anything.

    Michael Wiatrowski Ph.D.
    LTC, U.S. Army Retired
    Leander, Texas

  196. DeVos has levitated above the masses her whole wealthy privileged life. She has no life experience or educational training that would give her one iota of insight into the problems or solutions needed to manage the educational system. She fits the Trump template of having ultra wealthy people around him that think they know everything about everything, but in reality they are inept, as she is.

  197. DeVos is clueless or worse-care-less. She fits right in with Trump and the GOP.