2017-02-15 / Features

‘DeVos Is Not The One’ Says City

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

Despite strong opposition from the citywide Panel for Educational Policy, as well as several district community education councils, including Community District Education Council 30 in Queens, Betsy DeVos is ready to oversee nearly 100,000 public schools across the country after her confirmation by the Senate as the nation’s Secretary of Education.

“We’ve just come through one of the most bruising, divisive elections in modern times, and that’s okay,” DeVos said on her first day at the Department of Education in Washington DC, according to a February 8th New York Times report.

DeVos needed the historic, tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence after her nomination and confirmation process touched off a firestorm of protest.

Community District Education Council 30 registered its opposition to the DeVos nomination in a resolution passed at its January 9th meeting held at IS 145 in Jackson Heights; and in a special meeting, the Panel for Educational Policy registered their opposition to the DeVos nomination on January 30th. Community Education Councils in districts 1, 2 and 3 in Manhattan also opposed the nomination.

“The Panel for Educational Policy is committed to promoting the welfare of the city school district and its students,” read the Panel resolution, continuing that DeVos “appears to lack credentials as an educator or experience in the administration and management of public schools.”

The Panel went on to state that during her Senate confirmation hearing, DeVos failed to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of educational policies, funding mechanisms, accountability structures and oversight relationships “between federal, state and local educational agencies.”

“Ms. DeVos,” said the Panel, “failed to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of federal education laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and Title IX equal education protections and enforcement of policies related to sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus.”

In its resolution, CDEC 30 said DeVos demonstrates “a predisposition towards” and “long-history of support for charter schools and school voucher programs, which by their very nature eviscerate free and appropriate public education for specific economic, social and racial groups.”

CDEC 30 also stated, “Ms. DeVos has been at the forefront of the establishment of the Detroit charter school initiative, by all accounts an abject failure which hurt students and enriched the coffers of private companies.”

Selected by then-President-elect Donald Trump in November to be his secretary of education, DeVos, a billionaire, was a strong advocate for vouchers and private charter schools run by for-profit businesses in her home state of Michigan.

More than $600 billion is spent every year on K-12 schools, but less than 9% comes from the federal government. During his campaign, President Trump proposed a $20 billion federal voucher program but the proposal also assumes an additional $110 billion to be contributed by the states. Currently, about half of non-federal education funding comes from local property taxes of more than 13,000 U.S. school districts.

In its resolution, CDEC 30 has invited President Trump, Secretary DeVos or other representatives of the administration’s education team to come to Queens and meet with them, “to conduct a forthright and meaningful discussion about the future of public education and their strategies to effect the necessary changes.”

For her part, Secretary DeVos, has said, “I pledge to listen and learn from you, and from stakeholders around our country.”

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