Betsy DeVos: a terrifying confluence of Church, State, Kleptocracy, & the Unbearable Whiteness of Being

(Spoiler alert: if you think that Amerikan public education sucks so much that it can’t get any worse, this isn’t for you.)

Oh, my, yes.  We all heard what a train wreck of abysmal ignorance her answers to Senatorial questions at her confirmation hearing (file under: ya just couldn’t make this shit up!)

“President-elect Trump and I know it won’t be Washington, D.C., that unlocks our nation’s potential, nor a bigger bureaucracy, tougher mandates or a federal agency. The answer is local control and listening to parents, students, and teachers.”

When asked if she’d commit to not privatizing schools or cutting money from public education:

“President-elect Trump and I know it won’t be Washington, D.C., that unlocks our nation’s potential, nor a bigger bureaucracy, tougher mandates or a federal agency. The answer is local control and listening to parents, students, and teachers.”

Guns in schools?  Easy:

“Well, I will refer back to Senator Enzi and the school that he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

On questions concerning the federally mandated Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):

“I think that is a matter that’s best left to the states.”  (Yeah, she was then (ahem) told about the meaning of the law, kinda/sorta amended her first answer.)

“Parents no longer believe that a one-size-fits-all model of learning meets the needs of every child. And they know other options exist, whether magnet, virtual, charter, home, faith-based or any other combination.”

But of course she’s never gone to public school, nor have her children, although Arne Duncan had, and look what he accomplished in terms of for profit private and other charter schools… But I digress, partially because the Obama administration had again ‘led the way’.

Nancy Hanover at has done some mighty serious diggin’ into Miz Amway DeVos, and she’s made the above look like Chump Change.  Her May 15 ‘US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists’ is not only historically informative, but chilling.

“Addressing a standing-room only audience of venture capitalists and school privatizers [in Salt Lake City], DeVos dismissed the American education system as “an outdated Prussian education model.” She emphasized her desire to end government’s role in education and called for scrapping the Higher Education Act of 1965.”

Apparently, the US secretary views with contempt the pioneering of free, tax-funded and public education established in the north German state in the early 1800s.” 

She’s shone further light on “Prussian model”, and added that it was ‘the father of the common school movement’ Horace Mann having studied the system in 1843 and brought it to the US.

“It is interesting to note that the “Prussian model” contrasted with a type of Calvinistic utilitarianism promoted by English and Swiss education reformers. DeVos has traced her ideological influences to Andrew Kuyper, a neo-Calvinist opponent of secular education.

DeVos is fully conscious of the scale of the social counterrevolution she wants to impose on American education. Schooling should be largely returned to the churches, according to this arch-reactionary, along with for-profit education companies.”

Her hyperlink above goes to her Dec. 13, 2016Betsy DeVos: Religion and profit in the war on public education—Part 1’.  For me, it was a hair-raising exposé.  After noting that DeVos’s husband Rich/Dick (alternately; no pun
really  intended)  is the eldest scion of the pyramid sales dynasty Amway Corporation, and that she’s stated that her aim is in displacing public schools from the center of communities, so that the Church can resume its rightful role.

Oh, and Hanover says that Herr Trump’s first choice for Secretary of Education was reportedly Moral Majority co-founder Jerry Falwell, Jr., head of Liberty U.  Also noteworthy is pro-charter Arne Duncan’s praise of Detroit as ‘education reform ground zero’ largely as the result of the DeVos family’s ‘spadework’ at their home base in Michigan, and that:

“Michigan now boasts the greatest proportion of charter schools run by a for-profit management organization of any state, 80 percent. Moreover, over half of Detroit students attend charter schools, the second highest percentage of any major school district. Two separate year-long studies of charter schools revealed that more than a billion dollars in Michigan has been spent with almost no oversight, including the funding of “ghost schools” that never opened.” 

She includes this photo of the DeVos family fixer-upper mansion on Lake Macatawa, Michigan.

Her narrative of the DeVos family’s war on public education through funding boatloads of organizations, including efforts that were approved by the Obama administration with glorious-sounding names is truly awesome.

“At the same time, the DeVoses have steadily ramped up their war on education nationally over decades. They established a political action committee, All Children Matter (ACM) in 2003 with fellow billionaire John Walton (son of Walmart founder Sam Walton) and the Koch brothers, to better fund privatization drives. Following legal challenges for the violation of campaign reporting laws in Ohio, the lobbying group reformulated itself as the American Federation for Children (AFC), and continued to be funded by the DeVoses.”

But back to Hanover on DeVos in Salt Lake with the venture capitalists:

“She made her usual “school choice” arguments couched in populist bromides, as in, “Those who are closest to the problem are those best equipped to solve it.” She restated her hostility to universal public education: “Our education-delivery method should be as diverse as the kids they serve, instead of our habit of forcing them into a one-size-fits-all model.” The assembled entrepreneurs were all aware these were code words for opening up the education “market” for profiteering, in addition to slotting poorer children into low-skill utilitarian jobs.

She promised to “cut the red tape” for education businesses and described the education technology industry as a “thousand flowers, and we haven’t planted the whole garden yet.”

The gathering consisted primarily of representatives from GSV Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed bank with substantial venture capital investments in education technology including JAMF Software, coursera, Chegg, and Course Hero.

At the conclusion of her address, DeVos was asked about the pending reauthorization of the 1965 Higher Education Act, originally signed by Lyndon Johnson as part of his Great Society programs. “Why would we re-authorize an act that is [more than] 50 years old and keeps getting amended? Why don’t we start afresh?” she replied.”

After explaining the history of the HEA, and the working class and civil rights struggles that led to it (accompanied by the historic photo of LBJ signing the act with Lady Bird behind him), and what it’s meant for the working class, alongside the Voting Rights Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Medicare, she quietly growls:

“All these reforms, won through mass struggles, have been steadily undermined, by Democrats and Republicans alike, and are now targeted for destruction by the Trump administration.

Of course, DeVos’s facile dismissal of the Higher Education Act is not surprising from an administration that seeks to turn the clock back for the working class to the 19th century and from a secretary who has expressed support for child labor.

The highly political personnel directing the Global Silicon Valley group, like DeVos, are aiming well beyond the immediate prospects of cashing in on the education market. They have advanced a document “2020 Vision: A History of the Future,” which links the business of education technology, profit potentials and national social policy.”

She digs into what GSV’s ‘vision’ entails, and looking for and having found it, I decided not to download the document, nor purchase copies, lol, as she would have brought the pithiest parts.  The page shows names and photos of ‘the authors’.  From the bottom left-hand corner: GSV is a modern merchant bank. We identify, advise, invest in, and accelerate the fastest growing, most dynamic companies in the world… the Stars of Tomorrow.

Hanover ends with:

“GSV calls for mandatory national service “as a force multiplier” for business.

In this regard, GSV lauds Israel as a visionary “Start Up Nation.” Ignoring the war crimes and social conditions of Israel—a brutal apartheid-like regime based on the dispossession and repression of the Palestinian people and one of the most socially unequal societies in the industrialized world—GSV glorifies it as the world’s best incubator of new businesses, a positive model for the US.

Betsy DeVos’s political bedfellows at GSV and their “2020 Vision” are a clear warning as to US policy plans for the destruction of public education and the dragooning of another generation into growing imperialist wars.”

Here is Hanover’s ‘Betsy DeVos: Religion and profit in the war on public education—Part 2’,, 14 December 2016

It’s by way of a ‘who’s who’ of ultra right wing and secret organizations steeped in Fundamental Christianism, from Rich DeVos’s heavy involvement with the Council for National Policy, including Ollie North, Paul Weyrich of ALEC, and ‘former KKK leader Richard Shoff and televangelist Pat Robertson (who has defended assassination as a foreign policy tool and described Muslims as “worse than the Nazis”), and other proponents of hate politics against gays, Jews, blacks, Latinos, Islam, etc., according to the SPLC.’

And lets not forget Miz Betsy’s brother Erik Prince’s mercenary army Blackwater, along with various of his other activities you know only too well, given nauseatingly lucrative contracts by Clinton and Obama.  She includes some of DeVos’s criminal history as well.

Thank you, thank you, Nancy Hanover, for your superior journalism.

But today’s news is: ‘Trump administration education budget proposes $10.6 billion in cuts’, Shelley Connor,

“Documents obtained earlier this week by the Washington Post outline the Trump administration’s first Department of Education (DoED) budget detail plans to dramatically slash federal funding for public education.

Among the most egregious measures included in the proposal is the complete elimination of a student loan forgiveness program designed to help teachers, social workers, and other public servants with their student debts.”

The rest of the hits to student loans are essentially: Only the wealthy should be able to go to college; the rest can fold towels  or sling McDogfood for a living.

“In K-12 education funding, 22 programs would be eliminated. Among these are a $1.2 billion program for after school programs. These programs serve almost two million children, most of whom are from poor families. Other cuts include $2.1 billion for teacher training and class-size reduction, a $12 million program for gifted students, $12 million allocated for Special Olympics programs, a $27 million arts program, $72 million allocated for foreign language and international studies programs, and $65 million allocated to programs for Alaskan and Hawaiian Native populations.”

The rest you can imagine or read; but yeppers:

“This budget demonstrates Trump and DeVos’ well-documented disdain for public education. DeVos has previously characterized federally-funded public education as “arcane” and ineffective; she has also headed an organization, the Acton Institute, that advocated for the repeal of child labor laws. The Trump administration’s budget proposal is but a first, coordinated attack upon public education while benefiting the privatized school companies, for whom George W. Bush and Barack Obama opened the door, at the expense of quality education for working class children—and most especially for impoverished children.”

Okay; we can let George Carlin have a li’l fun, can’t we?

(Where over half of the graduating seniors at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida turned their backs to protest Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her commencement speech on May 10. The students said they organized the protest because of her remarks about historically black schools like theirs.)  Good on them!

49 responses to “Betsy DeVos: a terrifying confluence of Church, State, Kleptocracy, & the Unbearable Whiteness of Being

  1. Jeebus; here’s Dierdre Fulton’s ‘Trump Administration to Raid Public Ed to Fund School Choice Programs’; With key K-12 and higher ed programs on the chopping block, education advocate Diane Ravitch declares: “Don’t agonize. Organize.” at common dreams

    Second paragraph:
    “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a wealthy philanthropist who lobbied for voucher programs and charter schools before being tapped to lead the nation’s K-12 and higher education systems, will reportedly announce the school choice proposal Monday at an Indianapolis summit hosted by the conservative group she formerly chaired, the American Federation for Children.”

    DeVos is a philanthropist??? (noun; a person who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.) we should pay attention to her? Pfffft.

  2. nite; keep imaging. the truth is out there…

    ‘Alien megastructure’ mystery returns as inexplicable flashes begin again’, bwa ha ha, at RT

  3. It’s hard to imagine the U.S. public educational system being worse, even under DeVoss; tis already at rock bottom and dropping…
    Interestingly, the Thai public educational system is possibly worse. I say that with 5 years of teaching experience behind me, and; I’m married to a Thai teacher of English with 41 years of experience; she doesn’t disagree with my POV.
    Wealthy Thais and Usian’s send their children to schools outside the system; often (Thais) to one of the 5 native English speaking countries; U.S., New Zealand, UK, Canada, and Australia.

    • so….does that mean you hadn’t bothered to read this diary, v arnold? and may i kindly, but strenuously disagree w/ your contention?

      • Of course you may; specifficaly what?

        • your contention that “It’s hard to imagine the U.S. public educational system being worse, even under DeVos(s)”. so did my spoiler alert work for you and cause you not to read the diary? if you had, i can’t imagine that you’re holding that position.

          • Yes, I read the diary. I honestly do not care what happens to the U.S.’s “educational” system; it’s long been and continues to be an abject failure.
            Discussing that system is a moot point, IMO.
            I do hope my utter contempt for most anything Usian is obvious.
            I only express sympathy for the people trapped there with no way out.
            I’m truly sorry for them…

            • I guess my POV doesn’t worry what I consider the degrees of rot; rotten is rotten. DeVoss is just another brick in the wall, as is the Christian fundamentalism and the rest of the failed experiment called the U.S.A..
              The utter corruption of everything I held dear and the knowledge it’s beyond redemption, is almost too much to bear.
              As with everything in life, the learning curve is steep; but the lessons learned are worth every painful step.
              Possibly my takeaway is; never align, believe, or trust government; any government.
              Cheers from the Hermitage

            • oh, yes, your utter contempt is abundantly clear, v. but at least this time you’ve offered sympathy to those of us who’ve stayed for various reasons, not just gloating that you got out, and everyone should flee as you usually do.

              and i still maintain that the devos family projects aren’t just plain old rot, but i won’t take the time to specify how and why that is. best to you both at the hermitage.

              • …and everyone should flee as you usually do.

                And just how would you presume to know that?
                I’m willing to agree to disagree.
                The internet is a jungle of traps, intentional mis-direction, and arguments with no resolutions; but yet full of character assassinations, when one cannot possibly know the others intent, pov, background or, in fact, character.
                We disagree on this and I’m fine with that; as long as I can posit my pov.
                If, in fact you knew me (which you do not), that is the last thing you would put on me as a label.
                Again, cheers from the Heritage…

                • isn’t it true that you’ve often urged amerikans to ‘get out while you still can’ at ian welsh’s site? if that’s a label, i’m not seeing it as one. but smack me as you will, but ‘cheers’ at the end rings pretty passive aggressive to me.

                  • …flee as you usually do.
                    That was my bone of contention.
                    My, my, you do have a store of labels; now I’m passive aggressive?
                    I simply wanted to end on a positive note, as in no hard feelings; that missive is fast disappearing.
                    In fact, I think I’m gone…

                    • yeah, well, i’ll try to sort this out later; 2 tired and 2 busy for now.

                    • v a: “I do hope my utter contempt for most anything Usian is obvious.
                      I only express sympathy for the people trapped there with no way out.
                      I’m truly sorry for them…”

                      wd: oh, yes, your utter contempt is abundantly clear, v. but at least this time you’ve offered sympathy to those of us who’ve stayed for various reasons, not just gloating that you got out, and everyone should flee as you usually do.

                      you then intimated that (bafflingly) i was labeling you, how could i presume as i don’t know you, internet traps, character assassinations, etc., etc.

                      so i tried to explain why i’d said ‘as you usually do’, by referencing your many comments at ian’s advising peeps to get out, and i might have added, brooking no explanations for ‘not getting out’. even here i’d reminded you that some of have relatives we’re not willing to up and leave, nor the wherewithal if we desired to leave the US. so *this time* i was trying to make note of your sympathy for those of us trapped here w/ no way out. and yes, i could have said that after a smack, ‘cheers’ rang a bit hollow instead, but…i didn’t. but you still said ‘as you usually do’ was your ‘bone of contention’.

                      so yes, go, stay, but i wanted to at least try to sort out the conversation for what it was…and wasn’t. that’s all. but come to think of it, even once before when i’d quoted your own words back to you, you’d seemed to think they weren’t your own words. odd-bodkins, imo. the ‘home-schooling conversation i finally had had to beg out of was one.

  4. I didn’t quite understand your spoiler alert either, wendye, as although the idea of public education is fundamentally sound, practically speaking I have to agree with V. Arnold that the present state of it in the US is woeful. I had no problem transferring my kids to the New Zealand system a few years back (they’re tinkering with private these corrupting days, but not nearly as horribly as here) so indeed public education is the best way to go, education for all and all of that. Returning to public school in the US was an absolute nightmare that put my younger kids off education in very debilitating ways unforeseen by me.

    Your critique of the lady in question is absolutely sound; she is a crackpot. Her attitude reminds me of the GWBush style of Christian conservatism at its worst.

    I, growing up in New Zealand, had the best possible public education part way through high school. Transferring to the US, even back in the ’50s, I could only obtain a similar intensive college bound curriculum at a private church school. That should not be the case. It’s a matter of comparison, however, that doesn’t depend on whether it is public or private, church or state, but on what is available. In this country, perhaps some places still have good public education – that’s the way it ought to be for sure. But many places don’t. And in my experience, even though I never was nor ever will be Catholic, that church school gave me an excellent education. Just have to say that.

    • NC, by the way, has a very interesting link I highly recommend:

      The article describes the period we are entering as an ‘interregnum’. I think there’s a lot to be said for this analysis, and I’ll put a few quotes on here that I think pertain to what we are facing under Trump. It doesn’t particularly describe the educational absurdities, but may make how we approach these lurches into extremes more understandable.

    • yes, i added a few words that may have cleared it up: (Spoiler alert: if you think that Amerikan public education sucks so bad that it can’t get any worse, this isn’t for you.) but then i’d thought we’d covered the deplorable state of amerikan education and content on the ‘dunno much about history’ post, with a few commenters speaking up for it, and one claiming that home schooling is the only way. sure, the parents of 54 million public school children (2016 stats) will have the wherewithal for that.

      imo, it’s not that she’s a crackpot, but is as my title says, and hanover’s several exposés have shown: far, far, more dangerous. with this sentence: “It’s a matter of comparison, however, that doesn’t depend on whether it is public or private, church or state, but on what is available”, are you contending that our tax dollars *should go* to fund religious and or for-profit private charters, to online education of which the deVoses and friends not only profit mightily, but control all the content, grading, etc.? or just trying to say that religious schools can be better than public ones in some areas?

      i’ll say again that what hanover dug up in her 2016 parts one and two simply but maybe that’s just me, of course.

      on edit: upon further musings, it may have been that w/ my spoiler alert, you may have chosen not to read it. v arnold never said if he had…but maybe he was waiting for me to give a two-paragraph synopsis again.

  5. Here’s the first one:

    “…Characteristic of today’s zeitgeist is a new cultural divide that has struck the capitalist democracies without warning. Structurally, it has its roots in long-festering discontent with ‘globalization’, while simultaneously the number of ‘globalization losers’ has been steadily growing. The process reached a tipping point in the years following the financial crisis of 2008, when the quantity of discontent transformed into the quality of open protest. One of the reasons why this took so long was that those who had earlier spoken up on behalf of society’s losers had ended up joining the fan club of globalization, by the late 1990s at the latest. For a while, then, those experiencing globalization as a problem rather than a solution had no one to stand up for them…”

    I’d submit that the ‘globalization’ description elaborated on in the first part of this article did infiltrate the public school system in the US to a disastrous extent so that by the ’90’s teachers were regimented into teaching to the test, leaving their chosen profession in droves, administrations bloated, systems shunting kids into confrontations with police, schools way too large to function – that was my experience trying to give my kids a good public education here. I ended up home schooling them – not to any great success I have to say; the damage had been done.

    • Here’s just one more internal paragraph from the article:

      “…An interregnum in Gramsci’s sense is a period of tremendous insecurity in which the accustomed chains of cause and effect are no longer in force, and unexpected, dangerous and grotesquely abnormal events may occur at any moment. This is in part because disparate lines of development run unreconciled, parallel to one another, resulting in unstable configurations of many kinds, and chains of surprising events take the place of predictable structures. Among the causes of the new unpredictability is the fact that, following the populist revolution, the political classes of neoliberal capitalism are forced to listen rather more closely to their national populations. After decades in which national democracies were hung out to dry in favour of institutions that promoted globalization, they are now coming back into their own as channels for the articulation of discontent…”

      I’d submit that those disparate lines of development include the expansion of educational prospects into both schools where profit is the main motive for their existence (bad) and schools where education is actually the main imperative, be they church run or run by idealistic agnostics. And whether the political classes will actually listen more closely to their national populations on this matter is definitely up for grabs at present. The State, however, is failing – and that’s a biggie.

  6. More from Glenn Ford…

    Study Shows School Vouchers Hurt Students – But Trump and DeVos Couldn’t Care Less

    If President Trump gets his budget passed, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the billionaire school privatizer who was rescued from rejection by the Senate by only one vote, will have an additional $250 million to fund private school voucher programs in Washington and, she hopes, the 13 states that currently finance their own voucher schemes. Trump proposes an overall increase of $1.4 billion for school voucher and charter programs, with the goal of ramping it up to $20 billion — while immediately cutting the total federal education budget by $9 billion, or 13 percent.

    They also note that: “Cory Booker is a true believer in privatized education.”

    • thanks, greyson smythe. even back then ford had known that “Cory Booker was also a star in the rightwing corporate political firmament, serving for ten years with the American Federation for Children, a leading school voucher and charter advocacy outfit founded by Betsy DeVos, and chaired by her until last year: and one of her family’s big compromised NGOs toward school privatization schemes. i hadn’t a clue how deep their ties were into the many astro-turf organizations, esp. ones twined with fundie christianists. that list knocked me over w/ so many names of the powerful figures of those churches and ‘movements’.

      heh; ‘global silicon valley‘, my my my. ‘vision 2020: a history of the future’; what could go wrong for the proles? funny to read that comprador cory booker failed to vote for miz amway betsy, though, and glen’s speculation as to his reasons. ‘Booker for Prez! Starring Hopium and Obedium!’ wonder if her criminal past came up in her confirmation hearings? but oh, yes: liz warren was on the ‘transparency and accountability’ case. god’s blood.

      on edit cuz slow brain: diane ravitch, having been showing how private charters are the ones failing kids. is it in mexico where proficiency is high, but few kids are ‘selected’ to attend school? at least that was the case when i was trying to make our kids schools…better.

  7. “School safety”! Ha! Gotta unload the baggage if you want to be Obama II.

    I googled “Betsy DeVos Criminal” and this popped up from MoJo: Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build “God’s Kingdom” (March/April 2017). Ugh. (Apparently she cut her teeth in Michigan: How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics)

    Thanks for “Diane Ravitch” – I hadn’t heard of her before.

    • From the latter link:

      Thanks to the DeVoses, Michigan’s charter schools enjoy a virtually unregulated existence. Thanks to them, too, the center of the American automotive industry and birthplace of the modern labor movement is now a right-to-work state.

    • brilliant, greyson! hanover had used on quote she’d attributed to Rolling Stone. but oh, my, tim obrien’s photoshop is splendid. oddly, i’d been recalling a diary that used the cover of ‘waiting for superman‘. i dug it up, and may be bring a snippet or two later, but it’s largely about instant teach for america ‘graduates’ and charter schools.

      hanover had mentioned the devos ‘experiments’ in MI, esp in detroit, and their ‘philanthropic’ endeavors in getting walker re-elected, and cutting funding for public schools, and face it, the entire social safety net. i’ll be back to read your other link, but chores are thick here on weekends.

      on edit: not as beautifully surrealistic as o’brien’s, but funny in a creepy-crawlie way.

    • just plain ‘wow’ on the ‘devos used god and amway to take over MI potics’. lawdie, i’d never known that rich/dick ran for gov, and love it that he was crushed! a shadow republican party, indeed. too many quotes/passages to choose from, but referencing max weber’s book on calvinism sure pinged. from your first RS exposé, it was nice to discover that their brand is ‘dutch reformed’, cuz the wiki page on calvinism got pretty arcane as to brands reformations, and schisms, of course.

      but ‘predestination’ figured prominently, as did ‘ya can’t change your status thru x, y, or z, only god can change it. but clearly the devos family believes in fundi Xianist ‘prosperity doctrine’; hell, mebbe they invented it! if yer rich, it proves god loves ya! yeah, we have family of that ilk, and the head of that side also did the whole amway pyramin scheme thing.but yep, you found the criminal charges and fines: amway failure to pay yanno, Taxes!

      family run like a government? well, more like a corporation, i’d say phooey, i’ll go take care of more things here, and since it looks hard as hell to pluck things out of this diary, including all the relevant bits, can i just give you the title and the link and let you peruse it? of course i can. but you’ll see a lot of the same NGOs of the non-profit industrial complex in it. oh, and i was spinning off a great investigative piece by an author at, drew franklin. great folks, great site. wish i had time to pluck some bits out, but i did think of it cuz i’d meant to say that when i’d looked at the ‘global silicon valley’ place: ‘sound like bill and melinda gates’ sort of ‘help’.

      ‘Vote TFA Grifter DeRay McKesson for Mayor of Baltimore!’ February 25, 2016

      on edit: one diane ravitch link from 2014 is in there, and jason had linked to this in the comments:
      ‘Study shows US charter schools pocketing billions with no accountability, Walter Gilberti, 16 November 2015, including:

      The Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal watchdog group, sponsored the first in-depth 20-year look at the federally allocated finances of the charter school industry. The study shows that since 1995, $3.7 billion has essentially disappeared into the hands of charter schools with almost no accountability. The authors of the study were astonished at “how little is known” about the chain of responsibility from the federal government on down.

      Most shockingly, the group found that millions of dollars have flowed into charter school coffers for “ghost schools”, operations that either never opened or briefly opened and then shut. For example, in just two years—under the watch of the Obama administration’s Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan—the State of Michigan provided a staggering $3.7 million to 25 such fraudulent enterprises which never opened, while Ohio spent another $4 million on seven. California spent $4.7 million on schools which opened and quickly closed; Wisconsin $2.5 million, Indiana $2.2 million, etc.”

      • The Grift Continues! Viva The Grift!

        No, The DeVos’ didn’t invent the Prosperity Gospel… That’s been around for a while. To construe broadly: The wages of sin is death, dontcha know and long life is proof of God’s favor – pre-Christian ideas… In fact it was the longevity of that idea that impressed upon me the idea of the *extreme* conservatism of certain aspects of the culture.

        I just tried to get Google translate to translate “Grift”. Did you know that it’s the same word in languages from Spanish to Malagasy and Maori and Zulu? Truly a well-traveled word!

        • i wuz just teasin’ about it bein’ invented by the devos Kingdom of God, but thanks for the wiki link. each church or denomination may have er…different interpretations, i reckon. holy simoleons and creflo dollars!: same word in all those languages? even malagasy, too, lol? (whazzat?)

          Viva the Grift! it’s what the USA does best!

          • Yes, of course you were just teasin’

            Just as I was kidding about the google translate; It does “translate” the same way in those languages, but not because it’s actually the same word – the Grift confuses the Google…

            • lol, i got punked, but soooo delightfully. but as to teh google, it may be one of the mega-grifts, directing one where IT wants you to go, tra la la, but this is also fun reading: ‘‘Google Is Not What It Seems’ by Julian Assange

              great photos and graphics, among other things. (not that you should consider this ‘homework’, but is rollicking fun.)

  8. The very interesting thing going on in my neck of the woods is that charter schools are showing their corruption. The high school of the local middle school charter my daughter went to for a year just got closed down because the high school principal (my daughter’s middle school principal for a year) falsified the course records of 25% of the students to show that they completed courses they did not complete. Between the year my daughter attended (before 2000) and now, the local non-profit got captured by a company that provided funds for building school buildings and started running as part of a larger organization. Looks for all the world exactly like the way that health management organizations (HMOs) and university health systems took over all of the private practices in our area. That was a result of Nixon’s health management act and some obscure changes that occurred after 1994 during the Clinton administration. The right wing policy strategists have had a long-term plan and ways of minimizing what were actually building blocks for monetizing formerly public institutions. Growing up, the hospitals were county hospitals in South Carolina; the county subsidized them and dictated policy through a local hospital board. This is not what the PTB are returning to.

    The second interesting thing is the public schools who are beginning to figure out how to teach in difficult circumstances and satisfy the statistical bean counters too. The middle school that my daughter was a refugee from (because of school nurse and migraine issues) after several changes in principals has now stabilized with a technical-vocational magnet school program that is getting kids interested in going to school again to learn (American mythology about hating school aside). A vocational biotechnology program created a small farm in an unused courtyard: rain garden, vegetable garden, native plant garden, and a chicken coop. At a minimum, students learn the practices of horticulture and animal husbandry that they can set up at home with very little cash; our city is one that allows in-town chicken and rabbit raising (originally a yuppie suburbanite fascination, but now being used in county ag extension work with poor and working class parts of the city of people who are maybe three generations away from the farm). Student can plug into that network of support. The school is two years in; discipline problems have dropped to half; the scores on academic science end-of-grade tests have turned around and are now at 50% passing the test. With all of the charter and church school opt-outs for public school in our area, we have seen a small number of white professional parents opt in to this school because it is: (1) the designated public school for their neighborhood under assignment plans; (2) their kid often is more responsive to the vocational approach than some of the pressure-to-college private and charter schools; (3) they want to participate in their kid’s school and this is more convenient because it still has a parent-teacher organization (something that most charter schools lack).

    What I’ve notice that is most different between public and charter schools is that public schools are required by state law to essentially goldplate their facilities (welfare for architects and construction companies) and charter schools have less stringent physical facility requirements.

    Really, the federal government puts such a small amount of money into public schools (military family offsets, students with disabilities, low-income students) that it is the states that have the biggest effect on schools. And the coterie of right-wing educators around DeVos are increasingly buying their policy from state legislatures; the first experiment in ALEC-driven legislation was Wisconsin; the second was North Carolina. Both efforts have received backlash but not enough to oust the legislative majority from power. Both states have Democratic parties still reeling from their dramatic losses and in NC’s case the taint of corruption in the governor’s office under Easley and Perdue. Only the incompetence of McCrory allowed Cooper to provide a limited check on what was at one point a runaway Republican legislature that eliminated the cap on charter schools.

    The movement for non-public schools was formed in the run-up to the campaign for Ronald Reagan and was a coalition of Southern fundamentalist segregation academies and urban Catholic parochial schools that both served the white-flighters who formerly were Democrats. That happened around 1978 and was anchored by soon-to-be charter-school-test-provider Bob Jones University (then under suspension of federal funds for discriminating against black applicants to the university). The Unbearable Whiteness of Being, indeed.

    • it’s great to have such a detailed first-person account, amigo. why was the principal’s corrupt data falsification enough to make the ptb close down the high school, though? i’m not sure what you’re describing as far as the non-profit having gotten “captured by a company that provided funds for building school buildings and started running as part of a larger organization”, though. but it made me think of one of the huge grudges against (initially) ‘private money’ starting a charter, installing a corporate decision-making board, then when the private funds dried up, state legislatures ponied up the bucks.

      oh, and gold standards for public: how many times did private charters get to buy an unused building for a buck, and run with it? around here, school building upgrades and new construction are funded by bond issues, which in the past rarely…passed. the old adage is that superintendent who can get new buildings built is guaranteed to be a Hot Property moving on. arrrg; happened in mancos, albeit thru various illegal and nefarious ways.

      your having fleshed out the NC story of easley, purdue, and mccrory was helpful. iirc, it was greyson’s link to politico that narrated some of it, but not knowing the players made it hard to absorb. your final paragraph is interesting history, including bob jones u. it reminds me that one of the exposés in that ‘grifter deray mckesson’ piece was the fact that ‘common core’ teaching/testing materials and software had cost the LA school district over a billion dollars. i’ve forgotten if former CO gov roy romer was still superintendent at the time.

      the politico piece had numerous hubristic, self-congratulatory quotes by devos, but the ones from public school proponents were funniest. “cautious optimism; she seems to mean well”…stuff. (‘don’t wanna get an ass-kickin’ if we can help it.’) kinda like all the politicians who erased all their anti-trump tweets once he was elected, eh? ;-)

      on edit: phooey; i’d meant to show you this uber-irony: ‘Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts’; No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change, the guardian

      how cool the gardening magnet school is, though. iirc, it was rudolph steiner’s protocol to teach all learning skills around real life occupations and endeavors, although the only one i can remember was mining. but as w/ being taught to cook, math skills become part of it, etc. on edit: i can’t find the others, but waldorf schools usually seem to follow his development of this pedagogy: ‘Anthroposophy aims to attain in its study of spiritual experience the precision and clarity attained by the natural sciences in their investigations of the physical world’. goofball that i yam, i just spent waaaay too much time following this particular rabbit down the garden path, lol.

      • The state charter school agency closed down the school because it could no longer certify that this school’s students were ready for college or for work. They hadn’t even taken courses they were listed as completing.

        • well at least the state charter school agency took that so seriously; i admit that w/ all the entwined chicanery they did, but some of this may be causing me to be overly cynical.

          your next explanation of the sneaky ways, etc., makes sense except for the memory of how many ‘involved billionaires’ seemed to have caused the old schools to be ‘repurposed’ as charters, or declared a school ‘condemned’ only to open again after ‘repairing’ them w/ a lick and a promise, and presto. more later, we had guests, and now i’m further behind than ever on my weekend chores. the visit was great though, but then our daughter called with all the catch-up news, minor disasters, etc.; you know how it goes…

      • The way charter schools work is that the state does not provide funds for construction of buildings for charter schools. One of the sneaky ways they engineer cost savings over public schools–to the state. The charter schools must manage their cash flow so as to generate funds to pay for rental of a building or debt service on a mortgage. Public schools issue bond which have district-wide debt service. Some companies went into business as specialized mortgage providers and servicers for charter schools—how does an ordinary bank evaluate the probability at a particular charter school will pay of its mortgage? These specialized mortgage bankers soon realized they could make additional money from squeezing the operating budgets of the charter schools, especially those that might have financial difficulties from legislative uncertainties about charter school subsidies. This particular school fell into the fiscal trap and got swallowed.

    • on searching my depleted memory banks further, i’d recalled that many neighborhood schools deemed ‘underperforming’ (as per common core standards?) were closed, only to have charter schools open in the very same buildings. thinking how many black and latino schools that rahm and friends had closed in 2013, i went looking for that same scheme in chi-town, having thought that Chi is the king of charter schools, not in motor city, but there the percentages were far higher. after a few false trails, i found this dated May 15:

      ‘11 Ways Chicago Is the Beating Heart of the Disastrous Charter School Agenda’, Chicago’s political elite have fallen under the spell of the charter industry’s billionaire sponsors—and the results spell disaster for K-12 education., alternet
      “Chicago’s public school system has become a showcase for the negative effects of K-12 privatization, according to a new report that tracks how the city replaced struggling local schools with dozens of charters that didn’t perform better, yet deprived traditional schools of funds, students and public accountability.
      Chicago Public Schools currently has 131 charter schools with over 58,000 students (approximately 15% of the city school district). They get the same per pupil allocation as neighborhood public schools, but also tap federal, state and local grants, private foundation grants, and private fundraising. For the 2015-’16 school year, CPS charter schools received over $700 million in tax dollars, the report says.”

      after citing 10 of the report’s finding in different sections, this:
      “This is how education privatization works. There’s nothing stopping Bill Gates and all the regional and national education franchises from investing in private schools. They simply don’t want to. Instead, they want a slice of the billions taxpayers are spending each year to educate a community’s children. Right now in Chicago, as this latest report shows, that is $700 million annually creating more problems than solutions in public education.”

      • Yes on Rahm’s Chicago being a disaster. Gentrifying the South Side likely is the future plans out of the Obama Center. And gentrification as most locals in this area who remember Hayti (the so-called black Wall Street in Durham) would note is polite language for “knee-grow removal”. But now, it has become more obviously class-based as the black middle class has more professional class cosmopolitan members. City government is, after all, about increasing the tax base instead of increasing tax rates.

  9. “Lean by doing” was the key idea of Dewey’s “progressive education” that most teachers I had were schooled in. At the very moment there was a political move to delegitimize it with “back to basics-3Rs” learning. My teachers were right. The three Rs Gradgrinds were wrong in each generation and have been proven wrong with “No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top”. The pendulum is swinging back while paying lip-service to the national policy.

    • i just read a brief article on dewey and learn by doing, and in some ways he and steiner agree, although steiner was into creating empathy and spiritualism in chirren as they grew as well. put pragmatic learning. how great to hear that your teachers were steeped in dewey, not the ’empty vessels’ to fill w/ what you call the ‘3R’s’ but do i take it that what you see is more of a return to learning by doing now?

      admittedly while listening to our daughter do some blow-by-blow accounts of some things of little account, i grabbed this link since the title is altogether intriguing. i hope to be able to read it yet this evening.

      ‘Michigan partnership agreements only a temporary reprieve in statewide school closure threats’ Marissa Ross, 20 May 2017

      • When doing gets kids engaged in learning and raises the all-important test scores, smart educators do what raises test scores. And in the process find out that the 3Rs also improve.

        Interesting indeed as the mizzus is from Michigan. Business managers seem to still labor under the illusion that they they know how to educate kids by reducing factor inputs – land, labor, capital. The interesting thing about the DeVos bunch is that they have an intellectual and religious position that wants to completely root out the American common school tradition started by Horace Mann and replace it with religious schools (yeshivas and madrassas excluded, of course). The Republicans in Michigan clearly have screwed up big-time, but so far it only affects majority-black neighborhoods and schools. Lackadaisical white rural public schools are never put into receivership of the state educational authorities. Nor do they get their water poisoned.

        But in New Orleans, four statues of Confederate post-war propaganda are gone.

        • cripes, i’d forgotten to come back and read the MI link.

          “The “partners” involved with the school districts include the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University along with a series of for-profit foundations and corporations. These include the Skillman Foundation (which has been intimately involved in all the pro-privatization restructuring plans in Detroit), United Way, DTE Energy, Ford Motor Company and General Motors.”

          devos family lickin’ their chops, indeed. but see, here it is again?

          “The budget also called for the closure of 24 schools between 2015 and 2019 and proposed to sell 40 vacant school facilities, victims of previous rounds of school closures, to the city of Detroit for a mere $5.5 million. This is only one of dozens of rounds of cuts carrying out the same attacks and layoffs.
          Financial interests are circling the wagons around the partnership agreement as the next step toward large-scale privatization.” fire sale for devos and pals.

          “…replace it with religious schools (yeshivas and madrassas excluded, of course), lol. nope, dutch reform calvinist global silicon valley ‘free market’ religion. yes, good educators adapt, but as we’ve seen, not many do, and some aren’t even allowed to because: curriculum. i’m pleased to hear that in NC they can, and do. miz is from michigan, i’d forgotten.

  10. wheels within wheels

    stuck in the RW…in real time…

    your US education at work as overheard on NPR just now, comparing Nixon w/Trump:
    some egghead: if you read the correspondence of people around Nixon at the time of Watergate, some talk about him as this Shakespearian tragic hero, b/c he was such a great man who is just self-destructing before their eyes…(almost verbatim). I could think of some other fucking adjectives to describe Nixon beside Shakespearian. here’s a good one: Eichmannian. oh no, these Donald trump types that get expectorated on to the national TV dinner w/great regularity must be, no, Shakespearian is not good enough, Nietzschean-Sophoclean, Homeric. Nixon was Achillean in his tragic inevitability. (put me on the NPR teach, coach! I’m ready. some mid-level dipshit in the Geedub admin actually said back when: “they will sing songs about us.” at many a grave, sure. dear people of Cambodia, Indonesia, chile, Vietnam, laos, iran, etc., etc.: what do you think of NPR’s Nixon as Lear analogy?)

    and doesn’t William Jefferson Beauregard Ashley Duchamp CLINTON have some relevance to this whole history of impeachment thing? anyone? anyone want to broach that subject? no? history class fail. why don’t you bright bulbs on NPR want to broach the subject of Clinton’s impeachment? I don’t remember them being so enthused about Ken Starr back in the day.

    ok, no more wasting time on pointing out just how relentlessly unfailingly stupid the people on NPR are. i’m beginning to think it’s part of a plot or something.

    “Hi, question for Ed Sec Devos? just how many hours a day do you think the elementary school children of America should be exposed to Amway advertising?” “well, as you know i’m in favor of local control so there is no one answer. we’ve seen very positive results for the MS Education Suite thru its exposure to 1st graders in the Seattle area in a joint partnership w/the Gates foundation. yes, we are looking at Amway, but as one of many potential clients w/quality products. school vending machines are great marketing platforms. For example, medical supplies advertisements for diabetics are even partially subsidized by Coca Cola on some of these vending machines. and you know one of our goals is to further our children’s education thru fostering increased brand recognition. This is the outside the box kind of thinking we hope to catapult as we accelerate the public-private synergy that arises when gov’t gets off the backs of our innovative entrepeneurs in the school choice industry. it is only thru such endeavors that the children of today will beat the Chinese of tomorrow.”

    jeff Bezos, owns Amazon, owns WaPo. WaPo owns Kaplan Test Prep. again, it’s like a goddam conspiracy or something.

    • hoo doggies; this looks like it’ll be fun! but hold those thoughts, and i’ll be back as soon as i can. i’m having a devil of a time pasting in a new diary (that happens to feature one of your, and mine, for that matter, Timely images).

    • what a fantastic npr parody, www! almost wish i’d heard it. almost. ;-) well, yanno, gotta blow by clinton’s impeachment, cuz: D, and just lyin’ about the meaning of ‘is’ being important. sex, bootie call, and power tripping by a person in power…it’s just the usual affairs of prezes. but pussy grabbing: OMG, and his version of your-presidet-is-not-a-crook’s saturday night massacre is worse, lemme tell you! but come on; give. which adjectives, www?

      dang, ya sound like the devos and global silicon valley folks al in one fell swoop. but where is the army of the kingdom of god? and ‘no free handouts’; we create our own wealth with the help of our calivinist god!’

      now the vending machines and sponsors just gilded the lily on your comment. conspiracy? nah, just bidness, which is of course what molly ivins always noted IS the bidness of amerika.

    • The Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton impeachments have proved that politicians are unwilling to use impeachment and removal for real high crimes and misdemeanors and are quite willing to use impeachment to tar an opposition party President thought to be illegitimate. With the Clinton impeachment, the notion of impeaching a President for real high crimes and misdemeanors died. Not seeing impeachment of Trump and certainly not conviction and removal.

      • most likely true. no need to set any bad precedents. but why impeach someone who is so corrupt that you can hold the special prosecutor over his head for the duration of his term(s) on an endless stream of crimes & improprieties and squeeze a little when necessary?

  11. I can never resist the unanswered question, wheels within wheels (nor your screen name, oh my!) but since I have foresworn all media news bar the printed netscape, I’m having a hard time imagining Nixon as King Lear. His problem might have been that he only had two daughters? I have noticed in print some considerable attempts to rewrite the history of his thankful (to me) demise as role model – I thought it was Watergate and full disclosure via the White House taping system,( his vaguely remiss secretary notwithstanding.) The latest I read was that he was orchestrating a delayed peace with North Vietnam – you could have fooled me – I’m remembering catastrophic doubling down on the war and folk panicking on rooftops whilst overloaded helicopters staggered homeward. But no, things have gotten so demonstrably worse that we can even look back to that era with nostalgia. We? Well, some of us can.

    I did read beyond the spoiler alert, wendye, no problem. Sorry if what I wrote didn’t seem to pertain – my mind does tend to wander…

    • big wheels keep on turnin

      “wheels within wheels here, Rev. Hale,” John Proctor, The Crucible.

      I gather some people get some schadenfreude contemplating just how uniquely awful Nixon may have personally been, but really the question is why the US produces people like him at the same rate it produces Ford F150’s. he was the veep for the guy who warned us about the MIC, both of whom teamed up w/ Roy Cohn to frame up the rosenbergs to generate hysteria over the russkies and the missile gap and all that. is it a coincidence that trump was an acolyte of roy cohn? is there a story there? yes, how small the elite world actually is, how they all know each other, and how this tiny world is comprised of the most awful human beings imaginable. how the US media promotes such people. etc. I find Nixon’s personal variations on these themes kind of interesting, sure. hella lot more interesting than the Obama types. oh you betcha.

      oh yeah, one other reason for the resuscitation of Nixon is the mythology of the heroic journalist bringing down a constitution-trampling Caesar wanna be. and how the system “righted itself” and purged the taint of scandal. that maybe there was a kind of synergy b/n the media’s tabloid interest in the stains on the Lewinsky dress & Ken Starr’s ever-expanding never-ending, always on-air, investigation, eh, that’s not a subject NPR is interested in. and NPR, who was deep throat again? fbi, right? how many of the plumbers from creep were actually CIA? nah, not even possible that a rivalry w/in the deep state took out an elected president. nah, not in god’s America. don’t draw that lesson from Watergate. might lead to some tho’ts about what’s happening w/trump today.

      the Nixon admin is just distant enough so that webs of nonsense can be woven and most won’t even notice. the Clinton admin is too recent. best leave it alone b/c people might not draw conclusions from the Clinton impeachment that NPR & Rachel Maddow would like. I can’t track it down at the moment, but eliot in the 4 q’s talks about what we think of as personal experience of history, a la “i lived thru Watergate,” is partly BS cuz over time our memory becomes irretrievably muddied by the collective memory as told in official histories, journals, newspapers, commentators, etc. who you gonna believe, your addled memory of what happened 45 years ago, or Time magazine’s hagiographical clap happy bs?

    • glad to hear that you read it, but i’d also asked if, given the way you’d phrased a sentence, if you’re okey-dokey w/ tax dollar going to parochial schools. now even w/ their various brands of home schooling software, or: parochial online schools. remember when martha (yeah, i know it’s not her name, but the ‘george and martha’ chirren books) was out touting to jeb’s programs? so unlike melania or whatever’s clothing line…

      to proud mary keeps on burnin’: egad, i’d forgotten that mark felt was a major fibbie. thank you. how many deep throats provide the ‘anonymous fbi, cia, insider quotes now?

      oh, and i’d thought we might have an ‘impeachment’ open discussion soon, as so many palace coups are afoot by way of msm. sound worthwhile? but then herr cheeto in ksa and tel aviv sounds kinda interesting, if not cringe-worthily sickening. ‘the glowing magic orb’ necromancy, yanno?

  12. Charter advocates take over Los Angeles school board’, may 23

    “In what was the most expensive school board election in US history, two school board seats in the Los Angeles Unified School District are projected to be won by the favored candidates of the billionaire-backed charter school movement. More than $14 million was spent on the election.” tough read altogether.

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