People often avoid confronting hard truths, particularly when it means coming to terms with the fact that we may have been wrong about something for years or even decades. This has especially been the case in the ongoing debates over the future of public education in this country. Betsy DeVos is someone who has been unafraid to voice unpopular conclusions that are the inevitable consequence of simply recognizing some hard truths about the U.S. education system. And the hardest truth of all is that for many of the country’s inner-city kids, American public ed is no education at all.
Betsy DeVos has spent the better part of her adult life fighting on behalf of America’s underprivileged and downtrodden kids. Unlike mealy mouthed politicians and weaselly administrators, she hasn’t been afraid to take a scalpel directly to the site of the cancer. DeVos has been a vocal proponent of limiting the virulence of school districts like the one that has produced the abominable Hope High School in Chicago, Illinois. There, the school has produced a student body with shocking dropout rates and a student body so dissolute that only 3 percent of the attendees have scored proficient in math, with 9 percent proficient in English.
At the same time, the state of Illinois is currently facing bankruptcy due in large part to the teacher’s union in that state continuing to insist on outrageously exorbitant payment and retirement packages for teachers who have produced worse results than would have been obtained by banishing kids to the woods to live among wolves. Betsy DeVos is one of the few sane voices who have finally drawn the line, saying that staggering levels of instructional incompetence on the part of venal and lazy educators will lead to the latter being cast into the gladiatorial regime of the free market where public education’s indolent freeloaders will have to tow their own immense dead weight for the first time in their lives.
On the other hand, the record of charter schools has been nothing short of miraculous. DeVos herself has been involved in projects that have conclusively demonstrated that charter schools can succeed superlatively where public education has relentlessly failed. Schools like DeVos’ Potter House High School charter have taken kids out of failing inner-city schools and shown them genuine care and instruction. This has led disadvantaged minority students to post some of the best standardized test scores in the state, reaffirming the galactic failure of those educational flophouses from which they were saved.
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