In the News: The Comforts of the Betsy DeVos War

ednext-ototn-feb17-mcshane-warrenIn his New York Times column, Ross Douthat wonders why the Democrats fought so hard against the nomination of Betsy DeVos.

Never mind that Trump’s logorrheic nationalism barely has time for education. Never mind that local control of schools makes the Education Department a pretty weak player. Never mind that Republican views on education policy are much closer to the expert consensus than they are on, say, climate change. Never mind that the bulk of DeVos’s school-choice work places her only somewhat to the right of the Obama administration’s pro-charter-school positioning, close to centrist Democrats like Senator Cory Booker. None of that mattered: Against her and (so far) only her, Democrats went to the barricades, and even dragged a couple of wavering Republicans along with them.

Even the specific arguments that were made about the likely impact of the policies DeVos would be expected to embrace were not compelling.

There’s no evidence that DeVos-backed charters actually visited disaster on Detroit’s students. Instead, the very studies that get cited to critique her efforts actually show the city’s charters modestly outperforming public schools.

Douthat links to an EdNext profile of Betsy DeVos, “Betsy DeVos, the (Relatively) Mainstream Reformer,” and to an EdNext blog entry, “The Data on Detroit,” to support his claims.

— Education Next

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