Betsy DeVos Just Delivered a Promising Speech. Will Her Actions Back It Up?

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave an interesting speech to the American Enterprise Institute last week. In some parts, it contained rhetoric that skeptical conservatives have been waiting to hear. Yet, other parts toed the corporate-establishment, ed-tech, education-as-workforce-prep line that previous administrations of both parties have pursued. Here is a brief review. The Positives First, we commend Secretary DeVos for unabashedly stating the obvious — that the unconstitutional federal control of education has been an utter failure: The bottom line is simple: federal education reform efforts have not worked as hoped. That’s not a point I make lightly or joyfully. Yes, there

Guess What? Congress Wants to Collect Even More Sensitive Student Data

Amidst of the ongoing battle against the surveillance state that we have chronicled with the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (FEPA), the College Transparency Act (CTA), and the regulatory gutting of the family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), there is yet another data bill that is now rearing its head. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) have reintroduced The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act. Like the CTA, in its past iterations this bill has removed the prohibition on the student unit-record system, which would allow the tracking of individual students throughout

A Conservative Defense of Betsy DeVos

Since her confirmation in February of this year, Betsy DeVos has had a hard time finding her footing as America’s newest Education Secretary — a situation made so obvious in her recent Politico profile that Salon magazine immediately hit the presses to posit her early departure with its initial headline, “DeVos Expected To Resign.” In fact, from the point that Jeb Bush suggested her for the top post through her historic tie-breaking confirmation vote by Vice President Pence, DeVos has enjoyed a very narrow band of support, made evident by the lack of real public pushback against the constant carping

The Department of Education Is Ruining US Schools. It’s Time to End It.

There is a bill awaiting the 115th United States Congress, H.R. 899, which calls for an end to our dreadful U.S. Department of Education. The elegant simplicity of this bill is obvious. H.R. 899 is stated in its entirety as: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, then this is amongst the wittiest of bills. H.R. 899 is a bill whose condition is devoutly to be wished, for the constitutionality of the Department of Education is more than just a little questionable; it is unconstitutional by definition. A vital

Man Up, State Leaders! It’s Time to Declare Independence on Education!

With implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) under the U.S. Department of Education (USED), objections are flying to this or that policy (to the extent policy can be discerned). Conservatives criticize continued USED heavy-handedness and mixed signals, particularly by Secretary DeVos’ Democratic lieutenant Jason Botel, with respect to critiquing state plans. Liberals fear funding cuts and relaxed requirements related to certain subgroups of students. Both sides decry the apparent confusion emanating from USED. But it’s worth asking why USED deserves such attention in the first place. ESSA was sold (duplicitously) as restoring the constitutional requirement of state and

Will Congress Follow Trump’s Lead, Cut Back on Invasive Education Programs?

In a disappointing move, the U.S. House Education Appropriations Subcommittee made only minor cuts to the overall budget for the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and to numerous invasive and ineffective programs in their bill writing session held last week. The subcommittee also increased funding for some very worrisome programs. This is quite disheartening given the hope engendered by the Trump administration budget blueprint. The good news is that almost all of the requests for expansion of federal school choice programs — which have the strong potential to expand federal regulations like mandated Common Core-aligned testing to private schools or

New Transgender Letter from Trump Admin Should Have Parents on Alert

Over two years ago the Obama Administration’s U.S. Department of Education (USED) issued radical “guidance” instructing public schools to open up all restrooms, locker rooms, and probably sports teams to students of both sexes. That guidance was rescinded by Trump’s USED in February. Supposedly to clarify how USED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) should now handle Title IX complaints filed by students suffering from gender dysphoria (“transgender” students), Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson recently sent a letter to all Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regional directors. Jackson’s letter is a bit hazy and also a bit concerning.

Trump Admin to Teachers: Call Students by Preferred Pronouns or Else

Although Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a joint memo with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February rescinding the Obama administration’s “guidance” to schools on transgender bathroom policy, a recent memo reveals that her Department has not been immune to political pressure from the LGBTQ rights movement. In the memo dated June 6, Candice Jackson, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, said that failure to use a transgender student’s preferred name or pronoun is gender-based harassment and grounds for an investigation. That means that if a teacher calls little Johnny “he” when Johnny would prefer

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