Author: Rebecca Klein

Trump Promised To Repeal Common Core. These Parents Don’t Plan To Let Him Forget It.

Donald Trump wasn’t Stacey Gyorgyi’s first choice for president ― but when she stepped into a Georgia voting booth and placed a ballot for him in November, she was hopeful. Gyorgyi, a mother of two elementary-aged children, is deeply involved in public education activism, and after Trump repeatedly spoke on the campaign trail about his desire to dismantle the Common Core State Standards, he seemed like the best hope for creating the type of change she believed in. Now she’s not so sure. During the campaign and in the weeks following his election, Trump’s pledge to end the Common Core, a set of education goals that has stirred controversy on both sides of the aisle, became a popular refrain, often greeted by thunderous applause. But since taking office, the president seems to have dropped the topic, anti-Common Core activists say. Now those same activists are working together to challenge Trump to keep his promise. Groups like the Patriots Journalist Network, a collective of conservative Twitter activists, have rallied around hashtags like #EndCommonCore and #KeepYourPromise, creating viral campaigns to get the attention of other conservatives and, they hope, of Trump himself. Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at the American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, said that the many voices of Common Core opposition have been routinely ignored by Democrats and Republicans alike for years. Consequently, she is certain they will not...

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Trump Makes His First Visit To A School As President, And It’s A Private Religious One

President Trump made his first visit to a school as president on Friday, amid reports that he is planning an expensive and widespread federal school choice program. He did not visit one of the traditional public schools that 90 percent of American students attend. Instead, he spent the afternoon in a private Catholic school that participates in Florida’s tax credit scholarship program. That program gives tax breaks to corporations and individuals who donate money to a scholarship granting group. This group, in turn, helps low-income kids attend private schools. Trump’s visit has been seen as a show of support for programs like Florida’s, which make it easier for students to attend private schools. He has signaled his support for such programs before, although it is unclear what a school choice initiative from his administration would look like. Trump visited the school with an entourage, including U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. He visited a fourth-grade classroom and participated in a roundtable discussion with school leaders. St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando serves students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. The school’s website says: “our goals are simple: College and Heaven.” While at the school, Trump highlighted Denisha Merriweather, a young woman who enrolled in a private school through Florida’s school choice program. Earlier in the week, Merriweather was one of his...

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Betsy DeVos Accused Of ‘Whitewashing’ The History Of Black Colleges

  Many historically black colleges and universities were formed in response to systemic discrimination that kept African-American students out of white institutions, but Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos thinks they are a great example of “school choice.” After meeting with leaders of these institutions at the White House on Monday, DeVos released a statement that some leading academics, politicians and rights groups are calling an inaccurate and offensive retelling of history. In her statement, DeVos praised HBCU’s for providing opportunity to black students during a time when “there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.” “They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution,” says the statement from DeVos, published Tuesday. “HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.” In truth, many HBCU’s were formed as a matter of necessity when white supremacist structures systematically denied black students access to mainstream educational institutions, says University of Pennsylvania Professor Marybeth Gasman. “I found the statement to be completely ahistorical,” said Gasman, who studies HBCUs. “It completely ignores slavery, it completely ignores Jim Crow, segregation, oppression, mass discrimination across the country, it ignores our entire history. It’s a whitewashing...

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Betsy DeVos’ Nomination Clears Senate Committee, Despite Staunch Democratic Opposition

A Senate committee voted to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education Tuesday. The vote was split along party lines, with all 11 Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voting to reject DeVos, and all 12 of the committee’s Republicans voting to approve her. Next, DeVos faces a full Senate vote. Two Republican senators on the HELP Committee, Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), suggested that they were not sure how they would vote at that point. “I have not been persuaded that Betsy DeVos will put students first if she were confirmed and I have not been persuaded that she has the experience, skills, understanding or vision to lead this critical department at a time when it is more important than ever,” committee ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Tuesday before the vote. “There is so much about Betsy DeVos’ record over the years that we can look to when we make this decision.” Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesThe Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to advance the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. DeVos has inspired staunch opposition from some Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups. Although her vote in committee was originally scheduled for last week, it was delayed so lawmakers would have more time to review the paperwork she filed with the Office of Government Ethics. DeVos...

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Teachers Union President: Betsy DeVos ‘Has Tried To Take The Public Out Of Public Education’

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers union, on Monday excoriated President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, calling Betsy DeVos “the most anti-public education nominee in the history of the department.” “Betsy DeVos lacks the qualifications and experience to serve as secretary of education. Her drive to privatize education is demonstrably destructive to public schools and to the educational success of all of our children,” Weingarten said in a speech at the National Press Club in which she laid out priorities for public education. The AFT endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the campaign, and Weingarten has long been a close personal ally of the former secretary of state. The union came out against DeVos, who has never worked in a public school, when Trump named her as his education secretary pick in November. Weingarten spoke specifically about the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which passed with delicate bipartisan support to replace the long-expired No Child Left Behind Act. She called DeVos “a billionaire with an agenda” who could reignite “education wars” between Democrats and Republicans. “If DeVos is confirmed — if she shatters this hard-won consensus, if she reignites the education wars — she will demonstrate that her ultimate goal is to undermine public schools, the schools that 90 percent of American children attend,” Weingarten said. Teachers unions have warned that DeVos’ favored education initiatives operate...

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Donald Trump Is Already Having A Horrible Impact On America’s Schools, According To New Report

Images of Swastikas mysteriously appear on blackboards and etched into school furniture. Kids bully other students over their racial and ethnic backgrounds. Students as young as fourth grade use words like “pussy” and “slut.” This is what it is like to go to school in Donald Trump’s America, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The report, based on an unscientific survey of educators all over the country, details what 10,000 school employees saw in the days following Trump’s election. The dynamics relayed by the educators “are nothing short of a crisis and should be treated as such,” says the report. A vast majority of surveyed teachers report seeing increased rates of racially charged bullying, increased trauma and fear from targeted students, and less of a sense of community in diverse schools. Those who did not report these dynamics typically came from more racially homogeneous schools. The study follows a similar report from the organization released several months ago, which also provided anecdotal evidence of increased rates of bullying in school as a result of Trump’s campaign. Educators said the new dynamics are unlike anything they’d ever seen before. Ninety percent of educators who participated in the new survey said the president-elect has had a negative impact on their students. Eighty percent reported seeing heightened levels of anxiety from students who come from groups that have been targeted in Trump’s...

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Trump’s Pick To Lead U.S. Public Schools Didn’t Graduate From Public Schools

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary is a conservative billionaire who attended private schools and appears to have little personal experience with traditional public education. Betsy DeVos, who Trump on Wednesday named to lead the U.S. Department of Education, has poured millions into promoting charter schools and education vouchers. She will head federal policy for the nation’s nearly 100,000 public schools if confirmed to the Trump administration cabinet post. DeVos’ history suggests little familiarity with traditional public schools, which educate the vast majority of U.S. students. She graduated from a private, Christian high school in Michigan, and attended a private college, according to Yahoo. Her four children also attended private, Christian schools, according to the education news site Chalkbeat. DeVos has never worked in public education, the outlet reported. Instead, DeVos has worked to expand support and access to school vouchers and charter schools, which are privately run and publicly funded. DeVos, who is married to an heir of the marketing company Amway, has given millions to promote expanded access to school-choice options. That includes vouchers, which allow children to use public money to attend private schools. Trump said during the campaign he supports vouchers and charter schools, and will be “the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice.” Trump’s choice of DeVos cheered advocates for charter schools and voucher programs. “Throughout her career Mrs. DeVos has worked to empower parents and give families...

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The NAACP Takes A Major Stand Against The Growth Of Charter Schools

The NAACP board of directors voted Saturday to confirm a resolution that recommends an end to the expansion of charter schools, which currently educate about 6 percent of the nation’s public school students. The controversial move has angered charter school activists and faced criticism from the editorial boards at The New York Times and The Washington Post. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated. Minnesota passed a law creating the first legislated charter school in 1991, and since that time, the number of charter schools has ballooned to about 7,000 all over the country, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In recent years, these schools have faced criticism for their sometimes harsh discipline practices, lack of oversight and accountability and for siphoning resources away from traditional public schools. At the same time, studies have shown that students ― especially disadvantaged students ― who are educated in charter schools make slightly larger gains in reading than their peers, although results vary widely depending on the school and state. In late July, delegates at the NAACP national convention voted on a resolution that calls for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools. On Saturday, the NAACP board ratified this resolution. “The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools ― as well as today’s data and the present experience...

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