Bad News Betsy

On Wednesday, President-Elect Donald Trump became the latest leader in a succession stretching decades into the past to prove that it matters not who is in charge: the Big Education Agenda – the real agenda – is all but indestructible.

With his pick of billionaire Betsy DeVos for the role of Secretary of Education, Trump signaled either his willingness to go along with the war being waged on our children by the Education-Industrial-Complex, or his ignorance of what is actually happening to our schools.

Either way, the troops march on.



 Despite claims that she opposes Common Core (an assertion that is not only dubious but also, given the Core’s ability to morph into whatever form it desires, largely irrelevant), DeVos is decidedly devoted to the cradle-to-grave, data-driven workforce development system that has been in the works since at least the 1950’s.

 This agenda, as I have written previously, is a chameleon – easily blending into its ideological surroundings depending on whom it is being marketed to.

Hillary Clinton, for example, spoke of her desire to expand “community schools,” leading many to believe that her priority would be investing in traditional, locally operated public schools.  With billions of dollars in support from foundations like the Gates-funded Knowledgeworks Foundation and its subsidiary, StriveTogether, however, the term “community schools” has recently taken on a whole new meaning.

Across the nation, corporate and Wall Street-driven organizations are building data-sharing networks that, they hope, will allow the “community” – any business or nonprofit, corporate or otherwise, that is standards-aligned and willing to gather and share data with our Wall Street and government overlords – to actually be the school. Toting “data backpacks” with them from one locale to the next, the hope from on high is that most children will do most of their “learning” by way of virtual or “blended learning” programs.

Now, Trump and DeVos are promising more “school choice,” while leaving the masses to imagine, as Hillary did, what this might mean.

And so, as parents picture using their tax dollars to choose between the French immersion school on the corner and the Catholic school down the street that eschews all the heavy-handed federal mandates that burden their local public school, they are deliberately diverted from the fact that “school choice” will very likely look nearly identical to what I just described above: a system in which children will receive vouchers, or Educational Savings Account (ESA) debit cards, that can be used anywhere that is standards-aligned and data-minable. Most “learning” will happen virtually, as that is where the real money can be made and real Skinnerian brain-washing can occur.

(By the way: when you hear hand-wringing from our national union leadership over the DeVos appointment, ask them why they signed onto this document, which describes the system above nearly to a tee.)

Recently, Mrs. DeVos told Philanthropy Roundtable:

“It seems to me that, in the internet age, the tendency to equate ‘education’ with ‘specific school buildings’ is going to be greatly diminished.”

She also said that “digital learning is in its infancy relative to the influence that it can and will have.”

(Now take a look at what happened recently in DeVos’s home state of Michigan, where low-income students in Detroit were used as guinea pigs in an all-but-undercover plot to develop and market digital learning software.)

It should come as no surprise, then, that Senator Lamar Alexander, who sponsored the wretched reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act that is chock full of all the sticks and carrots and embedded legislation to kick this long sought-after vision into high gear, is so pleased with the DeVos pick.

Back in 1991, Alexander told EdWeek that he envisions a system where “school districts don’t have the exclusive monopoly to operate what we call public schools.”

Sound familiar?

Now, Alexander says he is eager to work with DeVos on the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Which means we are in serious trouble.




Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

7 thoughts on “Bad News Betsy”

    1. QUOTE: “It seems to me that, in the internet age, the tendency to equate ‘education’ with ‘specific school buildings’ is going to be greatly diminished.”

      If we read this at core meaning, Betsy DeVos is right – ‘education’ in the internet age starts long before children attend school buildings. Education centuries before the internet age started long before entering school buildings with the soft skills we are at risk to forget.
      The soft skills children need start to build up by seeing adults in their care spending their time with the children (and not all of them playing separate 3 minute games on their separate iphones/tablets or other) not realizing that the “child care” is not used for care.

      Let’s teach the parents to block all programs and games not appropriate for their children and install parental control in the iphone/tablest and everything used in the home)s to limit 30 minutes game time per day – the rest of the day can be used for the skills needed to play, interact by all means with humans at any age level.

      Install the same limit of game time in the caretaker’s paid time what you are paying for and turn off every device for the time a family is spending together.

      All of us have joint responsibility to see that the benefits of the internet age is used to benefiting the children who we care/educate and shield them from the destruction of the internet age.


  1. You included a link to this telling document that mentions seat-time:

    Click to access A-Transformational-Vision-for-Education-in-the-US-2015-09.pdf

    • Clear structural obstacles, such as “seat-time” requirements, to allow for “local experimentation” with the support of district and state actors (p. 11)

    Disrupting seat-time by creating Districts of Innovation is being adopted by more than 100 districts across Texas.


  2. You hit the nail on the head when you note that avowing opposition to the Common Core — or, I would suggest, ANY element of school reform— is always “an assertion that is not only dubious but also, given the Core’s ability to morph into whatever form it desires, largely irrelevant…”


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