Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calls for School Choice, Pro-American history curriculum, girls’ sports and opening schools

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Education Secretary Betsy DeVos touted Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) School Choice Now Act, the 1776 Commission, girls’ sports and reopening schools during a Oct. 7 national telephone conference call with the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles.

“Parents throughout the nation are taking a greater interest in education than ever before,” said Ed Martin, President of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles who moderated the phone call. “As schools grapple with a measured response to COVID-19, mothers and fathers want to know what America’s Department of Education is doing for them” and as voices rise for “parents to be in charge of education.”

“Phyllis Schlafly, called education ‘the biggest and most inefficient monopoly,’” said Betsy DeVos in her opening phone remarks. “COVID has revealed a sorry state of K-12 education on whether children are or are not learning. Some are stuck with no options or way out.

“We’re fighting for more choice; for more options; and freedom for all students as the President promised in 2016. We want local family control.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also touted the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which is the bipartisan education act signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10, 2015 that she claims “ended Common Core” and reauthorized the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) signed into law by President Lyndon Jonson in 1965 and in effect, replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001/2002 which supported standards-based education reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals could improve individual outcomes in education.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was a U.S. Act of Congress that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; it included Title I provisions applying to disadvantaged students. It supported standards-based education reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals could improve individual outcomes in education.

While ESSA retained annual standardized testing requirements, the law moved accountability from the federal government to the State government.  However, the States still submit an accountability plan to the Education Department but local educational agencies may apply for subgrants for local accountability plans.

“Today, we are looking for parents to have school choice. More families support school choice than ever before. Three out of four families want their education dollars to follow their children, especially Black parents (73 percent) and Hispanic parents (71 percent).

“We want the same thing for their children. We like federal tax credits, tax saving plans, vouchers and more public charter schools, especially in opportunity zones. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) knows that students need more access to options right now. Parents need the freedom of choice to make the best choice for their children. We are raising voices for school choice now.”

Questions to the Education Secretary:

John Schlafly: “Many of our members were thrilled by the recent speech of President Donald Trump when he spoke and said: “It is child abuse what children are being taught lies about history and not what is good about America.” I understand that your department cannot mandate or prescribe a curriculum for schools; but what can we do to support the President on what children are being taught about in school?”

Betsy DeVos: “The 1776 Commission (announced by presidential executive order on Sept. 17 to promote patriotic education and counter the revisionist history like the New York Times 1619 Project) process is ongoing.  It helps bring renewed focus on what many parents say is the real lack of understanding of history and civics. This generation and future generations (need) to have a base of what makes America unique and exceptional. A lot of what we see is the result of decades of decline.

“We focused on math and reading and have done very little on civics and history. This has been a real awakening for a lot of people to see what plays out on the streets. The lack of knowledge of history and now that parents are seeing first-hand what their kids are or are not learning (gives us an idea) of what we need to do for our children’s future.”

Sue Thompson (Education Reporter): “We see the political bias of teachers unions calling for defunding of police as a condition of sending kids back to school. How can we be a real instrument of righting these situations?”

Betsy DeVos: “The Los Angeles Teachers Union is very blatant about their demands before considering in-person school: Universal Health Care and Defunding Police. We need to empower all parents. Their monopoly will be ultimately broken. We need to get parents involved in school board elections and get involved in local governance. Those boards are very unresponsive to their constituents.” 

Tammy Nichols (Idaho Legislative Leader): “We appreciate the protection given to girl sports of unfair competition by biological males. How can we respond to transgender rights as it applies to girls’ sports and Title IX?” 

Betsy DeVos: “The Office of Civil Rights is investigating the Connecticut Athletic Association which refuses to acknowledge our interpretation that girl means ‘biological girl.’ Girls need to compete against biological girls.”

Woody Woodrum (California Tea Party): “Will you take a moment to address this pandemic and how it disrupts K-12 education to families?”

Betsy DeVos: “Every family, every child has been impacted by the effect of the COVID crisis. There has been and uneven application of distance learning. For many weeks, many students went without any continual learning to speak. Some data shows that less than a quarter of students would learn any new material after they closed in mid-March.

“Many schools have not taken their customers: students and families into consideration and have given them very little choice or no choice.  Think about students with disabilities who need in-person therapies. I am hearing from their parents that they are losing much of what they gained through the last academic year.

“That is why we have seen the growth of school choice—educational freedom—giving parents control over their educational resources so they can find the right fit for their children. We are seeing a massive increase in homeschooling with the development of pods—small micro-schools—and all other types of situations. In an unexpected way, this can bring about the change we need to see for K-12 education.”

Rebekah Gantner (Phyllis Schlafly Eagles Executive Director): “Private and parochial schools have been closed because of this pandemic. How can School Choice assist these schools from closing?”

Betsy DeVos: “Over 100 Catholic schools have had to close down. We need to set up a tax credit pool, to provide scholarships to what many States are doing.”

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].


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Michael A.

LA teachers union. What a cruel joke. Most of the students in those schools are children of immigrants. Easy pickings for indoctrination by commies. It’s a good reason why California sucks in so many ways. The commies always said, start early in the indoctrination. It looks like they accomplished that.