Why it was so easy for ‘60 Minutes’ to rebut Betsy DeVos’s charter-school arguments

“In places where there is a lot of choice that’s been introduced,” DeVos told CBS’s Lesley Stahl, “Florida, for example, studies show that when there’s a large number of students that opt to go to a different school or different schools, the traditional public schools actually, the results get better as well.”

This is DeVos’s core case. Introducing charter schools forces public schools into the sort of competition you see in the free market, forcing the public institutions to improve. It’s a market-based proposal for solving the endemic problem of low-performing schools. Florida, DeVos argues, is an example of where it works.

But Stahl was prepared for this.

“Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?” Stahl asked. Michigan is a key litmus test because it’s the place where DeVos’s pre-government advocacy was centered. DeVos stumbled over a response.

“Your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in Michigan,” Stahl said. “Where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.” She later added, “The public schools here are doing worse than they did.”

DeVos didn’t have much of a response except to point to “pockets” where schools had improved (without identifying any).

.. A 2009 study from the Rand Corp. found “little evidence that the presence of charter schools affects the achievement scores of students in nearby traditional public schools either positively or negatively.”

NYTimes: Betsy DeVos Editorial

her hard-line opposition to any real accountability for these publicly funded, privately run schools undermined their founding principle as well as her support. Even champions of charters, like the philanthropist Eli Broad and the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, opposed her nomination.

.. The charter school movement started in the United States two decades ago with the promise that independently run, publicly funded schools would outperform traditional public schools if they were exempted from some state regulations. Charter pioneers also promised that, unlike traditional schools, which they said were allowed to perform disastrously without consequence, charters would be held accountable for improving student performance, and shut down if they failed.

.. She indicated that she was skeptical of Education Department policies to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges — a position favored, no doubt, by Mr. Trump, who just settled a fraud case against his so-called Trump University for $25 million. It was not clear that she understood how various student loan and aid programs worked, or could distinguish between them.

.. Maybe they couldn’t ignore the $200 million the DeVos family has funneled to Republicans, including campaigns of 10 of the 12 Republican senators on the committee that vetted her.

DeVos’ Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades

Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states.

Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test

.. Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test

.. Critics say Michigan’s laissez-faire attitude about charter-school regulation has led to marginal and, in some cases, terrible schools in the state’s poorest communities as part of a system dominated by for-profit operators. Charter-school growth has also weakened the finances and enrollment of traditional public-school districts like Detroit’s

.. “A lot of people use the phrase ‘Wild West,’ but there are a lot of places where the Wild West is working quite well,” said Matthew Ladner, a senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute

A Great Opening

President Nixon’s great regret was that he did not bomb Hanoi and mine Haiphong in 1969—instead of waiting until 1972—and bring the Vietnam War to an earlier end and with fewer U.S. casualties.

.. There is nothing to prevent the new GOP from writing history.

.. Folks in Pennsylvania, southeast Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia should be shown, by executive action, that Trump is a man of his word. And when the mines open again, he should be there.

.. He should order new actions to seal the Southern border, start the wall, and begin visible deportations of felons who are in the country illegally.

.. With a new education secretary, he should announce White House intent to work for repeal of Common Core and announce the introduction of legislation to put federal resources behind the charter schools that have proven to be a godsend to inner-city black children.

.. Trump should announce a date soon for repeal and replacement of Obamacare and introduction of his new tax-and-trade legislation to bring back manufacturing and create American jobs.

.. Donald Trump said in his campaign that that this is America’s last chance. If we lose this one, he said, we lose the country.