By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education has come under attack from the teacher’s union and the educational establishment for her well-documented support of school choice. Her record shows she is a strong supporter of charter schools and vouchers that allow public school students to attend private schools of their choice. However, some conservatives say that Ms. DeVos has been a long standing supporter of Common Core Standard (CCSS) and that she has shown support for Islamic indoctrination as part of school curricula. Ms. DeVos will come up for a Senate committee vote tomorrow, January 31st.
According to Education Liberty Watch:
“Betsy DeVos’ first statement against Common Core was the day she was appointed. She never worked with and frequently opposed Stop Common Core in Michigan, the grassroots parent organization. All of the organizations she has founded, funded, chaired or on the boards of which she served have been strong supporters of Common Core. Michigan Republican legislators knew to not to oppose Common Core because they could expect a primary challenge by DeVos-funded groups. The charter, voucher, and Title I portability programs she supports most, all require the state Common Core tests.”
According to Breitbart News which at one time was headed by Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, Ms. DeVos was a long time supporter of Common Core:
“Parents, educators, and grassroots activists across the state of Michigan know exactly who DeVos is and her position on Common Core,” Karen Braun tells Breitbart News the day after DeVos joined Trump in Grand Rapids at a “Thank You” tour stop in her state.
“We’re not fooled by a single, carefully parsed statement on a webpage that she is ‘not a supporter – period,’” she says. “We know the truth. We experienced it first hand. So have many Michigan lawmakers; but for some reason they continue to stay silent and give DeVos a complete pass. Loyalty to DeVos trumps loyalty to the truth, apparently.”
The DeVos nomination drew immediate support from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who was an early and devoted supporter of Common Core. Some say that his support for Common Core may have been a major contributor to his defeat in the presidential primary. CCSS is tremendously unpopular with parents, and has failed to lift learning. At least 5 states are moving to repeal CCSS. It is most certainly politically toxic.
If Ms. DeVos has moved away from CCSS to another better standard, all well and good. But the senate committee would do well to delve into her position on CCSS and whether a Federal role in state standards is appropriate.
Education Liberty Watch has also stated that Ms. DeVos has supported a pro-Islam curriculum. Organizations like the Council for American Islamic Relations and the Muslim Brotherhood have been deeply involved with classroom instruction and textbooks like World History Pearson that present a falsely positive view of Islam to indoctrinate uninformed school students.
The lesson about Islam from DeVos sponsored Next Lesson state:
“This activity examines the origins and contributions of the Arab people. Through a series of questions, it probes students to think about who is Arab and about our preconceptions of Arabs. Through a series of exercises that rely on geographical, religious, and historical questions the students are able to broaden and specify their understanding of what is an Arab citizen of the 21st century world. This is the first and touchstone lesson of a larger Bridges of Understanding curriculum that is comprised of an additional ten lessons dealing with various aspects of Arab culture. We encourage all teachers to start with this lesson and then to choose a path forward that you deem most beneficial for your classroom.”
It is not clear from this site whether the information rises to the level of Islam-biased indoctrination or simply informational background about the Islamic world. It would certainly be appropriate for the Senate Committee to delve into these matters with Ms. DeVos.