• 61°

Cal Thomas: DeVos ‘will not be deterred’ in changing education

DeVos

American public school students fall well behind students around the world in math and science proficiency. This is not debatable. According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, both cited in The New York Times in 2012, “Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science, although American fourth-graders are closer to the top performers in reading.”

In California, the number of credentialed math and science teachers is actually declining, reports the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Newly installed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos believes at least two factors have contributed to these and other problems in American education — lack of school choice and the failure of top-down policies dictated by Washington.

During an interview in her office Monday, DeVos cited one example: “This department just invested $7 billion trying to improve failing schools and there were literally no results to show for it.”

A U.S. News and World Report story in 2015 confirms her view that there is little connection between academic achievement and the amount of money spent:

“The U.S. spends significantly more on education than other OECD countries. In 2010, the U.S. spent 39 percent more per full-time student for elementary and secondary education than the average for other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.”

DeVos wants to give more power to the states to set their education priorities: “I think the more states and locales are empowered to innovate and create and are unencumbered by unnecessary regulations and sort of beaten into compliance mentally vs. a can-do and results-oriented mentality, it’s been repeatedly demonstrated that any type of top-down solution, no matter where you try to employ it in government, it’s not successful.”

While acknowledging that resistance from teachers unions and some members of Congress is strong (she notes the hypocrisy of those members who can afford to send their children to private schools, yet oppose allowing poor children and their parents to choose better schools), she believes a growing number of people are getting behind school choice: “We had an example of that in Florida where over 10,000 parents and students marched in Tallahassee against (a) lawsuit that the teachers union had filed, which of course, has been dismissed, thankfully.” The lawsuit tried to block a school voucher program.

DeVos cites data she says shows that particularly low-income parents “at a level of almost 75 percent to 80 percent embrace the idea of giving more choices and empowerment.” She notes that while school choice for all is the goal, the Every Student Succeeds Act (a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which established the American federal government’s expanded role in funding public education) has a provision “that will allow states that are particularly innovative to implement some choices … on a very local level. And I am very much going to encourage them to take the ball and run with it as far as possible.”

DeVos believes that not teaching values and character development in our relativistic and politically correct age is a “significant factor” contributing to lack of achievement in many schools. She also says she has found a few “moles” (my word) in the department who are committed to her not succeeding and pledges to do whatever can be done to render them ineffective.

DeVos believes the protests during and after her confirmation were not “spontaneous, genuine protests,” but are being “sponsored and very carefully planned. We’ve seen enough written that they want to make my life a living hell. They also don’t know what stock I come from. I will not be deterred from my mission in helping kids in this country.”

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

Comments

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT

Nation/World

D-Day survivor, WWII torch bearer Ray Lambert dies at 100

Nation/World

Prince Philip was always defined by role as husband of British queen

BREAKING NEWS

One dead, several injured after head-on collision in China Grove

Crime

Man, woman charged for selling drugs to undercover deputies

Crime

Blotter: Rowan County man charged with indecent liberties with children

Local

Spencer town board gets look at Park Plaza progress

Business

‘Applicant market’: Unemployment rate improving as businesses hire more workers

Local

National, local business leaders praise Salisbury’s initiative to support Black-owned operations

Nation/World

Tillis has prostate cancer surgery

Coronavirus

Adverse reactions surface from Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Nation/World

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

Local

Quotes of the week

Nation/World

Biden seeks crackdown on homemade firearms

Nation/World

Victim of former NFL player’s rampage wrote of faith, life’s fragility

News

Wrongly imprisoned man gets $750,000

High School

West falls to Statesville, finishes second in NPC

Education

Middle, high school students head back to classes full time