Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos: Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage

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Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos: Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage

Short may their reign be.

Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos

Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos

America’s public schools are in crisis.

Because people make money when America’s public schools are in crisis.

And who sits atop this mountain of bribery and malfeasance?

Who gives the money that buys the politicians who make the laws that hurt the kids and profits the donors?

It’s none other than Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage!

Systemic underfunding, laissez-faire segregation and privileging privatization – this is what our children face every day.

It’s time we as a nation stop, take a moment – and offer our hearty congratulations to this years most pernicious saboteurs.

And what a year it was for disrupting education!

Charter schools, voucher schools – no one has benefited more from chucking the public school model in the trash in favor of control by corporations and bureaucrats than Betsy DeVos.

Because she’s both a dark money influence peddler AND a government flunky!

A two-for!

She turned complete ignorance and animosity toward public schools into the highest federal government job overseeing education! Her only qualification? CA-CHING!

But coming up right behind Ms. DeVos is this year’s crowned king.

He certainly knows a thing or two about CA-CHING!

It’s Bill Gates!

Progressive philanthropist by day, by night he transforms into the largest single purveyor of palm grease in the nation. No one has turned tax avoidance into influence more than Gates, the money behind the Common Core, evaluating teachers on student test scores and a plethora of irrational, untested ideas that are only considered mainstream because they have literally trillions of dollars behind them.

So there you have it, America! Your Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage!

Let’s take a closer look at these… winners.

DEVOS

As U.S. Secretary of Education, she’s proposed cutting $10 billion in public school funding, announced changes to make it harder for college students to report sexual assaults, and put struggling university students at risk of higher debt payments with changes to student loans.

But that’s child’s play for the billionaire heiress who married into even more money.

Now she’s planning to weaken the rights of students with disabilities.

That’s right – Jason Vorhees, Michael Myer, Freddy Kruger, they all went after those pesky post-graduate teenagers. But none of them had the audacity to go after kids with learning disabilities!

It’s not that DeVos is undoing any laws. She’s erasing decades of government guidance about how the laws are to be interpreted. And though she claims these 72 directives are simply “outdated unnecessary or ineffective,” she’s not replacing them with anything else. They’re just – gone.

Of the 72 guidelines, 63 affect special education and 9 affect student rehabilitation. And these aren’t simply undoing the work of the Obama administration. Some of these regulations have been in place since the 1980s.

The rescinded policies include “Satellite Centers for Independent Living,” “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs and Activities Receiving or Benefiting From Federal Financial Assistance,” and “Information on the Provision of Vocational Rehabilitation Services to Individuals With Hearing Loss (Deaf and Hard of Hearing).”

Bah! Who needs all this paperwork?

Parents and students. That’s who.

These guidelines have helped parents of disabled and special education children advocate for their young ones’ rights. Without them, it may be more difficult for parents and teachers to ensure all children are receiving a free and appropriate education.

That’s some seriously stone cold sabotage, Ms. DeVos!

But at least her motivation is obvious to anyone with eyes.

She’s not purposefully making the lives of K-12, special education and college kids more difficult. Well, she is, but she’s not doing it out of spite. She’s doing it because it helps her investment portfolio.

How can she continue to promote charter and voucher schools that don’t provide the same kinds of quality services for special education and disable students as public schools do? She needs to degrade what the public schools provide, thereby making the privatized alternatives more marketable.

How can she keep making money off predatory lenders unless she loosens the rules to allow them more freedom to gorge on student debt? And how can she keep her lucrative job bending the rules in her favor unless she throws some red meat to the racists, misogynists and anti-Semites who helped elect her boss into the Oval Office?

And if kids get hurt, well those aren’t the people she’s looking out for, are they?

She’s only out for the other rich elites like herself making a mint off of our public tax dollars!

It’s almost enough to make you miss Arne Duncan.

Almost…

(Nah. Not really.)

GATES

Bill Gates, on the other hand, is more contrite.

His Common Core initiative has kind of exploded in his face.

No one likes it. NO ONE.

In fact, it was one of the key talking points President Trump used to garner support. The public’s hatred of Democratic plutocracy made them suckers for the Republican variety.

The problem isn’t so much political. It’s economic.

It’s rich people who think they can do whatever they want with the rest of us and our children.

More than anyone else, Gates is guilty of that kind of unexamined, unrepentant hubris.

Yet to hear him talk, after a string of education policy disasters, he’s learned his lesson.

He’s sorry – like a crack addict is after hitting rock bottom. But he’ll somehow find the courage to light up again.

Gates now admits that the approximate $2 billion he spent pushing us to break up large high schools into smaller schools was a bust.

Then he spent $100 million on inBloom, a corporation he financed that would quietly steal student data and sell it to the corporate world. However, that blew up when parents found out and demanded their children be protected.

Oops. His bad?

He also quietly admits that the $80 million he spent pushing for teachers to be evaluated on student test scores was a mistake. However, state, federal and local governments often still insist on enacting it despite all the evidence against it. Teachers have literally committed suicide over these unfair evaluations, but whatever. Bill learned a lesson.

When it comes to Common Core, though, Bill refuses to take his medicine – even to mouth the words.

By any metric, these poor quality uniform academic standards are an abject failure. He spent hundreds of millions of dollars for development and promotion. He influenced trillions of taxpayer dollars to be poured down the drain on it. All to no avail.

Instead, he’s quietly backing away. No explanation. No apology. Just on to something new.

Kind of like: “That didn’t work. Let’s try something else!”

His new plan – spend $1.7 billion over five years to develop new curriculums and networks of schools, use data to drive continuous improvement, and give out grants to high needs schools to do whatever he says.

What’s so frustrating is that Gates shows glimmers of self-awareness.

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade,” he said during a speech at Harvard in 2014.

But then when he sees it isn’t working, he just doubles down on the same crap.

While he may not be committed to any one policy, Gates is committed to the idea that he knows best. Whatever nonsense bull crap that floats through his mind deserves to be tried out on a national scale.

No asking experts. No asking teachers, parents or students. Just listen to me, Bill Gates, because I’m rich and that makes me better than you.

No, it doesn’t Bill. It makes you just like Betsy DeVos.

So there they are. Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage.

Short may their reign be.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they made.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Steven Singer

Steven Singer

Steven Singer is a husband, father, teacher, blogger and education advocate. He often writes at his own blog here.

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