In episode #44, sociologist Carla Shedd steps into the Have You Heard studio to talk about the complex interplay between school choice, segregation and gentrification in the unequal city she calls home: New York. You may remember Shedd from a previous appearance on this page. I interviewed her a few years back about her book Unequal City about Chicago. And if you’re a fan of Have You Heard and want to help us keep the podcast going, we’ve got a Patreon page now where you can do just that!
Has it really been a whole year since VP Mike Pence cast his tie-breaking vote, making Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education? Congrats! You survived – and DeVos remains Trump’s least popular cabinet official. In this episode of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack reflect on DeVos’ first year, a task they prepared for by watching, reading, and listening to WAY too many DeVos speeches. (Note: don’t try this at home, or in close proximity to sharp objects). Their top takeaway: after 365 days, DeVos remains misunderstood and misunderestimated. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you will experience the 46 longest seconds of your life – and still have many minutes to go in the episode!
I’m responsible for the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Are you?
18th century political and moral philosopher Joseph de Maistre said every country gets the leader it deserves. More recently, professor and public intellectual Tressie McMillan Cottom pointed out there are no innocent parties in the expansion of market-based education. That’s over two centuries of wisdom firmly identifying us, *We the People,* as just as responsible for the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education as President Donald Trump.
How are you or I responsible for the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education?
It was President Trump who picked her, which makes sense, as his own for-profit education company defrauded thousands of students. But you and I also helped DeVos get to her position. We’re implicated too, despite our protest of the selection of a woman who has used her financial and social capital to undermine public education. My contribution to Betsy DeVos’ appointment is that I consistently failed to pay attention to what was occurring in public education. Continue reading →
Betsy DeVos’ top advisor led a for-profit university that defrauded students and hoovered up federal student aid. Now Robert Eitel is tasked with *right-sizing* the Department of Education. What could possibly go wrong?
Jennifer Berkshire: This week Betsy DeVos announced that she was tasking one of her top advisors, Robert Eitel, formerly of Bridgepoint Education, Inc., with overseeing the *right sizing* of the Department of Education. Bridgepoint has something of, um, an interesting backstory that I’d like you to walk us through. Start in 2005 when the company purchased a nun-run Iowa college and blew it up into an online behemoth.
Christopher Crowley: So Bridgepoint Education was started by a group of former University of Phoenix executives who were able to get Wall Street seed money and then used that money to buy a small college in Iowa called the Franciscan University of the Prairies. When Bridgepoint bought the college in 2005, there were around 300 students enrolled, taught mostly by the nuns who founded the school. Bridgepoint changed the name of the school to Ashford, and by 2010 there were more than 80,000 students enrolled, mostly online. That’s huge. Continue reading →
Don’t believe me? Pay a visit to Betsy DeVos’ hometown…
To see for yourself how school choice leads to segregation, I recommend a visit to Betsy DeVos’ hometown of Holland, MI. Here, two decades of the policies that the Trump/DeVos education budget now wants to take national have resulted in white flight and school closures, leaving Holland’s poor and minority students segregated in the few schools that remain open. I traveled to Holland last week for the annual Tulip Time festival, a celebration of the city’s Dutch heritage. But along with Dutch shoes and swagger, the legacy of Michigan’s now two decade-long experiment with school choice was on vivid display as well, and it wasn’t pretty.
First, some background. During the endless runup to DeVos’ confirmation hearing last year, it was the Wild West-style school choice she’d pushed in Detroit that garnered most of the attention. But DeVos was also behind Michigan’s inter-district choice policies that, starting in 2000, *disrupted* neighborhood attendance zones, just as the proposed Trump/DeVos education budget seeks to do. In Michigan, school choice has become the new white flight as white families have fled their resident districts for schools and districts that are less diverse. The most dramatic example of this may be in DeVos’ own home town of Holland. Continue reading →