Thursday, November 24, 2016

Profiles in Delusion - Betsy DeVos

WAKE UP AMERICANS* - If you care about public education you'd better get informed, up to speed and engaged.  No one else is going to do it for you ! 

The Faith-shackled crowd certainly know what they want to do with rational observation and fact-based learning, destroy it.  Replacing it with their favorite so-so tribal story telling, ...  self-certain, uncritical yarn spinning - that does nothing for preparing us to live with the future world we are ignorantly creating for ourselves.

Can someone say Critical Thinking Skills?

Democracy, live it or lose it.  America, it's your move.

For a more complete introduction see here.

* I apologize. I know current sensibilities demand everyone be coddled nonstop or I risk losing their attention.  But, I'm over thinking anyone deserves coddling anymore.  Let's get real,

How Trump Could Gut Public Education
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Trump hires Christian Fundamentalist who doesn’t believe in Public Education as Secretary of Education.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
What you should know about Betsy DeVos
Philissa Cramer.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Trump Names Anti-Gay Marriage Activist And Amway Billionaire Betsy DeVos To Be Education Secretary
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Secretary of Education Pick Betsy DeVos May Be a Disaster for Church/State Separation

November 23, 2016 by Hemant Mehta 

Donald Trump has selected Michigan Republican Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education. While that may sound like a relief when you consider the others who were in the running, DeVos’ appointment should frighten anyone who cares about church/state separation.

DeVos has been a longtime supporter of school voucher programs, which use the pleasant-sounding phrase “school choice” to take money away from public schools and leave them in the dust. (Trump elaborated on his vision of dismantling our public education system while on the campaign trail.)

More pressing on this website is the question of whether parents who want to send their kids to a private religious school would be given taxpayer dollars to do so.

There’s reason to believe she’ll want to make that an option, laws be damned. DeVos grew up in a Religious Right-loving home and gave money to organizations working to push Christian beliefs through the government. As Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Rob Boston wrote in a 2010 profile of her:

Growing up in the strict Calvinist Christian Reformed Church, Betsy DeVos’ antipathy toward public education may run in her blood. She comes from a politically active, socially conservative family. Her parents are Elsa Prince Broekhuizen and the late Edgar Prince, a Michigan couple that has funded the Religious Right for years.

The Princes have provided huge sums to both Focus on the Family and its quasi-affiliate, the Family Research Council (FRC). Even today, the FRC maintains a fulfillment center in Grand Rapids, where the Princes and the DeVoses are based. (Betsy DeVos’ brother, Erik, is notorious in his own right: He founded the controversial international security company Blackwater.)

DeVos needs to make clear that federal funds will not go toward supporting religious indoctrination. Because we know how bad things have gotten on that front in states where voucher programs have been implemented.

Her husband Dick DeVos, a former candidate for governor of Michigan and heir to the Amway fortune, has also backed Intelligent Design, the widely debunked pseudo-scientific theory that says some Higher Power must have created us (or at least parts of us) because evolution can’t possibly explain it. In 2006, when running for office, Dick DeVos said he wanted to see ID taught alongside evolution in science classes:

I would like to see the ideas of intelligent design — that many scientists are now suggesting is a very viable alternative theory — that that theory and others that would be considered credible would expose our students to more ideas, not less.

Exposing students to more good ideas is fine. But Intelligent Design is not a good idea, nor does it have any backing from credible scientists. Just as we would never waste time in math class teaching kids that 2 + 2 = 5, there’s no need to push Christian mythology into science class.

Would Betsy DeVos feel the same way? She should make clear that only real science, and not the fringe fake kind pushed only by Christians, ought to be taught in schools receiving federal funds.

It’s also telling that DeVos and her husband’s fortune comes from a business model that scams its own “employees.” (John Oliver did a terrific job last week explaining why you should avoid multi-level marketing schemes.)

If DeVos gets the chance to waste taxpayer money to fund more charter schools and create a nationwide voucher program, she’d be doing to our country’s children what her husband’s AMWAY company has long done to customers and employees.

How Trump Could Gut Public Education

He wants to redirect federal funds toward school vouchers—and his choice of education secretary shows he’s serious.

School-choice philanthropist Betsy DeVos is set to become Donald Trump’s secretary of education. The school choice movement that Trump has embraced is bipartisan; centrist Democrats and Republicans both tend to support public charter schools. But DeVos, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, represents the most conservative corner of the movement. She and her husband have funded a series of efforts to turn public school funding into vouchers for students to attend private schools. They have also fought to prevent charter schools, including for-profit charter schools, from being more tightly regulated.

The DeVos appointment signals that Trump is serious about the $20 billion school voucher plan he rolled out on the campaign trail. The proposal would redirect huge swaths of the federal education budget away from school districts and toward low-income parents, allowing them to spend a voucher at a public or private school of their choice, potentially including for-profit, virtual, and religious schools.

Trump hires Christian Fundamentalist who doesn’t believe in Public Education as Secretary of Education.

By Jameson Parker  |  November 23, 2016

As education news website Chalkbeat explains:

The DeVos influence is one reason that Michigan’s charter sector is among the least regulated in the country. Roughly 80 percent of charters in Michigan are run by private companies, far more than in any other state. And state authorities have done little up to now to ensure that charter schools are effectively serving students, eliciting concern from current federal authorities.

DeVos wants to do for schools what Republicans have done for prisons – go private, get profit.

DeVos’s fanatical quest to create a for-profit school system might be based in part in her desire to expose children to Christianity and avoid court-mandated science in the classroom. Private schools do not need to adhere to the same scientific standards that public ones do. Her own children, for example, do not attend public schools. They go to Christian private schools. Teaching things like climate change and the theory of evolution are not required.

One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century. Math teachers often set aside time each week — even in geometry and algebra — to explore numbers in the Bible. Students learn vocabulary with sentences like, “Many scientists today are Creationists.” …

What you should know about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary pick — and what her choice might tell us about his plans | Philissa Cramer.

Earlier this week, Chalkbeat compiled a few things we could reasonably surmise from a DeVos pick:
  1. Trump intends to go through with his sweeping voucher plan.
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to use federal funds to encourage states to make school choice available to all poor students, including through vouchers that allow families to take public funding to private schools.

That’s exactly what DeVos has zealously worked to make happen on a state-by-state basis for decades. In 2000, she helped get a ballot measure before Michigan voters that would have enshrined a right to vouchers in the state’s Constitution. After the measure failed, she and her husband formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationally. Less than a decade later, the group counted a 121–60 win-loss record.

One recipient of its support: former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who created the voucher program that Trump’s vice president-elect, Mike Pence, later expanded. Indeed, DeVos’s vision puts her more in line with Pence, who has supported private school vouchers for both low- and middle-income families, than with Trump, whose plan extends only to poor families.

Trump also vowed to promote publicly funded but privately managed charter schools. But DeVos, whose husband founded an aviation-themed charter school in their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has expressed reservations about them.

“Charter schools take a while to start up and get operating,” she told Philanthropy Roundtable in 2013. “Meanwhile, there are very good non-public schools, hanging on by a shoestring, that can begin taking students today.”

2. School oversight might not be the education department’s top concern.

DeVos and her husband played a role in getting Michigan’s charter school law passed in 1993, and ever since have worked to protect charters from additional regulation. When Michigan lawmakers this year were considering a measure that would have added oversight for charter schools in Detroit, members of the DeVos family poured $1.45 million into legislators’ campaign coffers — an average of $25,000 a day for seven weeks. Oversight was not included in the final legislation.

The DeVos influence is one reason that Michigan’s charter sector is among the least regulated in the country. Roughly 80 percent of charters in Michigan are run by private companies, far more than in any other state. And state authorities have done little up to now to ensure that charter schools are effectively serving students, eliciting concern from current federal authorities.

“There are a lot of schools that are doing poorly and charter authorizers do not seem to be taking the necessary actions to either improve performance or close those underperforming charters,” current U.S. Secretary of Education John King told Chalkbeat about Michigan last month.

3. The Common Core would remain a question mark.

DeVos hasn’t been outspoken about the Common Core, the shared learning standards adopted by most states in recent years. But some of her ties would suggest that she supports the effort to raise and standardize expectations of what students should learn in each grade. She’s on the board of Foundation for Excellence in Education, the group that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush founded to promote school choice and the Common Core.

On the campaign trail, Trump routinely denounced the standards — despite his having no authority to “repeal” them — in statements that won applause from conservatives and liberal parents and teachers alike. But his transition team said the meeting with DeVos “focused on the Common Core mission, and setting higher national standards and promoting the growth of school choice across the nation.”

The statement suggests a possible effort to achieve the standards’ goals without promoting the Common Core brand — exactly the middle path that many states have chosen as they revise the standards, often only lightly, and rename them.

4. The education secretary won’t be a counterweight to Republican officials.

Trump’s consideration of Moskowitz and Rhee, both self-identified Democrats, raised the hopes of some that the federal education department’s leader could counterbalance some more hard-right administration officials. (It also prompted one prominent education lobbying group to issue a statement calling on Democrats not to take a position in Trump’s administration.)

That hope would evaporate if DeVos is the choice, though there is some evidence that she is less extreme than some of the voices gaining prominence in Trump’s administration so far. For one, she did not support Trump even once he became the presumptive Republican nominee, throwing her vote as a party delegate instead behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Two years ago, she also publicly called for a Republican leader in Michigan to step down after he made anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

But she is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican party leader who has been more conservative on education issues than some of her colleagues. In fact, DeVos stepped down as chair of Michigan’s Republican party in 2000 after the Republican governor declined to support vouchers. (She later took the position back.)
Outside of education, her family gave heavily to efforts to ban same sex-marriage in Michigan.

5. DeVos will have to operate outside of most of the world she has known.

Many of DeVos’ successes have resulted from using her family’s considerable financial resources. DeVos family foundations reported lifetime charitable giving of more than $1.2 billion earlier this year to institutions ranging from hospitals to arts organizations. Political donations — to oppose gay marriage, support vouchers, and sway lawmakers from increasing oversight to charter schools — came on top of that. As education secretary, she would not be able to rely on her personal wealth and approach to get things done.

Instead, she would have to operate within a complicated web of interests and priorities, including with education officials in states that did not support Trump. Her work up to now has been largely within the Republican Party, but she has expressed confidence in the past about being able to cross party lines.

“What we’ve tried to do is engage with Democrats, to make it politically safe for them to do what they know in their heart of hearts is the right thing,” DeVos said in 2013. “Education should be non-partisan.”

Written by Philissa Cramer.


Trump Names Anti-Gay Marriage Activist And Amway Billionaire Betsy DeVos To Be Education Secretary
November 23, 2016

Her family is one of NOM’s most massive contributors. The Detroit News reports:
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he intends to appoint West Michigan GOP mega donor and philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be his education secretary, putting an ardent supporter of school choice in charge of the nation’s education policy.

DeVos, 58, is seen as a national leader in the school choice movement, which she has called an attempt to “empower” parents to find good schools for their children, whether they be traditional public schools in other neighborhoods, charter schools, virtual schools or private institutions.

DeVos is a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman whose husband, Dick, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2006. The DeVos family, heirs to the Amway Corp. fortune, are the most prolific donors to the Michigan Republican Party, GOP officeholders and candidates.

From a 2012 ABC News story:
The Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation, financially supported by Amway president Doug DeVos, donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an anti-gay marriage group that was one of the leading advocates against same-sex marriage initiatives in eight states. Because of that 2009 donation, gay rights activist are calling for a boycott of Ada, Mich.-based Amway, a health and beauty products company, and its affiliates including the Orlando Magic basketball team, which DeVos’ father and Amway co-founder Richard DeVos owns.

DeVos and her husband also donated $200,000 to Michigan’s ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage. ...

Rationalists, progressivists humanists, sciencie Americans, 
you can't say Trump didn't warn you.
Recall Hitler forewarned Germans too ~ 
too few paid attention back then, 
it can happen again.

 A stitch in time saves nine !

Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech

This post about the long term strategy for privatizing the public schools takes on fresh importance in light of the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. -- FC

Right-wing think tanks have determined that school vouchers are key to eradicating public education and Dick and Betsy DeVos lead the way in execution of the well-funded plan. The money is tracked in two extensive reports on Talk2action [1 and 2]. DeVos video excerpt below fold.

"We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities," Dick DeVos warned in a December 2002 speech at the Heritage Foundation. DeVos was introduced by former Secretary of Education William Bennett and then proposed a stealth strategy for promoting school vouchers in state legislatures.  DeVos and his wife Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that were soundly rejected by voters.  

Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to "dismantle" public schools; the DeVoses persevered.  Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide "rewards or consequences" to state legislators, learning from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local "grass roots" entities and could not be "viewed as only a conservative idea."  DeVos added, "This has got to be the battle.  It will not be as visible."

Ten years later, the DeVos stealth strategy has been implemented and is winning the voucher war in several states.  As recommended to the Heritage Foundation in 2002, the public face of the movement is bipartisan and grass roots, and millions of dollars are poured into media firms to reinforce that image. However, behind the scenes the movement continues to be led by the DeVoses, and the funding used to provide "rewards or consequences" for state legislators continues to be raised from a small group of mega-donors.

Dick DeVos is the son of Richard and Helen DeVos, major funders of the Republican party and of numerous "free market" think tanks.   The DeVos fortune was made through Amway, the multi-tiered home products business. Betsy DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince of Blackwater notoriety and the daughter of Elsa and the late Edgar Prince, major funders of Religious Right political activism.

The 2002 DeVos Speech

In his 2002 speech, DeVos claims that the only remaining defense against school choice programs is the argument that they hurt public schools.  
He responds,
"What is the purpose of a school today?  Because if the purpose is to educate children, how can we hurt it [public education] anymore than it's already hurting.  If the purpose of schools is to provide employment security for teachers and administrators then that pretty much defines the priority of a system that ought to die because it's not serving our children."
DeVos maps out a four-point strategy for advancing publicly financed parental choice programs.

1 "Clarification of the Blaine Amendment" 
2 DeVos argues that these amendments are blocking the field of play.  He credits the Institute of Justice for fighting the state Blaine Amendments.  (Blaine Amendments were adopted in a majority of states and forbid the use of public funds for sectarian institutions.)  
3 "Communicate the message that school choice works and helps public schools."
4  DeVos then qualifies his statement by asking the audience to quit using the term public schools and use "government schools" or "government-run schools" instead.
5 "We need to target our ability at state level to deliver rewards and consequences to legislators on school choice issues." 
6 DeVos later describes Michigan's example for fighting the battle at the state level and in state legislatures. 
7 "Better coordinate the efforts among school reform groups.”

DeVos describes the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) led by Betsy DeVos, which he states personally interviewed 140 political candidates in Michigan to assess their attitudes toward education reform and to provide for "rewards and consequences."  DeVos credited this effort for reducing the Michigan House Republicans in the anti-reform group from six to two and for injecting school choice into political debate.  "Candidates were forced to establish positions on educational reform," states DeVos describing the need for "rewards and consequences" for state legislators. …

[Full speech at link. ]




For Separation of Church and State

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Americans United, or AU, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, Americans United works in the courts, in Congress and state legislatures, at the White House and in the arena of public opinion.

Americans United addresses an array of pressing issues. We encourage you to learn about our projects, lawsuits and out-of-court successes. For a detailed account of AU activities in the past year, check our Annual Report. You may also want to read our Form 990. These documents are also available here.

AU is led by Executive Director Barry W. Lynn and governed by AU's Board of Trustees.

If you share our commitment to church-state separation, please join with us today. We welcome your support in this important cause.

For Separation of Church and State
browse the archives:

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education pick, is a billionaire with deep ties to the Christian Reformed community

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey November 23, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Betsy DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist with deep ties to the Christian Reformed community in Michigan, as his education secretary.

DeVos is politically known in Michigan for her push for private school voucher programs, a position that has been controversial within public education circles. But in religious circles, the DeVos name is synonymous with key philanthropic efforts in Christian communities. DeVos, 58, graduated from Calvin College, a Christian Reformed Church school that is named after the famed Protestant reformer John Calvin, where the DeVos name is well-known.

The DeVos family, heirs to the Amway Corp. fortune, are prolific donors in Michigan Republican and religious circles. DeVos is a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman whose husband unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2006

Trump picks billionaire Betsy DeVos, school voucher advocate, as education secretary
By Emma Brown  |  November 23, 2016

Betsy DeVos is hardly a household name, but the Michigan billionaire and conservative activist has quietly helped change the education landscape in many states, spending millions of dollars in a successful push to expand voucher programs that give families taxpayer dollars to pay for private and religious schools.

Now DeVos is poised to spread her preference for vouchers nationwide. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday named her as his nominee for education secretary, a pick that suggests he aims to follow through with campaign promises to expand the movement toward “school choice” — including vouchers and charter schools — in an effort to break up a public education system that he has called “a government-run monopoly.”

Trump’s pick has intensified what already was a polarized debate about school choice. …


5 Things to Know About Betsy DeVos, Trump's Pick for Education Secretary 
By Emily Deruy, November 23, 2016

The prominent Michigan philanthropist is an ardent supporter of charter schools


Trump Picks Betsy DeVos, Daughter-In-Law Of Billionaire Amway Cofounder, For Education Secretary


By Jameson Parker, November 23, 2016




What is a Scientific Theory? Scientific Law? Scientific Hypothesis?

What is a Scientific Theory? Scientific Law? Scientific Hypothesis? These are important and common questions.
A lot of information from various sources, discussing the Laws of Physics and other matters.
A scientific law or scientific principle is a concise verbal or mathematical statement of a relation that expresses a fundamental principle of science, like Newton's law of universal gravitation. A scientific law must always apply under the same conditions, and implies a causal relationship between its elements.

A law differs from a scientific theory in that it does not posit a mechanism or explanation of phenomena: it is merely a distillation of the results of repeated observation. As such, a law limited in applicability to circumstances resembling those already observed, and is often found to be false when extrapolated.

Many of our resources, publications and materials are applicable to all professions and across all domains of thought. We do, however, recognize that the depth and breadth of content we offer may be daunting. We have therefore created the following pages as starting points for your studies.

No comments: