Wednesday, January 15, 2020

DeVos: Remote Work Bad, Remote School Good

Betsy DeVos has long been a fan of cyber-schooling. Her husband was an investor in K-12, the cyber-charter behemoth, way back at beginning of the millennium (we can start saying that now, right?) Back when she was still running the American Federation for Children, she had this to say

Families want and deserve access to all educational options, including charter schools, private schools and virtual schools. States are well ahead of Congress on this and their efforts should be encouraged and supported. Twenty-three states plus DC have 48 publicly funded private school choice programs; 43 states have charter school laws; and virtual schools are growing across the country. Greater innovation and choice will contribute to better K-12 educational outcomes for our children.

AFC often spoke out in favor of cyber charters, and DeVos has continued to advocate as Secretary, even as the dismal results rolled in.

DeVos has been an unwavering supporter of remote schooling. But her support for remote work stops at the doors to the Department of Education.

One of the Trumpian initiatives (under the general banner of "Grampaw Says That Back In Has They Didn't Need That Stuff") has been to clamp down on remote working. Per the Washington Post:

President Trump’s government is scaling it back at multiple agencies on the theory that a fanny in the seat prevents the kind of slacking off that can happen when no one’s watching.

The initiative is government-wide, and so includes the Department of Education, where DeVos fully supports the notion that remote work is bad. Despite a survey suggesting the desired results weren't happening, DeVos decided to stay the course, because she believes that remote work is damaging to collaboration, communication and productivity.

Is there some cognitive dissonance evident here? Not necessarily. It would be in keeping with the DeVosian approach to believe that all public employees (aka those slackers who have been insulated from God's own free market private enterprise system) are probably lazy public teat-suckers who need to be kept under the hammer. This would include government workers and public school teachers. Also, there would be some hypocrisy involved if DeVos were advocating for cyber schools because she thought they actually did a good job. But the language quoted above is typical of DeVos on the subject-- she almost never argues that cyber-schools should exist because they educate children so very well. She just wants that choice to be available.

This little paired text exercise just reminds us that when DeVos says "parents should have choices" what she means is "business people should be free to tap this market any way they want to." They may be making a buck by marketing junk, but that's their God-given right.

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