Friday, July 10, 2020

DeVos and Trump Throw Cyberschools Under Bus

Here is Betsy DeVos speaking as part of a coronavirus task force presentation back in March:

Learning can and does happen anywhere and everywhere.

It's a sentiment that she has expressed numerous times in connection with the idea that technology could be the brand new key to better education. As in, cyberschool or its fancier name, "virtual learning." She has been a fan for years.

And here she is in April, announcing a new grant competition for three different categories of educational endeavors (emphasis mine):

1) Microgrants for families, so that states can ensure they have access to the technology and educational services they need to advance their learning
2) Statewide virtual learning and course access programs, so that students will always be able to access a full range of subjects, even those not taught in the traditional or assigned setting
3) New, field-initiated models for providing remote education not yet imagined, to ensure that every child is learning and preparing for successful careers and live

Now, here she is last Tuesday, from her conversation with the governors about what the hell to do next:

According to the Associated Press, Devos addressed ideas like distance learning and limited classroom instruction. She found neither of these acceptable, saying instead that schools must be “fully operational” when they reopen for the new school year. Specifically, she insisted that schools should be prepared to offer five days of instruction per week. 

And here's Donald Trump early this morning on the Tweeter:

So if I were a cyberschool operator, I might be a bit nervous at the moment, what with that big ole bus parked on top of me and all.

It's always possible that any day now, the administration will simply blink and say, "What do you mean? We think virtual learning is terrific and everybody should have some."

But for the time being, it appears that the policy of Let's Make Everything Look As Normal As Possible Before the Election is shoving aside Let's Replace Public Schools With Privatized Cyberschool Operations. Stay tuned to see where the bus goes next.


  1. Yes! I'm glad you addressed this. I was going to comment on one of your older posts about the hypocrisy of this situation. I thought cyberschools were the best thing since sliced bread?

    Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

  2. I dunno. While I won't credit DeVos with any particular intellectual acumen, she does have a certain savage cunning brilliance when it comes to politics. I'm wondering if this is akin to Diane Ravitch's challenge to charter schools to take over an entire district. Of course that's not what she really wants, it's just a way of poking - "you can't do it, can you?" - to make the charters look bad.

    I wonder if DeVos is only pretending to want full-time, in-person school as yet another way to undermine public schools. I think she knows full well the challenges like those that have been discussed endlessly in education circles, so she's thrown down her gauntlet. "If teachers are so important, prove it by showing up full time." If they can't/won't do it, I think you'll see her with a smug, "see, virtual schools are the way to go after all, right?"

    And a further advantage (for her) is that many private schools may be able to pull it off (especially the elite ones) because they have such low student-teacher ratios, large campuses, ample resources, etc. So, see? Private schools are better than public schools.