In the State

What’s The Deal With Betsy DeVos? Some Facts On Michigan Schools To Contemplate Before Tuesday’s Vote

On Tuesday, congress will be voting on whether or not to confirm Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary. Depending on how the vote goes, she’ll be the person steering the ship on education, at least nationally.

There’s already been a whole lot written on DeVos. It seems everyone on the planet has weighed in on the women. Especially, after last week’s fumbling confirmation hearing, which brought such gems as: “I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” when asked about her views on guns in schools. 


(For the record, No. This is not how elementary schools in Wyoming deal with grizzly bears)

Hilarious grizzly bear memes aside, while there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about DeVos’ record — for example, her support of what fellow edu blogger Philly principal Sharif El-Mekki calls “Wild West style charter authorization”as with much of the politics surrounding education, some of the hype is seriously unreal. I mean that in the literal sense. I’ve seen articles that paint her as some demonic force bent on destroying public education. I’m not kidding: here’s one of them

With so much conflicting information being thrown around by both detractors and supporters, it’s hard to get a good read of DeVos’ record.

To cut through some of the noise, a group called BelIwether Education put together a report on Michigan schools — a school system that DeVos has been involved with through her pro-charter advocacy work.

Here’s some highlight from the report:

  • Michigan Schools typically rank in the lowest third of states in proficiency, and state assessment results show wide achievement gaps by racial/ethnic group and income level
  • Reading achievement for Michigan students has stagnated; 4th-grade scores now fall below national average
  • Only 35 percent of Michigan 11th grade students are college-ready according to the SAT
  • Education authority in Michigan is highly decentralized, with multiple state entities and over 40 charter authorizers (Compared to Connecticut, which only has one)
  • Graduation rates for Michigan students have increased over the past 5 years, but still, fall below national averages
  • Michigan has one of the nation’s largest charter sectors: 10% of students attend public charter schools. Detroit has the largest share of students in charter schools: 53%
  • Michigan public charter schools enroll a much larger share of black and low-income students than the statewide average
  • While charter school quality varies, on average charter have a significant learning advantage over comparable traditional public schools.

To take a look at the full report: Here’s a link




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