Betsy DeVos vs Al Franken

Al Franken stated, “It’s not a job for amateurs who don’t know the first thing about education.”
 
Franken also stated, “This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years,” Franken said. “It surprises me that you don’t know this issue.”
 
What I know of the issue is that the U.S. spends an average of $11,000+ annually for every child in school — far above the global average — yet still ranks below the following countries in Math, Reading, and Science:
 
Czech Republic
Chile
New Zealand
Romania
Israel
Singapore
Poland
Peru
Chinese Taipei
Ireland
 
So, is our education system broken?  Given the massive spending and less than stellar performance, YES, IT IS BROKEN, and clearly, the Demoncrappic paradigm of throwing more money at the problem will NOT solve it.
 
Lauren Camera, an education reporter at U.S. News & World Report, also a 2013 Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, noted that “increasing access to early childhood education” and “improving training and professional development for teachers and boosting the rigor of academic standards” are proven approaches for countries trying to curb their numbers of low performers.
 
Betsy DeVos’ approach to education includes fostering charter schools and alternatives such as the Montessori approach for young learners, while improving public school education along the lines mentioned above.
 
Let’s see how much DeVos knows about education while simultaneously learning whether Franken knows anything about Betsy DeVos or whether he’s merely talking out his backside:
 
DeVos is well-educated:
 
– DeVos was educated at the Holland Christian High School, a private school located in her home town of Holland, Michigan.
 
– She graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science, and was “involved with campus politics,” according to Philanthropy magazine
 
DeVos has good moral principles:
 
– DeVos grew up as a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. She has been a member and elder of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids.
 
DeVos has long been active in politics:
 
– Since 1982, DeVos has participated in the Michigan Republican Party.
 
– Bill Ballenger, editor of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics and a former Republican state senator, called DeVos “a good behind-the-scenes organizer and a good fund raiser” as well as “a true believer in core Republican issues that leave nobody in doubt on where she stands.”
 
DeVos is a successful businesswoman in her own right:
 
– DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989.
 
DeVos is a philanthropist:
 
– The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation was launched in 1989. The foundation’s giving, according to its website, is motivated by faith, and “is centered in cultivating leadership, accelerating transformation and leveraging support in five areas”, namely education, community, arts, justice, and leadership. The foundation’s donations have been focused largely on funding Christian organizations and Christian private schools.
 
DeVos fully supports the performing arts:
 
– DeVos was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2004, and served until 2010. While she was on the board, she and her husband funded a center to teach arts managers and boards of directors how to fundraise and manage their cultural institutions.
 
– In 2009, DeVos and her family founded ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
 
DeVos has long been involved in education activism (reforming our broken education system):
 
– DeVos believes education in the United States should be opened up to for-profit charter schools, and she has stated that education is “a closed system, a closed industry, a closed market. It’s a monopoly, a dead end.” DeVos believes that opening up the education market will offer parents increased choice, a view that critics call a drive to privatize the American public education system.
 
– DeVos is known as a “a fierce proponent of school vouchers” that would allow students to attend private schools with public funding.
 
Her approach to “opening up” education exactly mirrors what we know of business economics, that competition is GOOD for the consumer, as it forces the producer to get it right. Monopolies and oligopolies suffer from little to no competition, which results in a serious disincentive to innovate, be competitive, or improve. Right now, despite the fact that our education system is the most highly funded of all, we’re not among the top performers. That is BROKEN. Opening up our education system to new schools with challenging and inspiring curricula is GOOD for America. Far from being left in the dust, public schools here in Colorado have greatly benefitted from Colorado’s full support of charter schools and school vouchers.
 
DeVos fully supports school choice, as do most parents:
 
– DeVos served as chairwoman of the board of Alliance for School Choice. Her other activities on behalf of public-school reform have included membership on the boards of directors of the Advocates for School Choice, the American Education Reform Council, and the Education Freedom Fund.
 
– During the 1990s, she served on the boards of Children First America and the American Education Reform Council, which sought to expand school choice through vouchers and tax credits. She and her husband worked for the successful passage of Michigan’s first charter-school bill in 1993.
 
All of the above doesn’t cover a third of Betsy DeVos’ efforts towards helping improve America’s system of education.
 
BOTTOM LINE, Al Franken… Betsy DeVos has CORRECTLY identified what’s WRONG with America’s education system and has, for nearly thirty years, worked TIRELESSLY to correct it. She is by far the BEST choice for the
 
Meanwhile…
 
“Franken’s daughter, Thomasin, is director of extended learning at DC Prep, ‘A Charter School Where Learning Has No Limits.’ “
 
Gee… I wonder what she thinks of her blow-hard father?
 
Franken was elected as a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) is a social liberal political party in the U.S. state of Minnesota.
 
It looks to me, however, that he’s spent a great deal of time in comedy and acting. Perhaps he should stick to those endeavors, instead.

Solving America’s Problems Requires Clear Thinking

Yesterday I stumbled across a rather insightful editorial by Bart Hinkle at the Richmond Times.  He demonstrated such clear thinking that I wrote the author a letter, presented here with minor corrections for spelling, punctuation, and grammar:

I found your recent article to be very insightful.  It is a fascinating look at what ails America today. It boils down to dereliction of duty to “support and defend the Constitution” at ALL levels of government.

I concur with you that Congress has failed to do its duty to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” almost certainly because the loyalty of many Congressman to their party or various idealistic excursions has increasingly eclipsed their loyalty to the proven reality of the Constitution.  Sadly, we see the same thing in the Supreme Court, which should never be the case.  With respect to the points you made in your article, I believe additional factors have come into play, including the increasing fear of being labeled politically incorrect, and the corresponding unwillingness to take necessary and more permanent actions against elected officials who refuse to abide by “the supreme Law of the Land.”

Shortly after retiring from my career as an Air Force officer, I began working to educate people on the dangers facing our nation, particularly from the erosion of the absolute moral base our Founding Fathers cautioned was essential to the long-term health of our nation.  With such a moral base, even an imperfect Constitution and its resulting society would survive, as leaders would retain the same principles, precepts, and moral values held by the framers.  The resolution of unanticipated issues would naturally incline towards the time-tested precepts which have served our nation so well for so long.  Without such a moral base, even a perfect Constitution would eventually fail.  A nation lacking proper morals would be increasingly opposed to Constitutional principles and values, until its leaders began ignoring increasingly larger portions of the Constitution, eventually leaving it behind altogether.

Our Founding Fathers did a miraculous job crafting our Constitution.  It is extremely difficult, however, if not impossible, to create a legal foundation capable of fighting the erosion of society when that society’s elected and appointed leaders, either out of ignorance or willful malice, fail to follow the written legal foundation.

In light of this perspective, I submit to you three additional avenues of failure, along with some proposals for amendments that might be able to stem the flow of our nation’s life-blood, even restore proper function in the presence of decreasing loyalty to the Constitution:

Failure 1:  Education of the people:  Sadly, too many Americans are voting for government officials at all levels not because of what a candidate can do for their country, but because of what a candidate can do for them.  This self-seeking behavior and failure to delay gratification ultimately results in poorer results.  Candidates are rarely able to deliver on their campaign promises.  When a person believes rhetoric promising him or her a better life, and votes for that candidate, they wind up doing little to work hard and secure that life for themselves.  Instead, they wait around for the candidate to make their lives better.  When that fails, they become embittered at the “other guy” their candidate blames as the problem, or they become embittered with the system itself.

The Department of Education and liberal school systems has been largely complicit in this area of demise by lowering and even eliminating the bar in vital areas like civics and history while cluttering the educational landscape with requirements that eclipse a child’s opportunity to obtain a full, well-rounded education suitable for understanding how human society really works.  This is really the root problem of what’s going on in America.  If the people stopped electing those who are undermining our Republic, the problem would largely disappear.  Our Republic would be preserved.  Sadly, many people are no longer capable of correctly assessing the worth of a candidate, or envisioning the long-term effects of electing a candidate.

Possible solutions:  Eliminate the Department of Education and use those funds at the state level to provide for a more graduated pay scale for teachers instead of the current rise and cap pay curves; raise standards required of teachers; ensure those standards reflect the requirements addressed as outlined above.

Failure 2:  Personification of the corporate:  No serious student of the Constitution would ever conclude that our Founding Fathers meant to give business the same access to our government as We the People, much less a 1000% greater influence over Congressional decision-making.  The fallout from this decision has lead to increasingly darker decisions being made by Congress, ones that treat citizens as cattle to be mined for their ability to be skimmed for a fat, corporate/federal profit, instead of the rightful rulers of our once-great nation.

Possible solution:  Check Citizens United with an amendment that declares corporate anthropomorphization to be verboten.  Ensure it reaffirms the Constitution’s focus on We the People under sovereign States as the rightful owners of our own country.

Failure 3:  Senators and Representatives are too similar.  This arose as a result of the 17th Amendment.  Article I, Section 3, which used to read:  “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof…”  The Amendment now reads:  “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof…”  While I understand this was an attempt to solve problems involving legislative corruption and deadlocks, I do not agree it was the best solution.  For all intents and purposes, what we now have are a House and a Senate that look very similar.  Even dividing Congress into two houses makes little sense when the people elect one Representative from their district and two more to represent the State as a whole.  Why not instead simply elect “general Congressmen,” and scrap the two-house system?

Possible solution:  Repeal the 17th Amendment.  The original issue is that “There was a sense that senatorial elections were ‘bought and sold’, changing hands for favors and sums of money rather than because of the competence of the candidate.”  That sounds the same as it is today, so what problem was actually solved?  If none, then that’s strike one against the 17th Amendment.  As far as electoral deadlocks, the solution is simple:  Require states to provide for a tiebreaker, much as we have for the Supreme Court and the Senate.  An example might be, “In case of tie, the Assistant Governor will cast the tie-breaking vote.”  They could also flip a coin, roll die, or spin a wheel.  States could choose whatever method they want, so long as it’s expedient.  To help deter delays in breaking such ties, simply stipulate that if the states fail to provide two Senators, those positions will simply remain unfilled and the State will be underrepresented in Congress, something no State wants to face.  Our Constitution set the precedence for that by requiring percentage votes of “members present” for many things, including very important things, such as treaties and impeachment.

Bart, I thoroughly enjoyed your article and have bookmarked you in the hopes of reading many more to come!

Sincerely…

Here is Bart’s response:

Thank you for the note. You raise some very interesting points.

All the best,
B.

It was my pleasure.