As the battle both for and against Betsy DeVos to be the next Secretary of Education hurdles into its final hours, all 48 Senators who caucus with the Democrats are opposed to her. (This includes two Independents.)
In spite of the fact that DeVos is the least qualified person to ever been nominated for this slot and in spite of the fact that she has generated more feedback to Congressional offices than ever in history, she will likely be confirmed with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie.
But my Democrat friends seem to be forgetting two names. Arnie Duncan and John King.
Duncan was President Obama’s basketball playing friend he put in as his first Secretary of Education. And though he did have some education credentials from his work with Chicago schools, he was hardly a friend to public education. He is the one who conjured up Race To The Top, a program that dumped millions upon millions of dollars into some states and hog-tied them to endless regulations and jumping through hoops.
(I well remember Alabama scrambling to apply for this grant and a friend at the state department of education who was working on this effort telling me of how fearful he was of what would happen should Alabama be chosen. While his fears were real, they were unwarranted as Alabama feel woefully short in the scoring of applications.
(I also recall how hard then Governor Bob Riley was pushing for Alabama to adopt charter school legislation because he thought it would strengthen our grant application. Someone at a work session asked the governor how students would be chosen to attend a charter and he told them “with a lottery.” And I thought it very strange that a governor who was dead set against any type of gambling was OK with gambling with the lives of children.)
When Duncan stepped down, President Obama replaced him with John King from New York, the former head of public education in that state and someone who had been under constant attack from public school advocates there.
Point being that while DeVos is bad, so were Duncan and King. Yet Democratic senators engineered their confirmations–not opposed them.
So when it comes to putting children above politics, ain’t no white hats in Washington on either side of the aisle.