SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence made history by casting the tie-breaking vote that would confirm Betsy DeVos as the nation’s education secretary. Those in Congress who opposed DeVos’ nomination cited her lack of experience in the educational sector, exclusive private schooling and absence of a degree in an academic field. DeVos argued that the American education system is broken and needs rebuilding. “I don’t have any qualifications or relevant degrees or knowledge of public schools or any meaningful experience whatsoever,” she said. “And you put me in charge. That shows how intellectually compromised we are as a nation. The only answer is to destroy the system and await the glorious rapture of a new, blessed kingdom of alternative learning.” DeVos has already proposed radical reforms, including the introduction of a virtual cognitive enhancement process called Common Neurocore, loosely based on Britain’s Ludovico Technique, which “retrains the brain.”
DeVos Educating Educators on the IssuesNow that DeVos has slithered through the harrowing crags of her congressional Symplegades, the question becomes not “how on Earth could this have happened?” but “how much will actually change for America’s 50 million public school pupils and 20 million university students?”
Trump nominated DeVos to uphold key tenets of his 100-Day Plan. The new administration seeks to push through every item on the agenda.
School Choice and Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to a planned national expansion of Trump Universities, the exclusive educational institutions of America, Inc. These facilities will include Trump Toddlers, Trump Teens, Trump Trade (real estate major), and Trump Triumph of the Troubled, a sort of “Hope High” for losers and low-income loser families.
Given the limited power of her office, and the GOP’s desire to eradicate it, critics of DeVos may get to breathe a sigh of relief. However, the situation does not preclude or hinder her ability to bring about some dramatic reforms. It is simply too early to tell how DeVos’ influence over the Department of Education will alter its current course, but we can examine her stated plans and her fitness to guide the federal agency.
Eliminating Cumbersome Regulations Such as Title IXAs NPR reported, “The Higher Education Act is up for reauthorization. Three issues that may come up early in a DeVos Education Department: the role of for-profits, college costs and enforcement of Title IX (which governs sex discrimination, including sexual assault cases).”
DeVos, as a free market champion, recognizes that overarching regulations simply restrict a school’s ability to operate at the highest level. She seeks to liberate administrators from crippling bureaucratic constraints such as Title IX. DeVos told Congress during her hearing that it would be premature to assume she would uphold the 2011 rule that requires colleges to assist in preventing on-campus sexual assaults.
“If we force universities to get involved in stopping rapes, which also means expelling the offenders, we risk losing some of the nation’s brightest white athletes,” DeVos said. “We no longer have Brock Turner as a result. Any more losses could create an embarrassing disaster for us in the Olympics -- and on the world stage. If such a rule had been in place during the 1960s, it’s entirely likely that Donald Trump would not be president today.”
Replacing Communist Equality Doctrines with Fiscal CalvinismDuring Trump’s campaign appearances in San Narciso County, Betsy DeVos spent several days with our own educational reform pioneer, School Board Commissioner Marissa Olden-Whitely. In June 2011, Olden-Whitely and Josiah “Rob” Daunch, an unemployed electrician who co-chairs the board, implemented a series of groundbreaking conservative overhauls, including the passage of amendments that paved the way for textbooks to highlight the underrated achievements of conservatives, emphasize the role of Christianity in American history and include alt-right political philosophies. DeVos told the Evening Transcript that she plans to expand this approach on a national scale.
Along with Daunch, DeVos referenced liberal failures such as Social Security, the New Deal and the Great Society as catalysts for the revisions.
“The opposition and its activists -- you know, historians -- argue that these initiatives ended the Great Depression, but we disagree,” Daunch said. “The Great Depression wasn’t a problem at all. It was an economic weeding out of the infirm and the under-performing. Had liberals let the market take care of itself, America would have emerged with one class of nothing but wealthy citizens. A missed opportunity, really.”
On the subject of reducing tuition, DeVos scoffed and dismissively remarked that, “There’s nothing in life that’s truly free.” She supports an economic thinning of the herd in education, heralding a new era of market-based pricing. DeVos, who enjoyed a strict Calvinist upbringing, described the idea as less “social Darwinism” and more “fiscal Calvinism,” where the truly chosen prevail while all others perish in the hellfire of their own kindling.
DeVos and Daunch also blamed Affirmative Action for America’s low academic performance ratings among other developed nations. Rather than continuing to promote bigoted policies that target race, gender and ethnicity, DeVos believes the educational system must perform as a meritocracy. Daunch enthusiastically agreed.
He said, “If we do nothing in this country but talk about how everyone can have a level playing field, we set unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes among minorities. When they inevitably fail, doesn’t it seem that we’ve done more harm than good? The government shouldn’t be responsible for making sure their glass always seems half full, when in reality it’s just a few drops of malt liquor in an otherwise empty Dixie cup.”
“When you realize that white people did all the work building this country,” DeVos added, “it just makes the other races feel bad. We’ve given them a pretty good ride. Affirmative action, sharecropping, railroad industry jobs, cheap education, and what have they given back? Not much, considering the strain on the welfare system.”
Vouching for GodAs Mother Jones revealed, DeVos has demonstrated “long support of vouchers for private, religious schools; conservative Christian groups like the Foundation for Traditional Values, which has pushed to soften the separation of church and state; and organizations like Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which has championed the privatization of the education system.”
Educators across the country worry that DeVos intends to fight for a predominantly voucher-based system that rewards private religious institutions and excludes public schools from critical funding. They also fret over the implications that biased religious studies, specifically those grounded in fundamentalist Christianity, could displace programs that teach hard science.
DeVos has not shied away or disputed the allegations. “Absolutely, I believe our schools need to be teaching God’s truth, not Stephen Hawking’s or those guys who dig up ‘dinosaur’ bones,” she said. “It’s time we put His Story back in History. And let’s face it, we’re going to be embroiled in a global holy war for decades to come, against Christ killers, Nietzsche, pagans, atheists and jihadists. If we are to achieve victory, our children -- our future soldiers -- will need to embrace the hateful, vindictive values that define the Lord’s will, which have been misrepresented by a lot of hippie love talk.”
Definitive TextsAcademic publishers, DeVos argued, have made fortunes selling textbooks to U.S. students of all grades. Not only are the materials costly, they are generally slanted toward liberal ideologies and unproven scientific theories. DeVos has pledged to cut through the dissonance and disinformation by mandating two texts for all K-12 students: the Bible and Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.”
Even more exciting, school children will soon have direct access to President Trump, who will host regular Q&A type lectures in classrooms via Twitter. In the future, DeVos’ company Neurocore plans to unveil an artificial intelligence chatbot called Trumper. DeVos demonstrated a prototype conversation between actual scholars and Trumper.
STUDENT: I am an LGBT person. What rights and civil protections will I have in public schools under this administration?
TRUMPER: Go back to Africa where you started AIDS, and infect your own kind.
STUDENT: Every reputable scientist has offered undeniable evidence to support evolution and climate change.
TRUMPER: Wrong. Such as nasty woman. You are a woman, right? Who else would ask such a dumb question?
STUDENT: Can you help me understand the quadratic equation?
TRUMPER: One billion illegal Muslim immigrants are entering this country to vote against me. That’s the real math, which lying media and teachers are covering up.
STUDENT: Is it true that light can actually escape from a black hole?
TRUMPER: You’re fired. We’re defunding NASA and the EPA and other useless stuff. If you want to make money, spend less time worrying about black holes and more time working out Black-Scholes. I’ve got some friends at Goldman Sachs who can help. But if you’re really obsessed with black holes, just head into any inner city and grab one. Hehehe.
Retrain the BrainPerhaps the most powerful arrow in DeVos’ quiver will come from the launch of an interactive, video-based learning system she helped pioneered at Neurocore. As the New York Times explained, “The treatment offered by Neurocore, a business in which Ms. DeVos and her husband, Dick, are the chief investors, consists of showing movies to patients and interrupting them when the viewers become distracted, in an effort to retrain their brains.”
According to DeVos, faulty and confusing Common Core programs will be phased out to make way for Common Neurocore. Students are fitted with special optical devices that pry open their eyes, while educational videos are played. Some of the videos contain accurate information, while others depict intentionally erroneous data. Through a process of compassionate aversion therapy, students learn to filter out negative facts and embrace truths, in an expedited and highly visceral manner.
“For example, we show a gay pride parade,” DeVos explained. “If students’ vital signs show interest or some level of approval, a powerful emetic is released into their bodies, forcing them to gag and vomit and retch. Now we show them Islamic extremists being waterboarded. Some amount of horror and discomfort would be acceptable. But if they experience a heightened sensation of security, the Neurocore system rewards them with an infusion of tasty beverages from Trump Grill.”
Common Neurocore, DeVos clarified, is incredibly nuanced. At advanced stages, the system incorporates critical thinking, moral judgment and problem-solving exercises.
“I’m really intrigued by this one scenario,” she said. “We run videos that simulate Hitler’s troops butchering Jews in concentration camps, followed by Mussolini’s military rampaging through the streets of Italy. But, we also force the children to watch footage of the tremendous technological, economic and social accomplishments these leaders spearheaded. Hitler’s engineers brought us some of the biggest engineering advances in history. He restored a sense of national pride and patriotism, ended inflation and curbed a population explosion that was out of control. Mussolini made the trains run on time. At optimal performance, Neurocore would expect to reward both a negative response to the gruesome crimes against humanity and a positive reaction to the construction of the autobahn.”
Fitness for Duty and Conflicts of InterestDevoid of any government experience, DeVos will be responsible for running a federal bureaucracy with 4,400 employees and a $68 billion annual budget. She touted her own success in wealth management as a qualification to administer the large department.
“I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,” DeVos wrote in a 1997 Roll Call guest column. “I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return.”
Opponents in government branded DeVos’ pithy admissions as evidence of a conflict of interest. DeVos discounted the criticism and celebrated the statement as a guiding principle of modern education.
“What are we teaching America’s youth if not to succeed in competitive global markets?” she asked. “They don’t need science or literature or art. They need to understand business. They need to understand politics. They need to learn how systems of barter, trade and exchange work. You don’t get something for nothing. It takes prayer, connections and paying for services rendered. Ask your son what he would rather be: an impoverished adjunct professor at some dying community college or an executive on Wall Street, pulling down multi-million dollar bonuses. The Department of Education must empower students to succeed, not settle.”
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