Thursday Reading List: #BetsyWithTheGrizzBear

The interwebs digested the Betsy DeVos hearing, and everyone has a lot to say. I'll share my thoughts on the topic later today (likely on another site), but this morning's reading list will be an all-star summary of reactions to #BetsyWithTheGrizzBear.

Vox's Matt Yglesias says that DeVos is a weak nominee, and that her selection was an unforced error:

It would be relatively easy to find a person with roughly DeVos’s views on education policy who also has the traditional background of an education secretary in politics or public sector school administration. Instead, Trump tapped a wealthy heiress who married into even more money and then became a major donor to conservative causes. And in a single round of questioning from senators on Tuesday, DeVos revealed herself to be a poor choice in all the ways you would expect a wildly underexperienced donor to be a poor choice.

Yglesias's colleague Libby Nelson pointed out that DeVos's inexperience materialized as an inability to understand the basics of her job:

... while DeVos’s voucher support fits comfortably in the Republican mainstream, it might not be all that relevant to her time in office should she be confirmed, unless Congress is inclined to pass Trump’s multibillion-dollar voucher plan. On the other hand, DeVos is guaranteed to be handling many issues she has less experience in. The Education Department hands out billions of dollars of grants and loans to college students. It gives grants to help educate students with disabilities and poor students. It investigates complaints that schools violated students’ civil rights, which under President Obama has included aggressive investigation of colleges accused of mishandling sexual assault. And when DeVos was asked about those issues, she often floundered.

Kate Zernicke of The New York Times zooms-in on the floundering:

She appeared blank on basic education terms. Asked how school performance should be assessed, she did not know the difference between growth, which measures how much students have learned over a given period, and proficiency, which measures how many students reach a targeted score. Ms. DeVos even became something of an internet punch line when she suggested that some school officials should be allowed to carry guns on the premises to defend against grizzly bears. But if she was sometimes rattled on the specifics, Ms. DeVos was unshakable in her belief that education authority should devolve away from the federal government and toward state and local authorities.

Guys, we HAVE to make #BetsyWithTheGrizzBear a thing.

If you want to read some unedited highlights, NPR's Cory Turner has a good rundown. Aaron Pallas at The Hechinger Report turns in a satirized version:

Betsy DeVos: In accordance with my conversations with the President-Elect, I can commit to you many things over which I will have no control. For example, if confirmed, I can promise that I will repeal the Common Core on my first day – which won’t be a weekend, I can assure you.

Finally, Jon Hale, writing in The Atlantic, reminds us that what folks now sneeringly call "privatization" was once the only schooling option for many Black children:

To numerous critics, DeVos’s appointment threatens the integrity of public education that still remains ... Privatization skeptics and advocates alike overlook the historical nuances of the prospective administration’s support of vouchers, charter schools, and other school-choice reforms that remove schools from public oversight. An analysis of American history indicates that the use of private means was a critical aspect to ensure quality education for African Americans legally excluded from access to public institutions. The volatile role that privatization played in race relations is noteworthy because it underpinned the establishment of schools for students of color while it also informed the creation of alternatives to desegregation and the Republican narrative on the failure of public schools ... Private means to create a public good were an integral part of black education. Yet, as the historians Joseph Crespino, Lisa McGirr, Kevin Kruse, and Charles Bolton documented, white families used privatization for different purposes after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.

If you still need more Betsy DeVos news, you'll have to look elsewhere!