Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Kryptonite For Teachers' Unions

Trump and DeVos

The most contentious confirmation of Trump’s cabinet nominees was for the relatively innocuous Secretary of Education. Why? National Review columnist Kevin Williamson suggests it’s because the Democrat Party power is the lowest since the Civil War; because teachers’ unions are its biggest source of funds; and because nominee Betsy DeVos supports voucher programs to reform American education. Democrats are famously “pro-choice” when it comes to mothers aborting their children, but definitely anti-choice when it comes to where their children go to school. Unless those mothers happen to be rich, their children must go to the local public school no matter how bad it may be. They have no choice, and teachers’ unions want to keep it that way.
If DeVos is successful, she will stimulate widespread school-choice programs at the state and/or national levels which are kryptonite for the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Union monopoly would be as broken as Humpty Dumpty. The Democrat Party would see both its funding and its stranglehold on academia decline precipitously.
When Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) challenged Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader, he said: “[Democrats are] at the point now where we are not even a national party… We have some support on the coast, but we lost the support of Middle America.” Democrats are also losing the support of many middle and lower-middle class urban blacks who vigorously support school choice programs, and constitute a vitally important Democrat voting block. The party is so anemic after eight years of Obama, it could very well pass away. That’s why DeVos is such a threat.
“There’s nothing new in education,” said Ellen May, dean of the graduate school of education I attended in the seventies and that contrasted strongly with what I was constantly hearing as a young teacher elsewhere. In seminars, in-service training sessions, and in the classes I had to attend in both undergrad and graduate school, all I heard were people saying how excited they were to be starting a new program for teaching this or that.
Throughout my thirty-six year career, “new” things would come and go so often it was impossible to keep count. You’d hear from “excited” teachers at the beginning, but you’d never from the disappointed ones when the “new” programs’ rosy prognostications didn’t materialize. Instead, teachers would get “so excited” about the next “new” thing, but the only new things I saw during my nearly four decades in education were words — jargon, newspeak, nomenclature. Academics were constantly changing terminology. Teachers weren’t teachers anymore. They were “educators.” There were no more classrooms, just “learning environments.” There were no more tests, only “assessments,” and so on. But did anything really change? Only the bureaucracy: it grew and grew.
Schools had always been local. Teachers were accountable to the children they taught, to their parents, and to local school boards. Then, state governments intervened concerning things like how long the school day and school year should be, what subjects must be taught at what levels, etc. Then the federal government got involved, and has been increasing its control ever since President Carter established the US Department of Education. And who controls that? Teachers’ unions do, especially the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. They also control most state government education departments as well as state colleges and universities where teachers must attend indoctrination sessions, I mean classes, in the “new” educational methods in order to receive state certification — a symbiotic relationship if there ever was one. Very few of the classes I was forced to sit through as a graduate and undergraduate actually helped me to teach. I had to unlearn most of it to be a good teacher.
Democrat critics say DeVos has no educational experience. She has worked for decades, however, so more children could have the educational opportunities she had coming from a wealthy family. She knows good schools from bad ones, and good teachers from bad ones. But, then, we all do. We’ve all had good teachers and bad and most of us have gone to good and bad schools as well. “Educators” insist they alone can make those distinctions but voters are wising up and trusting their own instincts.
Collins and Murkowski

Not a single Democrat senator is expected to support DeVos. Two Republicans have declared against her as well: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s own Susan Collins. Both get thousands from teachers’ unions. The Senate voted 50 to 50 this week, with Vice President Pence  breaking the tie. Betsy DeVos is now Secretary DeVos, and real educational reform can commence but the controversy isn’t over. Teachers’ unions and Democrats will escalate their attacks as she gets going. They have to. They know that if they don’t stop DeVos, they’ll die.

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27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another rich lobbyist with no experience appointed by Trump. 4 years will pass with little actual change and she will fade into the sunset.

2/8/17, 3:31 PM  
OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

Can't wait for the imminent letters to the editor akin to
(para)"...Having home schooled his seven children, Mr. XXXXX has NO "experience" with education, nor parent/teacher conference concerns..".
I wonder how much clout K-12,+4 "education" labor unions would hold with the itersectionality(sic) of legislative interests, and fungible incomes/amenities of organized labor office, if rent-seeking (an economics term) "dues", as well as (apparently remedial)continuing education "units" to re-learn how to teach, were not mandatory?
Of course, I have no advanced degree, or credentials in "education administration", but I DARE say my observations of those in the Education Industrial Complex from
the (ie)Letters to the Editor, Student, Town Meetin' tax payer side, vs. the Social, off the record, casual conversation, cocktail party side,(public, private, rural, metro, ElHi,college)prompts me to garner that
lowered standards does NOT merit more tax dollars to "fix" the system, including Treasury administered "Higher Ed"student loans for borderline(remedial)CV thresh hold, participation credentials.
CaptDMO

2/8/17, 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Tom, didn't you just claim that nearly all of Trumps Executive Orders reversed Obama's executive orders?

So how are we supposed to believe anything you say?

Devos? Yawn.

2/8/17, 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what will happen? Every move she'll make will be put into question by some cracked pot quack libtard judge.

2/8/17, 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, they sure will be put into question by those cracked pot defenders of the Constitution!

2/8/17, 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like a good time to repost what was said last time you mentioned liking this unexperienced billionaire lobbyist :

You like what DeVos has done for education in Michigan?

You like that in Brightmoor, the only high school left is Detroit Community Schools, a charter boasting more than a decade of abysmal test scores and, until recently, a superintendent who earned $130,000 a year despite a dearth of educational experience or credentials.

On the west side, another charter school, Hope Academy, has been serving the community around Grand River and Livernois for 20 years. Its test scores have been among the lowest in the state throughout those two decades; in 2013 the school ranked in the first percentile, the absolute bottom for academic performance. Two years later, its charter was renewed.


Or if you live downtown, you could try Woodward Academy, a charter that has limped along near the bottom of school achievement since 1998, while its operator has been allowed to expand into other communities.

For students enrolled in schools of choice — that is, schools in nearby districts who have opened their doors to children who live outside district boundaries — it’s not much better. Kids who depend on Detroit’s problematic public transit are too far away from the state’s top-performing school districts — and most of those districts don’t participate in the schools of choice program, anyway.

This deeply dysfunctional educational landscape — where failure is rewarded with opportunities for expansion and “choice” means the opposite for tens of thousands of children — is no accident. It was created by an ideological lobby that has zealously championed free-market education reform for decades, with little regard for the outcome.


President-elect Donald Trump has made a number of controversial cabinet nominations already. But none seems more inappropriate, or more contrary to reason, than his choice of DeVos to lead the Department of Education.

DeVos isn’t an educator, or an education leader. She’s not an expert in pedagogy or curriculum or school governance. In fact, she has no relevant credentials or experience for a job setting standards and guiding dollars for the nation’s public schools.

She is, in essence, a lobbyist — someone who has used her extraordinary wealth to influence the conversation about education reform, and to bend that conversation to her ideological convictions despite the dearth of evidence supporting them.

For 20 years, the lobby her family bankrolls has propped up the billion-dollar charter school industry and insulated it from commonsense oversight, even as charter schools repeatedly failed to deliver on their promises to parents and children.

See more at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/12/08/a-sobering-look-at-what-betsy-devos-did-to-education-in-michigan-and-what-she-might-do-as-secretary-of-education/?utm_term=.45b9c27772fc

2/8/17, 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Devos won't be able to do much damage at all. This is just Trump throwing a bone to a fellow out-of-touch with the people billionaire.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2017/02/07/devos-secretary-education-michigan/97587196/

2/8/17, 8:18 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Funny stuff, Tom. The most hysterically funny bit of wishful thinking I've seen in awhile. After the hilarious last sentence of your column I thought I actually heard Dr. Evile making his cackling sinister laugh...."you will die".

And are you truly ignorant as to how little the federal government actually has to do with our public schools? A very minor portion of schools budgets may come from federal grants and whatnot, but what's the big deal? Schools can do what they want and ignore that funding if they want. Are you going to insist that somehow the federal government was responsible for the Common Core? I would say that schools do have a bit of a problem with the amount of standardized tests, but that is something that my union, the NEA, has been trying to get congress to change. We know who has controlled congress for many years.

Parents and citizens have a right to fight for their local schools to be run the way they want them run. They, ultimately are still in charge. Join the school board. Quit whining and making excuses about the big bad feds.

2/9/17, 11:41 AM  
Blogger gaffer said...

That is what we need to fix the education nightmare in this nation. Someone who is not in lockstep with the unions. As grand parents we pay one half of the cost to send our three grandchildren to private schools because they were bored to death in public school. The public schools only teach to the slowest and poorest student while the rest suffer in silence. There is no need to pass on so many kids who cannot read, write or even do simple math, yet it is done every year.
Tom knows what public schools were and the hassles he had trying to teach the right way. Listen to him and watch as DeVos dismantles the grip the NEA has on state and local education ideas. Vouchers will allow kids to be challenged and think for themselves instead of being liberal robots.

2/9/17, 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, gaffer, I guess if your kids were bored at one school then all your points about the entire nation's schools must be spot on.

What would it matter if my children were challenged in their public schools and graduated with high honors? That would just be their experience, right?

The following is from USA Today:

Now that she’s officially on the job, what should families expect?

The question is not so easy to answer.

Most of the day-to-day power — over curriculum, instruction, safety, teacher preparation and even much-maligned standardized tests — lies with states and local school districts. In fact, the legacy of the Obama administration may have been to shift even more power to states and school districts and away from the federal government.

Joy Pullmann, managing editor of The Federalist, a right-leaning blog, has actually suggested that the worst thing DeVos and her boss could do is hand billions in federal voucher funds to private schools.

“If DeVos and Trump love school choice and the children it benefits, they will keep the federal government far, far away from them,” she wrote. The administration, she said, could potentially “destroy school choice in the name of expanding it” if some future administration sees handing over federal dollars as a way to make private schools agree to more federal regulations and testing requirements.

2/9/17, 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What ever little power she does have to change will hardly even matter because she'll be gone in 4 years, not enough time to brainwash people into believing "alternative facts".

Reality will always win in the long run.

2/9/17, 4:29 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

"Reality will always win in the long run."

I always thought that was true, but reaction of leftist Democrats to results of the last election has caused me to doubt. That the country rejected them and their world view is something they refuse to wrap their minds around. They still think it was a fluke, that if they just stage enough tantrums, everything will go back to the way they like.

2/9/17, 4:35 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

There you go again, speculating about what progressives are thinking. Your mind is 180 degrees from theirs, so stop guessing. You think that their reaction to the election has anything to do with rejecting reality? Absolutely the opposite, they are responding to the reality of sleeping through an election and having this disastrous, pampered man child take office. Their anger with themselves for doing so is manifesting itself into the continuos protests around the country.

Of course it was a fluke that he won, you know that. When the only way to win is by going against the most disliked candidate in Democratic history, and you get crunched in the popular vote, but squeak it out by just thousands of votes in a few states with the electoral votes, then that is a fluke. Vice versa, it would have been a fluke if Hillary had won. What wouldn't have been a fluke, and which flies in the face of your "country rejecting their world views", was if the dopey democrats put forward Bernie as a candidate, and he rolled over Trump in a landslide. So if you are saying that the country rejected the Democrats world view ,yes, I very much agree. But they most certainly did not reject true progressive beliefs, like those held by Bernie. But again, in the long run this is good, because the progressives have reawaken after being lulled into comfort by the Obama years.

And I would like to point out another example of extreme hypocrisy in your statement "if they just stage enough tantrums, everything will go back to the way they like."

Why didn't I see you whining about the Tea Parties "tantrums"?

2/9/17, 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NOW you complain about "tantrums"

Obama’s election in 2008 was followed by violent attacks and property destruction targeted against minorities.

An African American campaign worker for Obama was physically assaulted for wearing an Obama T-shirt in Louisiana following the 2008 election. The three white male attackers shouted “Fuck Obama!” and “Nigger president!” as they broke Johnson’s nose and fractured his eye-socket, requiring surgery.

Obama’s presidency was also marked by effigies of our first black president hanging from nooses across the country, for example in Kentucky, Washington State, and Maine, or being burned around the world. What Trump supporters fail to remember is that following Obama’s election, property was destroyed across the country, for example in Pennsylvania, Texas, and North Carolina, and a predominately black church was torched in Massachusetts.

THAT was ok. But my god, what these anti-Trump people are doing....

2/9/17, 7:18 PM  
Blogger P. C. Poppycock said...

Here's a fine example of what passes for educational focus in our government schools of today: http://www.brunswick.k12.me.us/school-board/files/2014/09/Brunswick-Believes-Strategic-Framework-2016-2021.pdf

It's Brunswick's attempt to put forth a 'strategic framework' for its schools, and is rife with silliness, PC terminology, educational psycho-babble, self-adulation, etc. Everything but basic education.

Exactly what you'd expect when you hire a facilitator/strategic 'consultant' to guide you in the process. You get the sum of all yellow-sticky mumbo-jumbo in an official document.

2/10/17, 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the document and don't quite see your point. It seems to be along the same line as others, including charter schools:

http://odysseycharterschooldel.com/pdfs/board_of_directors/Financial_reports/OCS_Strategic_Plan_13-15.pdf

2/10/17, 9:45 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

You can’t fairly say the country rejected the Democratic agenda when the Democratic agenda received almost 3 million more votes than the Republican agenda. As it’s already been pointed out, many Republicans didn’t accept the outcome of the 2008 election. It’s possible some of that was attributable to Obama’s race, but it was also because many were convinced he was born in another country and therefore Constitutionally ineligible to hold the office. Here is your January 2011 blog post where you were genuinely unsure what might happen if it was proven he wasn’t born in the States. http://tommclaughlin.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html Can you think back to what you mindset was at that time? If it was proven he was born in Kenya, would you have supported his removal from office? Keep in mind you didn’t know at that time that you were going to vote for the Canadian-born Ted Cruz in 2016.
 
Regarding the inability to accept the outcome of the election, Trump is pushing his unproven claim that millions of illegals voted. I find it far too coincidental to accept that the number of illegals who voted just happens to be the difference between his popular vote and Clinton’s popular vote. I find it impossible to believe that he somehow knows who all of those illegals voted for. Now he’s contemplating launching a tax-payer funded investigation into this matter. If you think about it, in addition to a lot of Democrats, the candidate who actually won the election can’t accept the results either.

2/10/17, 4:09 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Somebody is trying to post a cut and paste article on charter schools. One anonymous and one with initials have tried several times to post the same article. Whenever they tried, it showed up in my email. For some reason, it didn't appear here on the blog.

I did not prevent it. I did not remove it. I don't understand what happened.

2/10/17, 5:51 PM  
Blogger P. C. Poppycock said...

I had the same thing happen. I got the same emails perhaps a dozen times or so. I hope this is not a normal symptom of the comment feature on your blog.

2/10/17, 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Secret Service Adds Emotional Protection Division To Safeguard Trump’s Psyche"

This new division will be charged with defending the 45th president’s psychological well-being around the clock, investigating foreign and domestic threats to his self-esteem and quickly intercepting any spoken or written criticisms before they can harm his pride.

http://www.theonion.com/article/secret-service-adds-emotional-protection-division--55263

2/10/17, 7:22 PM  
Blogger P. C. Poppycock said...


Interesting articles related to the subject of the post:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/an-odd-way-to-discredit-devos/article/2006530

http://www.weeklystandard.com/where-school-choice-is-a-way-of-life/article/2006526

2/12/17, 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did Devos get this position? One simple reason - she bought it. With Trump everything is for sale. She and her family have given she and her family have given more than $3 million in the 2016 election cycle to Republicans in the U.S. Senate. That includes more than $950,000 to 21 senators who voted on her confirmation. Five members of the senate committee that oversaw her confirmation hearing are among the recipients. That's the Free Market at work!

2/13/17, 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She knows good schools from bad ones, and good teachers from bad ones. "

When your students wrote research papers didn't you ask them for some evidence to support their statements?

2/13/17, 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://usuncut.com/news/trump-just-revealed-official-inauguration-poster-glaring-typo/

Holy cow, what a fricken clown show we got going on. Far and away the biggest laughing stock of a president. How embarrassing! You couldn't create a fictional president more bumbling, inept, and unpresidential. The world looks at us and laughs.

2/13/17, 6:50 PM  
Blogger P. C. Poppycock said...

Is the BDN missing a frequent poster?

2/13/17, 7:38 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I don't understand, PC.

2/14/17, 7:32 AM  
Blogger P. C. Poppycock said...

A too subtle (apparently) response to certain comments and posters on your site.

Have you checked your PM inbox on other web sites lately?

2/14/17, 10:18 AM  

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