Letter to the Editor: In Defense of Betsy Devos

Dear Editor,

There is a big assumption being carried out that Betsy Devos is part of a Doministic takeover of education. She, like most Republicans, is pushing for school vouchers. This is nothing new, it has been going on for decades.

In the urban areas people, rich and poor, send their kids to private schools, mostly run by different religious groups. President Obama sent his children to the same school Chelsea Clinton went to, run by Quakers. While the GOP is up front promoting vouchers. the Democrats rail against them and say how they support public schools, then they send their children to private schools.

But these private schools do more than take in political children, they effectively poach star athletes from public schools. A classic example is LeBron James, the best player in the NBA. The NBA took him out of Cleveland high schools, not public but St. Marys High School. Look at the national high school basketball rankings, the top teams are all religious schools.

The message is clear, the rich and powerful send their children to private schools. Public education is being pushed out, not by raving evangelists, but by even those who say they support public education.

Bruce Vojtecky

Avatar
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

29 Responses

  1. Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

    As are many of Trump’s appointees (self-admitted religious Dominionists), Devos is a raving God-in-government fanatic who has stated publicly that she wants to re-direct public school funding to “advance God’s kingdom”. Her proposals will primarily fund private Christian schools (with a lesser amount for public charter schools, which are increasingly being taken over by churches and religious organizations around the country). From the article linked below:

    “The couple (DeVos and her husband) goes on to describe school choice as leading to “greater kingdom gain” explaining how public education has “displaced” the church as the center of communities, and said providing parents with school choice is one way to undo that displacement”.

    http://tnholler.com/2019/04/betsy-devos-in-nashville-today-to-help-advance-gods-kingdom-with-lees-school-vouchers/

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    True. On the issue of public vs private schools, many well-to-do people are hypocritical.

    That’s not enough to make me defend Betty DeVos.

    If people want to send their progeny to religious schools where the kids are taught that evolution is a lie because according to the Bible our planet and universe are 6,000 years old—and why are there still monkeys in the jungle if monkeys evolve?—they can raise kids who are as unprepared for critical thinking as their parents. Knock yourselves out. Send your kids to private American Christian Taliban schools.

    But Hell no, I don’t want to pay for it.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Steve, unfortunately your blanket assessment that all religious schools are like the Taliban is not true. The main reason people send their children to religious schools is to put religion in their life, something not allowed in public schools. In rural areas religious schools give a balanced education, three of my nieces went to religious high school on Churn Creek. One, gasp, now teaches in Weaverville. In urban areas people send their children to private school, mostly run by Christian organizations, for the safety of their children as the public schools are crime ridden.
      You may rightly feel that you shouldn’t pay taxes to fund private schools. There is an equal number who home school and don’t want to fund public schools. And finally the old geezers who don’t want to fund any schools because they have no kids in school.
      School funding is a delicate issue.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I don’t think I said all religious schools are Christian fundamentalism indoctrination centers, but I take your point. One thing that I think they all have in common is that they include some degree of religious instruction. Most have curricula that are informed by religion as well—I know for a fact that most Protestant schools ignore or even refute evolution in biology classes.

        To me, funding those schools violates the 1st Amendment’s separation of church and state clause.

        The same is not true of home schoolers and oldsters who don’t want to pay taxes that fund schools. I don’t particularly love America’s prison-industrial complex. I think our military is hugely bloated as well. I don’t get to withhold paying a portion of my taxes over those objections.

        • Avatar Doug Cook says:

          Not all Charter schools are religious based. We are fortunate in Shasta County where we have decent public schools…that is not the case in many cities in the US. Inner city schools are mostly a mess and students that want to learn are at a disadvantage. You mean those kids shouldn’t have any choice in their education? They should be forced to go to their poor performing public school? Can we agree that education is important to lift oneself out of poverty?
          When I lived in Southern Ca, I worked with a foundation that mentored and worked with minority kids. I had the opportunity to go to these horrible public schools, it was nearly impossible for anyone to get an education. The goal is to educate children, and we should use every method available to give the kids the best chance for an education…including charter schools that no doubt have a better record than public schools. On average, students across the United States receive a better education in urban charter schools than they would in traditional public schools.

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        Bruce,

        Students in religious schools spend an inordinate amount of time studying bible verses and learning church doctrine. In addition, some parents may actually object to having their children taught that birth control, abortion, and sex outside of marriage will earn them a place in “Hell”, that females are inferior, or exposing them to the sexual abuse that is rampant in certain churches. Keep in mind that religious schools also have little to no public oversight.

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          Patricia, name one religious school in Redding or Shasta County that teaches women are inferior and premarital sex will send them to Hell.
          I have worked in public and charter schools as well have had relatives attend religious schools and nothing you say is true.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Those schools all teach the bible. Have you ever actually read it? If so you would know that it’s just LOADED with “god”-commanded brutality and violence directed against women, claims that women are inferior to men, and men blaming women for their own wrongdoing. As to the rest, it’s just standard fundamentalist doctrine. However, children can escape being relegated to the eternal tortures of “Hell” by your “loving” god if they beg his forgiveness and never “sin” again.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Patricia: my private school spent ~3-5 hours/week on religion – time that was in addition to, not instead of, regular classwork. As an atheist, I found the classes invaluable. Without them, I never would have been able to point out all the (Christian) imagery in high school literature staples like “The Grapes of Wrath.”

  3. Avatar Tim says:

    I will forever be grateful for my parents’ sacrifice in pulling me out of a poorly run public school and sending me to a private school. But my sister did not get the same opportunity – my parents could afford to send only one of us. Vouchers would have changed that.

    You don’t need to go to the big city to find horrible public schools – Redding has plenty. If you live on the east side of one stretch of Honeybee Rd, your child will go to one of the state’s worst elementary schools: Sycamore (rated 2/10). If you live on the other side of the road, your child will go to one of the state’s best: Grant (9/10).

  4. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    This defense of Devos unfortunately omits her long track record of attacking public schools in Michigan, which included pioneering efforts to fund private religious schools–Christian of course, Devon is a radical Calvinist–with taxpayer dollars. my former colleague Curt Guyette and many, many other journalists have documented this, google it. Yes, she’s a hardcore Domionist, just like her brother, Blackwater founder Erik Prince. She will go down in history as the worst Ed Sec of all time. There is no defense for this homophobic harpy.

  5. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I worked at Epworth Village in York, Nebraska. It is what some on here would call the perfect example of a religious school in the Bible belt. Their mission statement, look it up, is to bring God to all it’s students. Hanging on the wall in the main building is a quilt with a toddlers photo on it, a memorial to one of the nineteen children killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. They take children who have been thrown on the trash pile by their parents and society. The students are taught that God will always love them. The students are also taught science, evolution, biology, English, history and even have a ceramics glass where students make projects sold at craft shows in York. Epworth puts the lie to the Doministic takeover of schools. Epworth also has 100 year history, much before Devos has been around. While Epworth gets some funding from state and federal their main funding comes from people who believe in God.
    And in Redding I see my question of what schools teach that women are inferior and premarital sex ends in Hell have been deflected.
    And I want to thank Doni for printing an opposing view.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Bruce,

      No, your question was not “deflected”. However, since you apparently haven’t read the bible (or just refuse to acknowledge all the passages that label women inferior and/or deserving of henious punishments for things that are largely beyond their control) I happened to have the short list below. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it gives us an inkling of just how denegrated women are by this primitive text. Is this really what we want our children to be taught?

      Leviticus 27 – “God” places a dollar value on human life, with women being worth far less.

      Numbers 30:1-16 – A woman’s vow is meaningless unless approved by her father or husband.

      Genesis 38:24 – Women suspected of being promiscuous are to be burned at the stake.

      Deuteronomy 22 – A woman who is raped in the city limits and doesn’t (can’t?) call for help is to be killed.

      Deuteronomy 22:20-21 – If a man “hateth his wife” he may claim she was not a virgin when he married her. If she can’t prove otherwise she will be stoned to death.

      Deuteronomy 25 – If a woman accidently touches the genitals of a man who is not her husband, her hand will be cut off (she will be shown “no mercy”).

      Genesis 19 – Lot offers to send his daughters out to be raped by a mob to spare visiting male strangers (“god” approves).

      Leviticus 12:1-8 – Women are “unclean” after giving birth, and must be purified for twice as long after giving birth to a daughter (birthing a daughter is apparently dirtier than birthing a son).

      Numbers 31:17-18 – Moses commanded his men to kill every man, woman, child, and elderly person in tribes of unbelievers, but to save the virgins to be raped and turned into concubines.

      Exodus 21 – “God” sanctions selling one’s daughters into slavery (and even provides instructions).

      Deuteronomy 22:28-29 – A rapist must buy his victim from her father for 50 shekels, and she will be tied to him for life.

      Leviticus 19 – If a man has sex with a slave, he must “scourge” (severely beat/flog) her.

      Levitticus 15 – A woman who is menstruating must be avoided, even to the point of not looking at her or touching what she has touched.

      If you can find any justification for teaching children this primitive, women-hating garbage, don’t hesitate to chime in.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Patricia, according to your Bible hatred than every official, public or private, that takes office with there hand on a Bible is a woman hater and that would include many women officials. According to your Bible hatred every courtroom in the country, including ones presided over by women judges, that asks witnesses to swear to tell the truth with their hand on the Bible are liars and women haters.
        My question still remains defected.

        • Avatar Chris Solberg says:

          Rest assured Bruce, Several Shasta County women judges are notorious “man haters”

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Bruce,

          What a weak defense (it’s actually no defense at all).

          However I’m happy to say that the country is moving away from that blind nod to pointless tradition. Many legislators are now swearing in on law books and copies of the Constitution.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Patricia, how do I put up a defense against someone who quotes passages from a book that over half the world’s population believes is false.
            Also you failed, (intentionally?)to mention that some lawmakers are swearing in on copies of the Koran.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            The subject of your letter (Betsy Devos) doesn’t believe it’s false, and would admittedly like to see it crammed down the throats of every child in America. Also, none of the flaming Dominionists Trump has placed in charge of the highest levels of government think it’s false (and obviously neither do you).

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            Patricia, ahh now after all the flaming domestic rhetoric we get back to the subject of my letter. There is no defense of Devos as an Ed secretary but she, or Trump. are not responsible for the supposedly takeover of Education by religious groups. That has been going on for decades. And are you using your powers and those of your thousand member group to determine I believe in the bible?
            Actually I believe in reincarnation, use your investigative powers to figure out that religion. After my death I want to come back as a champion rodeo bull. When my rodeo career is over I will retired to a pasture with dozens of celestial virgin cows. Now that is heaven.

  6. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bruce. When I worked in public schools, there were concerns that private schools had an advantage in the all important test scores because private schools don’t have to enroll or keep any student. Public schools enroll English language learners whose scores count even if they can’t understand the questions. Private schools have more latitude in how they do business. Teachers don’t have be be credentialed. They can organize the time for school tasks with more freedon than is allowed public schools. It’s not a simple issue. Maybe the voucher system would work if all Jewish and Christian private schools were accredited so that all schools met the same standards. Just thinking aloud! Thanks Bruce.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      There is a move in some states, mostly Bible belt, that want to include elective Bible classes. I think this would be a good idea if all religions were discussed. The history of the world has been a result of religious influence, good and bad, and how are public school students to learn this history if it isn’t taught to them. Let the young people decide what or of they want religion in their life but give them the tools to learn that.
      Teaching religion in public schools as an elective would give those students who want to know more an alternative. But, the Liberals throw up there arms and say this would lead to Religion taking over public education. I compare this to the Liberals wanting common sense laws on guns but the Conservatives throw up there arms and say this would lead to taking away our guns. Neither is true but our elected officials won’t work together.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Because of the mandated courses in California public schools, there are hardly enough hours in the school day to cover those requirements. If religious courses could be an after-school elective like sports, that might be a possibility.

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        Comparative religion classes already exist in public school. However, fundamentalist Christians scream bloody murder because religions like Islam are mentioned (along with every other major world religion – including Christianity). People like DeVos don’t want classes that address religious influences on the history of the world – they want a sanitized, revisionist portrayal of Christianity as the only “true” religion.

  7. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    I have a problem with lumping everyone from a particular group together. It is certainly easier to blame particular problems on a group: democrate, repulican, fundamentalist Jews, Christians or Muslims for any problem, but it doesn’t solve the problem. One of the foundations of our country is the separation of church and state. History proves that the domination of one religion or another is not healthy for a country or its people. A study of world religions is important to anyone’s education. Private religious schools include religious study in their curriculum, but public school children should never be a captive audience to religious training that is not part of their culture. Should all schools have access to funds designated for public education? I might say that any school that can meet the standards of accreditation in their state should be considered.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Being a former teacher, Joanne, you are so aware that public schools depend on ADA for funding. My sister-in-law taught at a high school in Bakersfield. Almost daily, one parent would come to the Admin Office and harangue the principle about the books in the library and the curriculum. Even though every student is needed in the ADA count, the principal finally suggested that the parent remove her child from public school and enroll her in a religious school.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Redding can look to two great success stories with charter schools, RSA and UPrep. Unfortunately there are bad charter schools everywhere, including Redding. Every charter school has to be given permission from a public school district and many failures have happened because of lack of oversight from the district. I was employed with SUHSD from day one of both RSA and UPrep. When either had a board meeting the CFO of SUHSD would be present to watch finances.
      The claim that charter schools do not have to follow regulations that public schools follow is not entirely true. What happens is the District doesn’t follow up with those schools. In Cheyenne the first charter school in Wyoming was started a few years ago and is a success because the District and state required and followed the school’s progress.