Betsy DeVos should eschew federal education policy, suggests William McGurn in the WSJ. Instead, he explains, the new Secretary of Education should use what her critics fear most–the bully pulpit. “Because if Mrs. DeVos does nothing else in her time but lay bare the corruption of a system failing children who need a decent education most—and shame all those standing in the way of reforming it—she will go down as an education secretary of consequence.”
Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, also has advice for Mrs. DeVos: “The temptation for an education secretary is to make a few earnest speeches but never really challenge the forces responsible for failure. But the moms and dads whose children are stuck in schools where they aren’t learning need better choices now—and a secretary of education who speaks up for them and takes on the teachers unions and the politicians on their own turf.”
As an example, Mr. McGurn starts with NYC and Bill de Blasio, “a mayor who fancies himself the nation’s progressive-in-chief, along with a schools chancellor who has all the credentials Mrs. DeVos is accused of lacking, including experience teaching in public schools.”
Unfortunately, these credentials haven’t done much to help students. Only 36% of New York City district-school pupils from grades 3 to 8 passed math, and only 38% English. For black students the numbers drop to 20% proficient in math and 27% in English. As a general rule, the longer New York City kids stay in traditional public schools, the worse they do.
(Mrs. DeVos) will do well to remember that the nastiness of her confirmation was in fact a backhanded recognition by her foes that they have lost the moral argument.
“The opposition to change is not polite and always on the offense,” says Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York. “Betsy’s going to need to play offense or we will lose another generation of children.”