Heather Hastie on the declining state of American education

I call your attention to Heather Hastie’s new post, “Has the US education system been set-up to fail?” It paints a dire picture of what’s happening in U.S. schools, discusses Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos (probably a creationist) as his education secretary, and explains why DeVos’s and Trump’s emphasis on “school choice” as a solution to the problem is wrong. The post is thoughtful, full of data, and well worth reading.

By the way, Trump apparently offered DeVos’s post first to Jerry Falwell, Jr., the out-and-out creationist president of the Christian school Liberty University. Falwell, however, turned down the offer as he couldn’t afford the 4-year commitment to a cabinet post in light of his university duties. Despite that, HuffPo (I’m still obsessed) still has this headline on its front page (click to go to the article):


As you see, when you click on the HuffPo headline, it goes to an Associated Press report that says this:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says President elect-Donald Trump offered him the job of education secretary, but that he turned it down for personal reasons.

Falwell tells The Associated Press that Trump offered him the job last week during a meeting in New York. He says Trump wanted a four- to six-year commitment, but that he couldn’t leave Liberty for more than two years.

. . . Trump announced Wednesday he had selected charter school advocate Betsy DeVos for the job. Falwell says he thinks DeVos is an “excellent choice.”

It would behoove HuffPo to have an accurate headline; this one is duplicitous and is another attempt to go after Trump. Granted, Falwell would have been an abysmal choice—I despair of having a Secretary of Education who doesn’t accept evolution— and DeVos may well share that view, but the headline is misleading.

But no matter what happens, make no mistake: science education, and perhaps science funding, is likely to take a serious hit under a Trump administration.



  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Not withstanding how bad the choices are and the anti-evolution, the charter school/private farmed out system is a complete disaster for education in America. Just take a look at Alabama if you want to know where it’s going.

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Yes, we here in Minnesota started the whole thing. The verdict? Not better than traditional public schools. If fact charter schools struggle to say even with public schools, despite their lowered requirements.

      The whole thing is just another right-wing lie.

  2. Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    If you look at the correlation between state IQ,(though we can debate the accuracy of IQ tests)and politics, it’s almost entirely the case that the lower the average IQ the more red the state. I doubt that republican politicians are intentionally keeping people stupid, but there is little incentive to do otherwise.

    • Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      The Flynn effect is no match for the DeVos decline.

      • nicky
        Posted November 27, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink


  3. Jenny Haniver
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I find it interesting to learn that De Vos’s brother is Erik Prince, who founded Blackwater. As for her Christian wellsprings,she’s a Calvinist. Here’s a compendium of her background, with links, on Patheos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/11/23/secretary-of-education-pick-betsy-devos-may-be-a-disaster-for-churchstate-separation/ — Calvinist. Her entire family is deep into the religious right. It notes that her husband pushed intelligent design, and is “heir to the Amway fortune” (or should it be heir to the Scamway fortune?).

  4. Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    They want to introduce a privatized version of Christian madrassas into an already compromised educational system. Scientific illiteracy is de rigueur. Pathological obedience to manufactured patriotism in the age of unreason.

  5. bric
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    So the U S has given up the struggle to be a First-World country?

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Another electoral college win, with the loser winning the popular vote by what, just under 2 million? And the winner is this grotesque… thing from the 19th century?
    Why there isn’t general unrest and rioting is either a testament of the goodness of the American people or the shell-shockness of the American people, or a bit of both.

    • ploubere
      Posted November 27, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      It is shellshock. I sometimes wake in the middle of the night and think of what has happened and am overcome with depression.

      But how to act is unclear. Those of us who oppose Trump are caught in a bind, because any attempt to delegitimize the results plays into the opposition’s plan to tear down the current system. All we are left with is trench warfare on individual issues for the next four, or more, years.

    • Posted November 27, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Under the current system, the “popular vote” has little meaning (there was a discussion in a previous thread on this). And there seems to be no commitment to a major electoral reform either in the political elite or among the voters. Those who are rioting now are not under the banner of federal one-step presidential election, they just fear Trump (understandably).

    • nicky
      Posted November 27, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      “Why there isn’t general unrest and rioting …….a bit of both.”
      Even more bewildering because on the face of it, this election was rigged, say stolen.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted November 27, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        That is a story that we should be watching. Not sure if it is real as yet.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        The best possible solution, if it can be had, is a Constitutional amendment. The 2 Senators per state is completely misrepresentation and that lead to the electoral problem as well. I’m not sure that we need 435 Senators (same number as Representatives) but it must be changed to better reflect the numbers. Start with Wyoming, the least populated and go from there. Maybe any state with a million or less gets one Senator. Then 4 million you get two. The point is, it needs to be fixed for more reasons than just election time. A state like California is really getting screwed.

  7. largeswope
    Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I really take exception to Ms. Hastie’s third reason for decline in education. I invite her and all of you to please spend some time in a public school. Volunteer, tutor, donate supplies come and see us. I am a Middle School Librarian at a Title I school. Our student population over 70% Hispanic. I work with some of the most dedicated inviduals you will ever meet. I have been a Union Rep and sat through the due process to remove poor teachers. It exists, it works if the Administration does its part. Over the last 18 years my husband and I have probably sunk in over $15,000 of our own money to the library and school. That does not include volunteer hours. Science in our building is in good hands. We are a bunch of atheists. Our school is greatly impacted by this election. Our students are terrified. Mexico sends its best and brightes, its future. If theses children get deported we lose and Mexico will gain.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      I was talking about lack of commitment by/from government, not teachers/students/community. I’m sorry this wasn’t clear.

  8. Posted November 28, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    It’s gone to Betsy DeVos, who sent her kids to Xian private schools, never herself attended a public school at any level, has no experience in teaching of school administration, and runs an organization whose mission is the privatization of schooling the USA.

    Yeah, there’s your choice to promote public education in the US — not.

    • Posted November 28, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      You know the playbook, set things up to fail so people can later claim dysfunction.

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