Victor Skinner, EagNews.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos highlighted President Obama’s failure to improve education during his eight years in office, including $7 billion in “improvement” grants that made no meaningful improvement, at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday.
DeVos took direct aim at the liberal ideology that money equals results in education, saying at CPAC 2017 she was the “first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face, there’s no such things as a free lunch,” National Public Radio reports.
She expanded on her point by criticizing $7 billion in school improvement grands doled out by the Obama administration during his tenure that did nothing to improve student learning, according to a government analysis.
Obama thought “money alone would solve the problem,” DeVos said. “They tested their model and failed miserably.”
The Washington Post confirmed the failure last month:
Test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment were no different in the schools that received money through the School Improvement Grants program – the largest federal investment ever targeted to failing schools – than in schools that did not.
The Education Department published the findings on the website of its research division on (Jan. 18), hours before President Obama’s political appointees walked out the door.
“Today we know the system is failing too many kids,” DeVos said, according to Reason.com. “Our nation’s test scores have flatlined.”
DeVos, a lifelong school choice advocate, spoke about Obama’s other education failures, as well, including an attempt to force the nation’s school to adopt his views on transgender students and police how schools manage their access to bathrooms and locker rooms.
“This issues was a very huge example of Obama administration overreach, one-size-fits-all approach to issues best solved at a personal and local level,” she said of Obama’s transgender decree to schools last year.
DeVos also acknowledged that her advocacy work promoting a variety of school choice options for parents has earned her scorn from “defenders of the status quo,” mostly teachers unions that loathe competition in the public education system, NPR reports.
“The media has had its fun with me,” she said, but “my job isn’t to win popularity contests” or favor with media or the “Washington education establishment.”
DeVos commended “good teachers” but also admonished administrators and college professors “telling you what to think.”
She made it clear the censorship of conservative voices on college campuses, such as the recent violent riots at the University of California Berkeley over an appearance by conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, is an important issue for the new Education Department.
“They say if you voted for Donald Trump, you are a threat to the community,” DeVos said. “But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree with.”