Civil Fine of Their Own

I recently decided to pay less attention to politics and even lesser attention (grammar?) to the politics around education. I teach at a charter school and charter schools make strange bedfellows; liberal teachers with a social justice tilt often funded by right wing organizations that may or may not love our schools because of their ability to disrupt the teachers’ unions. That said, I care just enough to write one quick post about the topic.

In reporting on eduction, Malcolm Gladwell once said something to the effect of, “every low income high school student needs his own Jewish lawyer.” Gladwell was exploring a program in California that provided scholarships to high achieving students in poor performing schools. Apparently that is DeVos’s plan to fix our nations’ schools. From the Times:

Tuition at the school, just outside Orlando, is normally $6,260 per year, according to the school’s website. The Florida scholarship program allows businesses in the state to receive tax credits for donating to nonprofit scholarship organizations that give tuition assistance for students to attend schools like St. Andrew. The families’ portion of the tuition bill varies.

I don’t know the details of the Florida program – and do not care enough to do the research – but this is a scary model for addressing the nation’s public education system. Good for the businesses in Florida that are helping out students, but this is no way to address the actual needs of our public schools. What about the kids that don’t qualify for scholarships?

Prior to her nomination as education secretary I had never heard the name “DeVos”- at least not in a way that made me remember it. A week later her family popped up in the first 100 pages of Jane Mayer’s Dark Money:

[Richard Devos] and his co-founder, Jay Van Andel, were forced to pay a $20 million fine. The fine didn’t make much of a dent in DeVos’s fortune, which Forbes estimated at $5.7 billion. By 2009, DeVos’s son Dick and daughter-in-law Betsy were major donors on the Koch list and facing a record $5.2 million civil fine of their own for violating Ohio’s campaign-finance laws.

How the hell do you get a $5.2 million fine for violating campaign-finance laws?

FN1 – I find the chants common in charter schools occasionally cute and somewhat disturbing (think The Wall). This one falls 100% on the side of disturbing:
“What are our goals? Where are we going?” Ms. Peters-Gipson asked.
“College and heaven,” they said in unison.
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