A DeVos By Any Other Name: Clinton’s Neoliberal Education Policy

The levels of hypocrisy in the first days of Trump’s presidency have transcended beyond imaginable heights. While there are vast differences between the Republican’s current agenda and the liberal legacy left by Obama, we are starting to see that some partisan policies are shared no matter which oligarch regime is in charge. On one side you have the right defending Trump by pointing out that his executive orders are not much different then policies that were also implemented by the Obama administration. This is a bit hypocritical because for eight years they claimed that Obama was the worst president ever and was bad for America. On the other hand, the left or liberal reaction to the Trump’s first weeks of presidency have been of complete resistance and rejection without many stopping to think that they had been silent when Obama did the same.

Recently, the US Senate confirmed Secretary of Education nominee, Betty DeVos who was probably one of the most contested of Trump’s cabinet picks. The opposition to Betty DeVos was not limited to Democrats. Many on the right were also fighting to have her nomination blocked as well, especially those who live in rural areas. Republican voters in rural areas opposed DeVos not just because of her lack of public education experience but also because of her charter school advocacy. Rural areas are not very attractive to charter school start-ups because of they often have a low student population and it would be hard for the school to find enough students for enrollment.

Also, logistically speaking, parents in rural areas rely heavily on school transportation because of the travel and distance from home, school, and work. These areas prefer to have an Education Secretary who is mainly focused on public education and that only. Not to mention that data is not proving to be favorable when it comes to the overall success of charter schools. There have been numerous articles written about the damage charter schools have done to states like Michigan. There are also studies that prove charter schools offer no better or even worse results than that of public schools.

However, with all that is being said about DeVos and her plans to advance the charter schools, little attention has been paid to the fact that we could have likely seen the same agenda pushed by a Hillary Clinton presidency. For starters, the charter school boom was prominent under President Bill Clinton. Former President Clinton publicly praised charter schools and vowed to see 2000 more charter schools opened before he stepped down as president. Because of his efforts, he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

So it should be no surprise, that Hillary is also an advocate for charter schools and their access to public education funds. On her 2016 campaign trail, Hillary was met with a room full of boos from representatives from the National Education Association when she spoke about public and charter schools sharing ideas. While giving this pep talk, Clinton had already gained the endorsement of another major teacher’s union, AFT (American Federation of Teachers). They gave Hillary an early endorsement in 2015 before the first democratic primary debate was ever scheduled.  It was no surprise since Randi Weingarten was a huge Clinton supporter. The AFT themselves openly embrace the idea of charter schools as well.

What also cannot be ignored is the infamous John Podesta and Neera Tanden’s “progressive” think tank CAP, Center for American Process is a donor and sponsor of the fast growing consultant firm called EdBuild. EdBuild is ran by charter school advocate, Rebecca Sibilia. Sibilia is a protégé and former vice president of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, a charter school reform organization. Rhee, however, is best known for being the former Chancellor of the Washington D.C. public school system where during her time the district’s schools suffered.  She was also at one time being entertained as a choice for Trump’s Education Secretary.

So while many people are openly protesting Betty DeVos, which they rightfully should, their efforts will never fully be achieved until they realize that the same type of educational reform and policies that DeVos is interested in pushing are most likely identical to what Hillary Clinton would have nominated.  In this case, the apple that will sit on the desk of the DeVos fell from the same tree from which the Democrats would have picked from as well. Will the hypocrisy ever cease? Or will all eventually learn that both sides are guilty of bad politics?