Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 20
By Alyson Klein
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy
DeVos has spent the past year trying to rise above the social media
maelstrom that surrounded her
rocky confirmation process. But the
past two weeks showed she is still a
prime target of vitriol from her opponents-and sometimes her own
worst enemy in the public arena.
DeVos has plowed ahead with her
agenda to better meet the needs of
individual students in part by expanding educational options through
vouchers and charter schools. She's
visited schools that she says are embracing outside-the-box approaches.
She's even poked fun at her own performance at her confirmation hearing.
But many educators continue to
find her message mystifying and
often offensive, even as it resonates
with some parents. It doesn't help
that her performance is not always
ready for prime time.
The most bruising recent moment for the secretary came during
a wide-ranging interview with "60
Minutes" March 11 in which she
seemed unable to answer basic questions about some of her policy positions. A department spokeswoman
said the segment was "highly edited" and did not accurately capture
The interview capped a week in
which the public's polarized take on
the secretary was on full display:
* DeVos got the cold shoulder from
some students during a visit to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,
in Parkland, Fla., the site of the
mass shooting last month that killed
17 students and staff members. Her
staff said she structured her visit to
minimize disruption for the school.
* On Twitter, the secretary tried to
illustrate that little has changed in
education over the past several decades using stock art, engendering
social media outrage.
* And in remarks that she called
"tough love," DeVos told state chiefs
she sees a lack of innovation and
ambition in their plans to implement
the Every Student Succeeds Act fell
flat with many state leaders, while
garnering praise from others.
Such instances show after more
than a year in office DeVos still
hasn't figured out how to frame her
message from her perch as a cabinet
secretary, instead of as an advocate,
said Pedro Noguera, a professor of
education at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is linked to
the progressive movement.
"She's clearly at a loss for what
her role is. She can't just be a critic
of others' policies," he said. "She has
to say what needs to be done. She's
now in a position to lead, and she
can't do that."
But DeVos does have an important
message-it's just not one everyone
wants to hear, said Matt Frendewey,
who helped lead communications
work for DeVos at both the Education Department and at the American Federation for Children, the
school choice advocacy organization
"She's challenging the belief that
we have a world-class education system," he said. "When families have to
talk about selling their home to get
a better school district, something is
wrong in our country. That conversation is uncomfortable for [many]
families and the education establishment that profits off of an education
system that's mediocre."
'60 Minutes' Slip-Up
The "60 Minutes" segment offered
DeVos a big platform for her contention that expanding educational
options would help parents pick a
school that best meets their child's
needs. And it may have been the
secretary's best shot so far to move
beyond the impression her controversial confirmation hearing left in
the public's mind.
A "60 Minutes" spokesman said,
"This interview speaks for itself."
During the interview, DeVos wasn't
able to point to examples in her home
state of Michigan in which injecting
more competition through charter
60 Minutes/CBS News
DeVos Still Challenged
In Delivering Message
schools or vouchers had increased
student achievement. (She said this
had happened in "pockets" of the
state, but didn't say which ones.)
And she told interviewer Lesley
Stahl she hadn't "intentionally" visited low-performing schools to determine the cause of their problems.
("Maybe I should," DeVos agreed
when Stahl pressed her.)
For DeVos' critics, the interview
confirmed that she's "incompetent
and doesn't care about schools," said
Mark Hlavacik, an assistant professor of communication studies at the
University of North Texas in Denton
and the author of Assigning Blame:
The Rhetoric of Education Reform.
On the other hand, if "you think
the media has been unfair to her,"
Stahl's pointed questions might have
supported that perception too, Hlavacik said.
Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for
DeVos, said that "60 Minutes" chose
to air only "highly edited clips" of the
interview. "It's disappointing that instead of showing any of the lengthy
and substantive policy discussion
Secretary DeVos had with Ms. Stahl,
'60 Minutes' chose to air only highly
edited clips on limited topics to perpetuate a false narrative about her
work," Hill said.
But Candy Banda, the director
of school leadership for the Dallas
Independent School District, said
DeVos' comments showed how removed the secretary is from what
actually goes on in classrooms.
Banda, who spoke about her personal views and not the district's,
was particularly put off by DeVos'
contention that the public funds stu-
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earned highly critical reviews for
how she performed in her high-profile interview on CBS' "60 Minutes."
dents, not school buildings.
Students and their schools, "inherently go together," she said. "Students fill school buildings, so they
need to be funded and resourced,"
said Banda, who has spent 20 years
in education and taught at the elementary, middle, and high school
Stoneman Douglas Reception
Some students at Stoneman Douglas weren't thrilled when DeVos
stopped by on March 7. They complained on social media that she met
with a very small group of students,
not the entire school community, and
didn't spend much time in Parkland.
"I thought she would at least
give us her 'thoughts and prayers,'
but she refused to even meet/speak
with students. I don't understand
the point of her being here," tweeted
Carly Novell, a Stoneman Douglas
But one student, Kyle Kashuv,
who later visited the White House,
praised DeVos as well as President
Donald Trump for how they reacted
to the shooting. Last week, DeVos
had dinner with Kashuv, who met in
Washington with lawmakers about
school safety on a day that coincided
with the national student walkout.
At Stoneman Douglas, DeVos did
indeed speak with several students,
according to the school newspaper
and the department.
The secretary also told the student
journalists who covered her visit
Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
By Benjamin Herold
The chief privacy officer in the U.S. Education
Department was reassigned and replaced on an
interim basis as part of a broader reorganization
that could have big implications for how the federal government supports schools and districts in
protecting student privacy.
Kathleen Styles, a lawyer licensed to practice in
Texas and the District of Columbia, has filled the
department's chief privacy officer role since it was
created in 2011. Effective April 1, she will be replaced by the department's current deputy chief
privacy officer, Angela Arrington, a computer scientist and long-time veteran of the department.
The office of the chief privacy officer is responsible for functions including administering two of
the country's major federal student-privacy laws,
developing the Education Department's privacyrelated policies and guidance, and providing technical assistance to help education entities navigate student-privacy issues.
Under Styles, the office has expanded the scope
of the department's Privacy Technical Assistance
Center, issuing guidance and best-practices documents on a wide range of privacy-related issues,
including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA.
During a public appearance last week at the
annual conference of the Consortium for School
said the agency's work will continue unimpeded
20 | EDUCATION WEEK | March 21, 2018 | www.edweek.org
as the current shakeup unfolds. Parents who
believe their rights have been violated under
FERPA can continue to file complaints with the
department's privacy compliance office, and the
department's Privacy Technical Assistance Center has not stopped accepting requests for help
from schools and vendors.
Beyond the personnel shuffle, a larger reorganization is apparently underway.
In a statement, Elizabeth Hill, an Education
Department spokeswoman, said the Family Policy Compliance Office, which is currently part of
the office of the chief privacy officer, "will enforce
FERPA compliance and provide technical assistance as required by statute."
Some privacy advocates, however, have expressed concern about the potential implications
of such a shift.
that she'd like to sit down with them
and others in the near future, her
DeVos used her annual speech to
the Council of Chief State School Officers to offer some "tough love" on state
ESSA plans. States haven't taken
advantage of the law's leeway, come
up with innovative ideas to improve
schools, and leave too many low-performing students behind, she said.
Her message didn't sit well with
many chiefs. They argued that
DeVos asked for the bare minimum,
then complained when she got it.
"Maybe [DeVos] forgot this bit
when penning her lecture, but the
letters she sent states specifically
asked us to stick to the consolidated
plan template and only include information 'absolutely necessary' for
[department] consideration," tweeted
Tony Evers, Wisconsin's state superintendent of public instruction. Evers
is running to replace Republican Gov.
Scott Walker, a DeVos ally who did
not sign off on his state's plan.
But at least one chief welcomed
"I appreciate the push," said Nevada Superintendent Steve Canavero, whose state was singled out
for praise in the speech. "She's challenging us to rethink our flexibilities."
Some educators were also taken
aback on March 6, when DeVos
tweeted a picture of two classrooms-one seemingly recent, one
that appeared decades old-both
showing similar set-ups in traditional classrooms.
"Everything about our lives has
moved beyond the industrial era.
But American education largely
hasn't," she tweeted.
Teachers angrily fired back pictures of their own classrooms where
students worked in groups, held
book clubs, put together projects.
That's what real classrooms look like
today, they told DeVos. The secretary,
they noted, had used stock art.
"Here's how my public school classroom looks," wrote Anna Baldwin, a
teacher in Arlee, Mont., who recently
served as a teaching ambassador at
the department. "Kids collaborating, round tables and rolling chairs,
laptops for individual study. Do your
Assistant Editor Andrew Ujifusa and
Staff Writers Daarel Burnette and
Madeline Will contributed to this report.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 21, 2018
Education Week - March 21, 2018
A Teachable Moment For 2nd Amendment
Student Walkout Taps Well of Anger, Sadness
Sick of Low Pay, More Teachers Prepare to Fight
News in Brief
N.D. Districts Can Substitute ACT For State Test
Study: Don’t Use ACT, SAT to Gauge School Achievement
Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Schools
Educators and Finance Officers Team Up for Better Budgeting
Schools Struggle to Use Data To Get Better
Upcoming March Could Draw On Walkout’s Momentum
Walkout Takes Aim at Gun Violence
FACT SHEET: Students With Emotional Disabilities
Response to Shooting Begins to Take Shape
lorida Extends Private-School Vouchers to Bullied Students
Surprise W.Va. Teachers Strike Emboldens Activists Elsewhere
DeVos Still Challenged In Delivering Message
Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
MARY BETH TINKER: I Stand With the Students
FRANK LOMONTE: Student Privacy Laws Should Protect Students, Not School Officials
KIRSTEN BAESLER: Yes, Betsy DeVos, Our Schools Are Innovating
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
LAWRENCE BAINES & JIM MACHELL: The War on Teachers Comes to Oklahoma
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Sick of Low Pay, More Teachers Prepare to Fight
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 2
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Contents
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - News in Brief
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Report Roundup
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - N.D. Districts Can Substitute ACT For State Test
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Study: Don’t Use ACT, SAT to Gauge School Achievement
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Spreading Social-Emotional Learning Across All Schools
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 9
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Schools Struggle to Use Data To Get Better
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 11
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Upcoming March Could Draw On Walkout’s Momentum
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Walkout Takes Aim at Gun Violence
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - FACT SHEET: Students With Emotional Disabilities
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 15
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 16
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 17
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - lorida Extends Private-School Vouchers to Bullied Students
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Surprise W.Va. Teachers Strike Emboldens Activists Elsewhere
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 21
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - FRANK LOMONTE: Student Privacy Laws Should Protect Students, Not School Officials
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - KIRSTEN BAESLER: Yes, Betsy DeVos, Our Schools Are Innovating
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 25
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - 27
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - LAWRENCE BAINES & JIM MACHELL: The War on Teachers Comes to Oklahoma
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - March 21, 2018 - CW4