DeVos’ ALEC Roots Revealed in Response to Senator Murray’s Question

 

While national news reports cite allegations of plagiarism by DeVos for an 18-word lift from an earlier Department of Education press release, a far more extensive copied-and-pasted segment has apparently been overlooked. Below is a direct quote provided on pages 21-22 of DeVos’ answers to Senator Patty Murray’s questions:

Senator Murray asks,

“If you claim to support accountability and transparency, why do the model voucher policies from the American Federation for Children that you chaired fail to require students in private schools receiving vouchers to take the same assessments and report the same data as those in public schools?”

DeVos answers:

“The model voucher policies include strong accountability provisions. I’ve included the language below for your review:

(C) Academic Accountability Standards. There must be sufficient information about the academic impact Parental Choice Scholarships have on participating students in order to allow parents and taxpayers to measure the achievements of the program, and therefore:

(1) participating schools shall:
(a) annually administer either the state achievement tests or nationally norm-referenced tests that measure learning gains in math and language arts, and provide for value-added assessment, to all participating students in grades that require testing under the state’s accountability testing laws for public schools;
(b) provide the parents of each student with a copy of the results of the tests on an annual basis, beginning with the first year of testing;
(c) provide the test results to the state or an organization chosen by the state on an annual basis, beginning with the first year of testing;
(d) report student information that would allow the state to aggregate data by grade level, gender, family income level, and race; and
(e) provide rates of high school graduation, college attendance and college graduation for participating students to the Department or an organization chosen by the state in a manner consistent with nationally recognized standards.”

The Senate’s review should note that her response appears to be a near-identical match to language from the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) Parental Choice Scholarship Program 

“(C) Academic Accountability Standards. There must be sufficient information about the academic impact Parental Choice Scholarships have on participating students in order to allow parents and taxpayers to measure the achievements of the program, and therefore:

(1) participating schools shall:
(a) annually administer either the state achievement tests or nationally recognized norm-referenced tests that measure learning gains in math and language arts to all participating students in grades that require testing under the state’s accountability testing laws for public schools;
(b) provide the parents of each student with a copy of the results of the tests on an annual basis, beginning with the first year of testing;
(c) provide the test results to the state or an organization chosen by the state
14 on an annual basis, beginning with the first year of testing;
(d) report student information that would allow the state to aggregate data by grade level, gender, family income level, and race; and
(e) provide graduation rates of participating students to the Department or an organization chosen by the state in a manner consistent with nationally recognized standards.” 

The few words indicating any substantive difference are in section “a” where Devos’ response to Murray includes tests that she thinks should provide for value-added assessment.

So, which of the two following situations is more likely?

Situation 1: DeVos lifted the ALEC language and failed to include a citation or link referring to the ALEC specific policy? Such an action would apparently indicate further evidence of plagiarism…

or…

Situation 2: Since Senator Murray’s question refers specifically to model voucher policies from DeVos’ American Federation for Children (see earlier post for AFC involvement in ALEC) then perhaps DeVos had actually authored the policy she wrote about in her response. If this were true, then she would have had a far greater role in shaping ALEC bills than had been indicated in her earlier paperwork. Unfortunately, such a scenario would reveal a glaring omission in her written disclosures of activities within, for, or with the ALEC organization. When prompted to list organizational memberships, her response appears to have been exhaustive, and goes so far as to include three yacht clubs, yet fails to make any mention of ALEC. How would she be held accountable for such an omission if indeed she has participated in ALEC activities?

Maybe the AFC to ALEC link is designed to serve a dual function; to be a bridge for instant funneling of DeVos designed plans into education policy while simultaneously acting as an organizational barrier to shield DeVos/DeVos from the stigma of having direct ties to ALEC.  Such shielding would be consistent with reports of Mr. and Mrs. DeVos’ activities from over ten years ago. As Tabachnik’s Talk to Action report reveals, Dick DeVos stated in a 2002 speech to the Heritage Foundation about the divisiveness of school privatization as a political issue and that in order to effectively move voucher and privatization bills through legislatures, it would be ineffective to frame the policies as solely conservative in ideology. In the cited speech, Mr. DeVos warned, “We need to be cautious about talking too much about these activities.” 

No, Mr. and Mrs. DeVos, you need not be “cautious about talking too much” about these activities. Please keep talking. And should the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in campaign contributions to Senators actually work to buy their votes and your seat as the new U.S. Secretary of Education, then congratulations on your purchase and may your ties with ALEC forever be in the forefront of American consciousness.

##

For readers interested to learn more about ALEC and how their actions drive policy, see the videos and links at the end of this earlier post as well as the following Step By Step Guide To Understanding ALEC’s Influence On Your State Laws. The image at the top of this post and the screenshot below are from the publicly available powerpoint created by Matt Sinovic, Executive Director of Progress Iowa:

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-5-13-12-pm

For examples of the kinds of education bills that have been promoted by the ALEC Education Task force (of which DeVos’ American Federation for Children is apparently a “Trustee” level sponsor), click image below or here. [Photo credit: School Money via Shutterstock Edited: LW / TO by PRWatch]

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-5-49-08-pm

 

For information exposing the role of ALEC legislation in the proliferation of the private prison industry, please see The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor as well as Ava DuVernay’s powerful documentary, 13th.
____________________________________

Note: Thanks and attribution for revealing the DeVos-ALEC document connection from Senator Murray’s responses should go to Annie Waldman, Education Reporter at ProPublica who originally posted about the shared text on January 30th:

_________________________________________________________

For more on the Betsy Devos Appointment:

Betsy’s DeVos’ Graduation Rate Mistake // NPR

NAACP Opposes Betsy DeVos Nomination for Secretary of Education

Coalition of 65 Education, Civic, and Civil Rights Organizations Oppose Betsy DeVos Nomination

Recuse Yourself: Betsy DeVos Nomination

Why Eli Broad Is Opposed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

5 Things to Know about Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump Education Choice // Center for Media and Democracy

Conflicts of DeVos: Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and a Pay to Play Nomination

Democratic Senators Press Trump’s Education Pick Betsy DeVos to Pay Years-Old $5.3 Million Fine

Betsy Devos and the Segregation of School Choice

A Sobering Look At What Betsy DeVos Did To Education in Michigan — And What She Might Do as Secretary of Education

Segregation Now and Forever: Betsy Devos and the Looting of Public Education


On ALEC Legislation / Philanthro-capitalism

ALEC Pay to Play on Display in Washington, DC

New Guardian Docs Show ALEC Misled Press, Public

Cashing in on Kids: 172 ALEC Education Bills Push Privatization in 2015

The United States of ALEC // Democracy Now

A Whistleblower for Grand Philanthropy

 

On Charter Schools / Privatization

Charter Schools & “Choice”: A Closer Look

The School Closure Playbook

Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Schools: Disenfranchised Communities

Virtual School Operator K12Inc Faces Challenges From Stockholders Demanding Transparency // Washington Post

Darcy Bedortha Blows Whistle on K12Inc Virtual Charter Schools

CyberCharters: Widespread Reports of Troubles // Education Week

Privatized Education Steals From the Poor, Gives to the Rich

How Hedge Funds Will Profit From School Privatization

Death By A Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage // Journey For Justice

NAACP Board Approves Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Charter School Expansion

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Note: The post above is authored by Roxana Marachi, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Education at San José State University. The views presented here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official positions of the CSU or SJSU.

2 thoughts on “DeVos’ ALEC Roots Revealed in Response to Senator Murray’s Question

  1. Thank you for this crucially important post. I hope you are sending it on to all Senators before tomorrow’s vote. The ALEC connection must be called out, and Senators who decide to vote for DeVos anyway must know that they are showing their true colors.

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