One size does not fit all in public education

Like so many people my age I’m tired of seeing everyone on the street glued to their cell phones.  But the amazing thing about this trend of staring into glass rectangles is that if you could see what individuals were looking at odds are no two would be viewing the same thing.

We all have different interests and are motivated by different experiences.  This is the exactly the point U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been making on a “Rethinking Schools” tour she has been on for the last seven days in six states.  In Wyoming, at the beginning of her visits, she highlighted this concept, as explained by the Washington Post’s David Von Drehle:

“Most students are starting a new school year this is all too familiar.  Desks lined up in rows.  Their teacher standing in front of the room, framed by a blackboard.  They dive into a curriculum written for the ‘average’ student.  They follow the same schedule, the same routine – just waiting to be saved by the bell.  It’s a mundane malaise that dampens dreams, dims horizons and denies futures.”

In a beautifully written piece, Mr. Von Drehle describes Secretary DeVos’s time at Kansas City Academy, a six through twelfth grade private school with 76 students.  This is not exactly the type of institution where you would expect to find Ms. DeVos.  As the Post writer observes, the school’s “heavy emphasis on the arts, the environment and social justice makes it an attractive option for progressive families.  School lunches are farm-to-table.”

Protesters joined Ms. DeVos for her visit.  Supporters of the school were aghast that she stopped by.  A student who recently graduated from City Academy said she was “scared of someone coming into the school who disagrees with just about everything they believe.”  This same former pupil went on to indicate that bathrooms at the academy are “trans-friendly.”

Now I will allow Mr. Von Drehle to tell the rest of the story:

“But as she pinched out a clay pot in the ceramics room and whipped up a veggie burger in the culinary room, DeVos was a living reminder that people who disagree about some things don’t have to disagree on everything.  DeVos agrees passionately with one of the founding concepts of Kansas City Academy and the other schools around the country that practice ‘Expeditionary Learning.’   That is:  Not all students learn in the same way or thrive in the same settings.  This realization has sparked innovation in schools over the past generation.  But it does pose obvious challenges to traditional public schools that group students by geographical boundaries rather than individual needs. . .

DeVos finished her 90-minute visit by answering questions from students in government class, where she made a warm impression on students who had found her mean and forbidding on YouTube.  [Tiger] Baker [a senior at Kansas City Academy] said that ‘she was personally nice, respectful – kind of a mom thing.  I loved being able to talk to her personally.’  When asked by the secretary why she chose his school to visit, DeVos replied that she admired the school’s approach to nurturing individuality.”

If we are to finally close the academic achievement gap and bring children living in poverty up to the same scholarly level as affluent families we are going to have to drastically change the way we having been teaching our kids in the past.  This is the point of Ms. DeVos’ trip to Kansas City Academy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinity Lutheran Supreme Court ruling is not the final verdict on allowing private school vouchers

Last April I called your attention to Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc,. vs. Sara Parker Pauley, in her official capacity which had been argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Here’s what I wrote:

“The case revolves around the church’s desire to participate in a Missouri state program that recycles used tires for material that provides rubber surfaces for playgrounds. The local Department of Natural Resources refused Trinity’s request for a $20,000 grant to be spent on the resurfacing of its playground because of the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment, which reads ‘No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.’”

In a seven to two ruling, the court found yesterday that because the Trinity Lutheran Church was trying to obtain a public service that non-sectarian organizations were also getting it could not be discriminated against because of its religious affiliation.  As the CATO Institute’s Neal McClusky points out “This should have been a simple decision: It is clearly unequal treatment of religious Americans under the law to say “the reason you are ineligible for this benefit for which anyone else is eligible is that you are religious.”

The opinion of the majority stated that “the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand.”  But, as the Center for Education Reform points out, the finding was narrow in scope and did not directly address the Blaine Amendments that are found in the constitutions of 37 states.  This will have to come on another day.  For now, we will simply have to continue to fight for parents to have the freedom to send their children to the school of their choice.

School voucher supports should keep their eyes on Trinity Lutheran Supreme Court case

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc,. vs. Sara Parker Pauley, in her official capacity.  The case revolves around the church’s desire to participate in a Missouri state program that recycles used tires for material that provides rubber surfaces for playgrounds.  The local Department of Natural Resources refused Trinity’s request for a $20,000 grant to be spent on the resurfacing of its playground because of the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment, which reads “No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion.”

The Washington Post’s George Will points out that 37 states have a form of the Blaine Amendment in their constitutions, and Congress required its adoption for new states wanting to join our nation.  The columnist explains that Blaine Amendments are named after James Blaine who was a “Republican Speaker of the House and 1884 presidential nominee.”  Mr. Blaine was upset with the proliferation of Catholic schools in this country, and therefore wanted to make sure that public funds were not going to support their expansion.  These amendments are of particular interest to school choice supporters since voucher plans throughout this country have been judged unconstitutional because the programs include secular schools.  The scholarships are therefore seen as taxpayer money going to help religious institutions.

Trinity Church sued, according to Mr. Will, saying “the state is abridging its First Amendment right to the ‘free exercise’ of religion and denying the 14th Amendment guarantee of ‘equal protection of the laws.'”

The whole argument against allowing the church access to this money is absurd.  As Michael McConnell, a church vs. state subject matter expert law professor from Stanford University has written about this case, “A scraped knee is a scraped knee whether it happens at a Montessori day care or a Lutheran day care.”  The bottom line is that the Missouri program is in place to protect the safety of its children.

An extremely similar line of reasoning applies to the use of private school vouchers.  They are being provided to parents so that they can make the best decision as to where they can sent their kids to learn.  This has nothing to do with favoring one religion over another, or promoting a particular system of worship as establishing an American church.

Mr. Will goes on to reveal that the U.S. Supreme Court has adopted a three-part test for allowing public dollars to pass to religions institutions.  “A statute pertaining to contact between government and religion does not constitute establishment of religion if the statute has ‘a secular legislative purpose’ (again: knees), it neither advances nor inhibits religion, and it does not involve ‘excessive government entanglement with religion.'”

As can easily be deducted from the above language the Missouri program passes these requirements as does any private school voucher plan.

A decision will come this summer.

 

 

 

 

D.C. Mayor right on school choice; U.S. Education Secretary is not

Last night, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gave her third annual State of the District address and there was plenty in there for advocates of school choice to cheer.  In a strong direct refutation of a letter sent to Congress by 13 D.C. Council members, including David Grosso, the chairman of its education committee, that called for a phasing out of the Opportunity Scholarship Program that allows children living in poverty to attend private schools, the Mayor had this to say early in her remarks:

“We call on the President and Congress to uphold our 3-sector school funding approach that enhances PUBLIC EDUCATION funding in DC.” [Capitalization is in the original text.]

Of course, the 3-sector funds include equal dollars annually for the OSP, charters, and traditional schools.

Later on in her speech she returned to the subject of the District’s schools and commented on the charter sector:

“This year, I am also proud to further increase the public charter school facility allotment by 2.2 percent this year, and lock that increase in for the next four years. Adding millions more to the school facilities all across the District. As well as make available more public buildings for public charter school use.”

The raise in the per peril facility allotment does not reach the $3,250 floor that charter leaders had wanted, but at $3,193 it comes close.  Now Ms. Bowser just needs to add an automatic increase for inflation.  We are also going to hold her accountable for her promise to make additional surplus DCPS buildings available to those institutions that now educate 46 percent of all public school pupils in the nation’s capital.

While the D.C. Mayor hit the nail on the head regarding school choice, last Wednesday U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos missed it.  She was speaking at the Brookings Institution on the release of its 2016 Education Choice and Competition Index compiled by Senior Fellow Russ Whitehurst.  Denver, Colorado is the city at the top of the study’s rankings for having the greatest amount of school choice.  However, as the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss reports, Ms. DeVos did not agree.  From the Education Secretary’s prepared statement as provided by the Post:

“I am hopeful this report helps light a fire under [low-scoring cities] to better serve students. And while we may be tempted to emulate cities with a higher grade, I would urge a careful look.

The two-highest scoring districts, Denver and New Orleans, both receive A’s, but they arrive there in very different ways.

New Orleans provides a large number of choices to parents: All of its public schools are charters, and there is a good supply of affordable private schools. The state also provides vouchers to low-income students to attend private schools if they choose. Combined with its easy-to-use common application, New Orleans’ sophisticated matching system maximizes parental preference and school assignment.

Meanwhile, Denver scored well because of the single application process for both charter and traditional public schools, as well as a website that allows parents to make side-by-side comparisons of schools. But the simple process masks the limited choices.”

As I’ve written about many times before, I had the great opportunity to spend some time in Denver last summer as part of the Amplify School Choice conference sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.  There I learned first hand about the strong growth of charters in this city, and the way that the traditional public schools are held to the same accountability standards that charters face.  Here is what I wrote last August:

“Since 2005, according to Mr. Dan Schaller, director of advocacy for the Colorado League of Charter Schools, ‘DPS has closed or replaced 48 schools and opened more than 70, the majority of them charters.’  Low performing charters have also been shuttered.  For example, during the 2010 to 2011 school year 25 percent of schools up for renewal were closed.  Today there are 55 charter schools in Denver out of a total of 223, teaching 18.3 percent of all public school students.

The results of these initiatives have been nothing short of amazing.  The Denver Public School system is now the fastest growing urban district in America.  The high school graduation rate has jumped to 65 percent in four years.  From 2004 to 2014, the proportion of students at or above grade level in reading, math, and writing has climbed from 33 percent to 48 percent.”

Also, as I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, there is a District-Charter Collaboration Compact in this city that has many features that should be emulated here in D.C. and other places across the country.  I strongly recommend that Secretary DeVos make a visit to Denver and see the miracles taking place there such as the outstanding education being provided to low income children by schools such as DSST PCS.

Washington Post editors have long history of supporting school choice

Over the weekend the editors of the Washington Post came out once again in favor of re-authorization of the SOAR Act that provides private school vouchers for low-income children in the nation’s capital.  The editorial board has supported school choice plans across the country for decades.  Here’s the background.

In 1999, I decided that I was going to get a school voucher plan approved for Washington, D.C.  The reason for my decision back then originated with my and my wife’s love for this city.  We met here as college students, settled in D.C. when we were first married, and then moved to Reston, Virginia to raise our family.  We knew that Washington would not be a great town unless it had great schools.

But the education system was a complete mess.  Little teaching was actually going on in the classrooms.  The facilities were literally crumbling.  Drugs, weapons, and gang activity was prevalent in the hallways.  As a political libertarian, I understood that only the competition for students would solve the seemingly intractable problems in the schools.  But I also recognized that no one would listen to me.  I needed someone with local credibility to get behind this policy solution.  I settled on the Washington Post’s Colbert King as the person to advance my proposal.  The reason that I selected Mr. King was that I observed from his weekly column that he too was passionate about the success of his hometown, and he  wrote from the perspective that people living in Washington, D.C. should solve their own problems.

It took me months of persuasion but there I was one morning sitting in the editorial boardroom of the Washington Post with Mr. King.  I had brought along with me Darcy Olson, now the CEO of the Goldwater Institute, but at the time the director of family and education policy at the CATO Institute.  We talked about school vouchers for an hour.

At the end of our discussion, during which I found Mr. King to be extremely kind and attentive, the Washington Post columnist explained that he could not get behind the concept.  He stated that he was worried about what would happen to the quality of the education for those who were left behind when others received private school scholarships.  Extremely disappointed, but invigorated by the chance to sit with Mr. King, I left the meeting.

But then something magical happened.  Unsigned editorial after editorial began appearing in the Post arguing in favor of proposals for school choice in various localities.  This was a drastic reversal of the newspaper’s previous viewpoint.  The change was recognized by Clint Bolick in his book Voucher Wars (CATO Institute, 2003).  In writing about the introduction of the nation’s first private school voucher plan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mr. Bolick  states:

“Ultimately, the Post concluded that because it wouldn’t help many children and was of doubtful constitutional validity, ‘choice is not the answer to the gross inequities that prevail among America’s schools.’  But the editorial conferred a strong and unexpected establishment imprimatur on our effort.  And only a few years later, the Post abandoned its reticence and become one of the nation’s most consistent and influential backers of school choice experiments” (p. 58).

To my amazement I would learn later that Mr. King was writing these pieces.

The Post columnist does not pen these opinions anymore; this job has now been passed on to someone else.  But the tradition strongly continues.  From Saturday’s piece:

“The organization that administers the federal school voucher program in the District has received 1,825 applications this year. The largest share, 25.6 percent or 468 applications, comes from Ward 8, east of the Anacostia River. The smallest, 0.8 percent or 15 families, is from Ward 3 in Northwest. It makes sense that demand is greatest where public schools are worst and families can’t afford private school or are unable to move to where the public schools are better. What doesn’t make sense is the desire — particularly among some D.C. elected officials — to try to kill off this program, thus denying low-income parents a choice that is taken for granted by those who are more affluent.”

Washington Post needs to end coverage of school choice under President Trump

In the old days newspaper reporters used to at least try and be objective in their coverage.  Even if the editorial pages favored one ideological side or the other such as The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Times, The New York Times, and the The Washington Post, the stories attempted to be impartial.  But today the political leanings of the press has spread seemingly by osmosis into articles which are purported to be stating facts.

Since I am a strong advocate of school choice allow me to bring up one example around this issue.  As the Washington Post has been covering efforts in Congress to reauthorize the SOAR Act, almost every story has contained a paragraph identical to the one in this piece by Jenna Portnoy

“A Washington Post review found that most students enrolled in the voucher program attend Catholic schools but hundreds use their voucher dollars to attend schools that are in unconventional settings, such as a family-run K-12 school operating out of a storefront and a Nation of Islam school based in a converted Deanwood residence.”

At least in this instance a quote was included by Michael Musante, the government relations director for FOCUS, indicating that this school has exited the program.  But impossible to locate would be a mention of the high caliber institutions that accept students receiving Opportunity Scholarship Program scholarships such as Archbishop Carroll High School, Georgetown Day School, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Gonzaga College High School, Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital, National Cathedral School, National Presbyterian School, Sidwell Friends School, and St. Albans School.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting a small Catholic school located on Capitol Hill.  St. Peters enrolls Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade students and was awarded the National Blue Ribbon in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Education.  To qualify as a Blue Ribbon School, standardized test scores in reading and in math must be among the top 15 percent nationally.  St. Peters accepts about 10 OSP scholars a year.

Moreover, it appears that the Post’s Emma Brown has been on a mission to discredit any move by President Trump or U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos when it comes to education.  Here’s a portion of one of her news stories today that talks about the President’s budgetary proposal to end funding of the 21st Century Community Centers:

“The proposal is one cut among many in a budget that would slash federal education spending by $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, in 2018. Trump aims to eliminate billions for teacher training and scale back or end several programs that help low-income students prepare and pay for college.”

But not once, at anytime, will readers be told that there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that permits Congress to allocate one dime toward public education.

Here’s more from the same article:

“Trump’s push for choice is also likely to face political headwinds: Democrats almost uniformly oppose vouchers. So do some Republicans. And the president’s proposal to allow $1 billion in federal funds to follow poor children to the public schools of their choice — while thin on details — sounds a lot like a proposal that failed to pass the GOP-led Senate in 2015.”

In the District of Columbia, over 41,000 children, 46 percent of all kids attending public schools, are exercising their privilege to utilize school choice by attending a charter school.  There are an estimated 22,000 more on wait lists to get in.  Ms. Brown may be philosophically opposed to a marketplace in education, or she may want to return to a simpler time when everyone just went to their neighborhood school.  However, school choice is here to stay.  Fortunately for America’s children, especially those that live in poverty, the rest of the country may finally get to experience what D.C. has enjoyed for over two decades.

Spike in applications to open new D.C. charter schools

Yesterday, the D.C. Public Charter School Board announced that it has accepted applications for eight new schools to open in the 2018-to-2019 term.  It has been many years since the board has received this many requests at one time.  For example,  during the last cycle one request was received.  As stated by the board’s press release, the applications include “two elementary schools, two middle schools, a high school, two adult schools and a hybrid high school and adult school.”  One interesting note is that the paperwork proposing the creation of the Adult Career Technical Education PCS lists former D.C. School Board Chairman Robert Bobb as a board member.

The PCSB is holding a public hearing for these applications on April 24th and will vote on them May 22nd.  The board’s Parent and Alumni Leadership Council is hosting a Town Hall to review them on April 11th at 6 p.m.

If the board follows the same pattern it has exhibited for the last two decades, approximately 40 percent of the new applicants will be granted charters.  This equates to three schools.  There are currently 90,454 individuals attending public school in the District of Columbia.  41,502 of these students, or 46 percent, are enrolled in charters, and 48,952, or 54 percent, go to DCPS.  The difference in enrollment between the two sectors is only 7,450 pupils.  The average size of a charter school is 400 kids.  Therefore, the approval of three new facilities will narrow this gap by 1,200 students.

But there are many other seats in the pipeline as the PCSB has been busy approving requests by existing schools to raise enrollment ceilings.  The day is fast approaching when an equal number of children sit in classrooms belonging to a charter compared to those that are in the DCPS system.  In addition, there is another significant change occurring regarding the education landscape in the nation’s capital.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program is about to grow significantly.  Serving Our Children, the new group administering this plan, has its sights set on racing to 3,000 participants, up from the approximately 1,100 scholars that currently receive vouchers.  Just last Friday, the U.S. House of Representative Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved re-authorization of the OSP for another five years, something the Senate and President will also certainly approve.  Eventually, the goal is to make this law permanent.

Charter schools in this city are erasing the achievement gap between rich and poor students; something many thought was an impossible feat.  Now that the OSP will be free from political interference and uncertainty we are on the road to bringing the same benefit to those receiving private school scholarships. 

Then we will finally be able to fulfill the final civil right of the most vulnerable members of our community:  providing a quality education to each and every child that needs one.  I hope that as a society we will have the foresight to record the names of all of the heroes that fought with every bit of their beings to help these young people, children that they may never even have had the chance to meet.

At long last, a U.S. President talks about school choice before a joint session of Congress

It took almost 250 years, but finally a President of the United States spoke passionately about the power of school choice before a joint session of Congress.  Here is what Mr. Trump said:

“In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind — and the souls — of every American child.

Education is the civil rights issue of our time.

I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program.

Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.

We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.”

Those of us advocating for a marketplace in public education desperately want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty.  This is why since 1998 I have been fighting for private school vouchers in the nation’s capital.  It is the reason that my wife Michele and I for the last 11 years have been volunteering on Saturday mornings to tutor low income Hispanic scholars through the Latino Student Fund.  And it is how I met Joseph E. Robert, Jr. in my desire to do whatever I could to have his back in his battle to create, maintain, and expand the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

We all believe in public schools and would prefer that everyone could have access to a good one close to where they live.  But terribly unfortunately, any monopoly gets diverted from a sole focus on its primary mission which is serving its customers day-in and day-out.  That is why school choice is so crucial.  It creates a competition for students that drives educational excellence.

Let’s all commit to doing everything we can right here is Washington D.C. to provide all children, especially those living in poverty, a quality seat.  We can expand the number of well-regarded charter schools operating in our city.  We can shutter schools of all kinds that are simply not working.  Finally, we can increase substantially the number of pupils helped by the Opportunity Scholarship Program.

The Center for Education Reform CEO Jeanne Allen on Betsy DeVos

There is much that can be written about yesterday’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, but the individual who said it best is Jeanne Allen, the CEO of the Center For Education Reform.  Here are her comments a day before the final Senate vote with a few of mine to follow:

“The ongoing protests over Betsy DeVos demonstrate a decades-old controversy among education leaders – is it better to have someone who has been inside traditional public education, or someone has watched and participated from the outside?  Because CER has always sought to ensure the adoption of innovation and policy changes that deliberately upset the status quo, we believe Betsy DeVos will make a fine Education Secretary. She brings a new and valuable perspective that would benefit American families and children. We also understand the concerns that have been raised, but do not believe those should disqualify her from the important role of leading a national commitment to making all schools work for all children.

The real issue at hand is not about the Secretary of Education at all, but the clear and present crisis in education and the lack of opportunities that exist for so many families who struggle against the inertia of a stagnant and 20th century system. While the world is filled with 21st century technologies, most schools still deliver lessons as if they were using the McGuffey Reader.

American education is struggling. Recent NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores show that considerably fewer than half (40%) of America’s fourth graders are proficient in math. Even fewer (36%) are proficient in reading. In fact, less than half of students at all grade levels are proficient in any of the nine curriculum areas studied.

We have a steep hill to climb, and it’s important that we put politics behind us and take the right road to get to the top.”

Here in the District of Columbia, after 20 years of tough thoroughly dedicated school reform, just around twenty five percent of our children are college and career ready.

As controversial as this candidate has been, it is time for doing something else.  Ms. DeVos has been fighting for greater educational opportunities for low-income students for more than two decades.  Now she can bring this struggle to the national stage.

The Democrats opposition to Betsy DeVos says more about them than it does about her

The headline of this article comes from the words of Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, spoken yesterday from the Senate floor as quoted by the Washington Post’s Emma Brown.  He is absolutely correct.  The fierce opposition toward Ms. DeVos is from those that want to preserve a status in public education that, as she stated during her confirmation hearing, is one in which one size fits all when it comes to teaching our kids.  Unfortunate for those on the fringe of the political left, including the teachers’ unions, school choice has already broken through the clouds and is shining its bright light on communities throughout this nation.

Ms. Brown describes a Capitol Hill event in which families were represented who send their children to charter schools and who take advantage of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the federally funded private school voucher plan here in the District for those living in poverty.  She mentions that it was one of 21,000 events across the United States currently taking place as part of School Choice Week.  The reporter writes that “Malik Washington, a senior at Archbishop Carroll High School in the District, said that the voucher program had been a gift for him and his sister, who were raised by a single mother working a minimum-wage job.”  From Ms. Brown’s piece:

“For our families to have the same opportunities that wealthier families have when it comes to school is beautiful,’ Washington said.”

In fact, it is the same experience that President Obama’s children have had since Sidwell Friends, where his kids go to school, also participates in the OSP.  So does Georgetown Day School, Gonzaga College High School, The Jewish Primary Day School, The National Cathedral School, The National Presbyterian SchoolSt. Albans School, St. Johns College High School, St. Peters School, and The Field School, among many others.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama went along with the unions and throughout his eight years tried to end the scholarships.  We now have a chance to greatly expand the number of scholars who can take advantage of these great educational institutions.

Do I wish that Ms. DeVos had done a better job at her confirmation hearing?  Of course I do.  But here is the bottom line.  During her career she has done more through our schools to help those that are less fortunate than 99 percent of our population.  In the face of education reform at the federal level that has been going on since the 1950s without much to show for it except billions of dollars being wasted, it is time for something new.

Former Mayor Anthony Williams supports her and that is good enough for me.  The Senate should confirm Betsy DeVos.