It is no secret that the DeVos family controls state education policy in Michigan. As Betsy DeVos has acknowledged, when they make campaign contributions, they expect to see the changes they want.
Since DeVos took control, education in Michigan has been in decline. The state has hundreds of charter schools. Accountability is minimal. DeVos likes it that way. Michigan is the only state where 80% of charters operate for profit. That means less money for instruction because investors come first in a for-profit business.
Last year, the New York Times Magazine ran a very good article about the charter mess in Michigan. It points out that 70% of the charters are in the bottom half of state performance. So much for “saving poor kids from failing schools,” more like privatizing schools for profit without regard to the kids.
“The results have been stark. The 2016 report by the Education Trust-Midwest noted:
Michigan’s K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. It’s a devastating fall. Indeed, new national assessment data suggest Michigan is witnessing systemic decline across the K-12 spectrum. White, black, brown, higher-income, low-income — it doesn’t matter who they are or where they live.
You will not be surprised to learn that Michigan is systematically underinvesting in its school. Choice is a replacement for adequate funding.
You will also not be surprised to learn that Michigan has a major teacher shortage.
New teachers don’t want to teach in Michigan.
This is why Betsy DeVos, when asked about her home state of Michigan, changes the subject to Florida.
- Diane Silvers Ravitch (born July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University‘s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.
- Ravitch writes for the New York Review Books.