What are the real effects so far, in schools, of the various changes effected by Betsy DeVos and the current GOP administration?

Don’t wait to read this blog to find the answer out from me. I’m nine years out of the classroom, and to have anything useful to say on this, you need to hear from people who deal with this every day!

My younger colleagues at my last school are now retiring or moved into other professions! I would love to hear what teachers, parents, counsellors, students, administrators, etc have to say.

One of my former students (now a teacher in Maryland) shared a link today to a WaPo article concerning actions of the DeVos education department, rescinding 72 guidance documents regarding rights for disabled students.

My comments were something like this (edited):
Hi, X—- Thanks for sharing this. At first I thought it was brand-new news that I had somehow missed when I read or skimmed the Washington Post print edition this morning, pretty thoroughly. [Being retired, I can do that, with coffee and home-made banana bread from scratch! Current teachers have no time to do that at all!]
But then I looked again and saw this is a rather old article (October 2017). I recall that I was quite bothered by the issue back at the time, figuring that DeVos was doing something dreadful. Like many folks, I hated DeVos and everything she stood for. Along with thousands of others, I marched, held signs, chanted, banged drums and even spoke briefly at late-night vigils and demonstrations outside the Capitol against her.
And I still think she’s bad news for many of the same reasons other folks do! However, now re-reading the article and its follow-up, I am wondering, mostly because I don’t have facts. In the followup Post article, the DoEd spokespeople claimed that the changes were just cleaning up wording of the laws and regulations, getting rid of parts that had already been superseded and would make no practical difference at all to anybody.
Perhaps those spokespeople are really correct and it’s just a matter of making the text simpler without changing anything in practice, and her opponents are merely playing politics and making mountains out of anthills to get their supporters riled up, just like the anchors and yellers at Faux News [sic] do.
On the other hand, it is also possible that the DeVos (or her evil henchpersons) were in fact carefully crafting in loopholes so that nefarious deeds could be done to remove federal or state or local support for kids who really need it, and somehow put extra taxpayer dollars into the pockets of evil capitalistic swindlers. 
I don’t know.
It could be either one, or neither.
It does sound awfully suspicious that they only asked for expert or advocate comments AFTER the rules had been deleted. Shouldn’t the officials  do that beforehand? Of course they should. But, apparently they didn’t — or else, somebody’s lying about them not being notified.
I have no idea which of the various possibilities I’m raising here is/are true. For me to know, I would need to hear from those experts who deal with hearings and procedures and student care on this stuff. Best of all would need to hear from people who have different irons in the fire – since we all have biases, including those who are really connected to the rights of disabled students. Often there are tradeoffs or different and legitimate points of view. 
It’s too bad that many of the people spouting off on things like this really don’t know what the details really are, and are just repeating talking points. I’m often as guilty of that as many people are, (and I feel like I have many more failings than the average person) but I think I have one aspect that might cancel out part of one of my failings is that I tend to make a bit more of an the effort than the average person to go find out if something is true or false, using actual data. Debunking or confirming things is much easier than it used to be, unless someone goes to a lot of trouble to make up an elaborate hoax. (Conspiracy theorists are sometimes right, and sometimes not. People have a very hard time at discerning whether another person is lying or not. 
When I look into stuff, I am often really surprised by what I find. Sometimes my hunches (hypotheses) are confirmed, and sometimes they are contradicted by the facts on the ground; in which case I have to make sense of those results.
 I fear that too many folks do group-think because they really fear negative feedback from friends, family, fellow-students, co-workers, colleagues or neighbors if they disagree.

Does anybody with experience with the DoEd want to pitch in and comment on the various DeVos changes?

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Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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