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DeVos touts DC Charter; Closed Due to Failing Test Scores

DeVos shows she is out of touch by touting failing school and pontificating about stressed teachers, AFT responds saying teachers are stressed because of her failed policies

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 23, 2018

Just 9 months after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Trump’s wife Melania visited a DC Charter School, the D.C. Public Charter School Board has announced that the school will be closing due to failing test scores and falling student performance.

Excel Academy, the District’s only all-girls public charter school, was visited in April by DeVos and Trump. At the time, DeVos called the school exceptional saying Excel was “an exceptional example of a school preparing young women both academically and personally." In truth, the school was struggling. In the School Board’s report on the school, they cited below-average reading and math scores as well as scores that were declining year over year. Additionally, attendance and re-enrollment rates were consistently below DC’s average. "The trend for student performance over the past several years has been negative, despite any benefits that may have occurred from learning in an all-girl setting,” said board chair Darren Woodruff.

Excel is closing just as DeVos is launching a campaign against the “Bush-Obama” school reforms. These reforms, which DeVos advocated for while at the American Federation of Children, have led to a shift from comprehension to test taking, said DeVos in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute. Of course, DeVos and her school “reform” friends pushed high stakes testing as a way to privatize public schools and break teachers unions across the country.

She also cited a study by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) which showed that teachers are more stressed on the job. The AFT responded, citing the study they released in October of 2017, found that 2/3 of teachers are stressed out which is twice the national average. The study also found that stress levels have increased since the last study in 2015. AFT President Randi Weingarten attributes this to Trump and DeVos. "Since President Trump took office, stress and anxiety are on the rise, and we now have a secretary of education whom educators in our survey overwhelmingly feel does not respect them. State and federal cuts to education spending will only make things worse," Weingarten says.

The study also found that educators said they have at least a moderate level of control over basic decisions in their classroom, but they report having far less influence over policy decisions, such as establishing curriculum (nearly 40 percent), professional development content (nearly 50 percent) and budget decisions (nearly 80 percent). Many of those curriculum decisions were taken away from teachers and school districts as school choice and “reform” advocates like DeVos pushed for high stakes testing and Common Core. DeVos has also proposed cutting school funding by $9 Billion.

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