Posted by: maboulette | April 12, 2017

What’s going on In the Department of Education?


Trump and Betsy DeVos

Leading up to billionaire Republican mega donor and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, many media outlets published deep-dive investigations into DeVos’:

  • Background;
  • Significant political contribution;
  • Potential conflicts of interest, far-right ideology;
  • Negative influence on Michigan policies.

STOPPED

But since she had formally taken over at the Department of Education, the investigative work seems to have mostly dropped off; coverage of DeVos has focused more on her public gaffes than the inner workings of the agency she now runs. It certainly doesn’t help that DeVos and her department have struggled with media transparency. As education media writer Alexander Russo wrote, “DeVos takes press questions at events only occasionally, has yet to grant a formal interview with a major national education reporter, and heads a department that only intermittently provides answers in a timely manner – through a spokesperson whose name reporters are forbidden to use. The agency has even struggled to put out her weekly schedule in advance of public events.”

TIME TO DIG DEEPER

It’s time for investigative journalists to dig deeper and shine light on DeVos’ priorities, such as early staffing decisions at the Education Department. There’s surely plenty to explore — many of the temporary staffers in the Education Department are veterans of the right-wing think tank echo chamber on “education reform,” and some have anti-LGBTQ and anti-black track records. Like DeVos, almost none have spent time as educators. 

“BEACHHEAD” TEAMS

As ProPublica reported, the Trump administration has installed hundreds of officials across federal agencies including the Education Department (known as “beachhead” teams). Though the positions are designed to be temporary, many are expected to change into permanent roles, and may have “taken on considerable influence in the absence of high-level political appointees” who need to first be vetted and confirmed by the Senate:

Unlike appointees exposed to the scrutiny of the Senate, members of these so-called “beachhead teams” have operated largely in the shadows, with the White House declining to publicly reveal their identities.

STEP UP

The main stream media needs to step up and start digging – you are the only way the public knows what is happening!

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