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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Jeb Bush Swamp Fills Up At U.S. Ed Department

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. January 3, 2018

Recently President trump appointed Frank Brogan to the key position of assistant secretary of education for elementary and secondary education. This is puzzling since Trump campaigned on the promise that he would stop federal support of Common Core and return control over education to the states and the people. With the appointment of Brogan, a longtime Bush ally from Florida, the probability of that promise being kept seems to be fading.

Brogan has a long history of close ties with Bush. He spent most of his career in Florida in teaching and education administration before becoming the Florida Commissioner of Education. He served as Lieutenant Governor under Jeb Bush, followed by positions in higher education as chancellor of the state university system in Florida and then in Pennsylvania. He resigned recently from his Pennsylvania position because of mounting fiscal and enrollment problems troubles.

In 2013 when Brogan was asked about his position on Common Core, he was obviously a supporter, “The standards are basically completed, and most people seem to suggest that they're fair, they're rigorous and they're clear.” He’s supports using federal tax money for private schools.

His boss, Secretary Betsy DeVos, also supports Common Core and using federal tax dollars for private schools. Though she denied support for Common Core once nominated by Trump, the facts are undeniable.

She actively lobbied for implementation of Common Core in Michigan, financially supported pro-Common Core candidates in Michigan, financially supported pro-Common Core school board candidates in Alabama, and actively worked to defeat a bill that would have ended Common Core in Michigan.

DeVos served on the board of Jeb Bush’s pro-Common Core Foundation for Excellence in Education. Her own family’s charter school uses the Common Core curriculum.

DeVos is aligned with Jeb Bush on centralized control, federal school choice, digital training rather than academic learning, broad collection and use of student data mining by government and corporations, and expanded government pre-K programs.

Recently she stated that she will enforce the unconstitutional Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including approval of State Plans by the USDE.

She evidently supports Competency Based Education (CBE), which is computerized education that focuses on workforce training instead of academic learning. This seems evident by her position in the pro-CBE Bush foundation as well as her recent speech at the Arizona State University + Global Silicon Valley Summit in Utah where she talked about “inputs,” “outputs,” “seat-time,” “mastery ” – all CBE terminology.

Nothing has really changed from the Obama USDE. DeVos has assembled a pro-Common Core team and she subscribes to the same education philosophy.

Brogan joins a cadre of top-level department officials with a connection to Jeb Bush: Josh Venable, chief of staff, and Carlos Muñiz, general counsel under Bush and now USDE general counsel. Jim Blew, assistant secretary of planning, evaluation, and policy analysis, formerly served in a key K-12 post at the Walton Family Foundation, a major supporter of the Bush Foundation.

With DeVos’s choice of personnel, Trump’s plan to revolutionize public education by restoring constitutional authority to states to control their own standards, assessments, teacher hiring and evaluation, and structure has so far been empty campaign rhetoric.

President Trump’s promise to the voters cannot be accomplished under DeVos and her staff unless she makes significant changes. That necessitates changing her philosophy – and that is unlikely. 

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