Alexander keeping U.S. Department of Education on a ‘tight leash’

First paragraphs of a Politico report:

Several months ago, Sen. Lamar Alexander phoned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with a message: Back off.

Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, was furious that a top DeVos aide was circumventing a new law aimed at reducing the federal government’s role in K-12 education. He contended that the agency was out of bounds by challenging state officials, for instance, about whether they were setting sufficiently ambitious goals for their students.

DeVos’ agency quickly yielded to his interpretation of the law — and she “thanked me for it,” Alexander told POLITICO.

Alexander’s heavy hand raises questions about who’s calling some of the shots at the Education Department, an agency he once headed — and to which DeVos came with virtually no expertise in running government bureaucracies.

DeVos has been a lightning rod in the education world and one of the most controversial members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. She made her name as a school choice activist and billionaire Republican donor before she was nominated to run the Education Department. With Alexander running the key Senate oversight committee, observers say he’s trying to keep her agency on a tight leash.

But some see Alexander’s moves earlier this summer as presumptuous — and believe they not only abruptly changed how the agency is enforcing the law, called the Every Student Succeeds Act, but could translate into little to no federal oversight of state education.

2 Responses to Alexander keeping U.S. Department of Education on a ‘tight leash’

  • Diana Page says:

    In my opinion, the verbiage “school choice” is misleading and has confused issues in public education.

    Voucher and many Charter proponents use this terminology, which intentionally clouds the issues. The proponents’ primary agenda is usually privatization, ideologically and/or financially fueled, in the guise of concern for education.

    Unfortunately, vested interests persist in pursing this agenda despite demonstrated frequent negative outcomes. Why?

    It would perhaps be clearer to use terms such as “school outsourcing,” “school contracting,” etc.

    Most urban/suburban public schools already provide lots of choices, eg., arts focus, stem focus, magnet schools, etc.

    It would be great if the media would wordsmith this for greater clarity. The public depends on reputable media–word choice makes a difference. In many cases, it has been decisive.

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    “Education,” like so many other things is a function that constitutionally is left to the states. The federal government is over $20 TRILLION in debt. Conservatives were against the formation of a Dept. of Education at the federal level since its inception and continue to advocate its elimination together with the aid, rules, and regulations that accompany it. We are simply getting more government than we can afford and/or are willing to pay for so it’s past time to cut the federal government back.

    Let the Diana Page’s of the world control the education at the state/local level. To the extent they succeed they will be copied elsewhere, to the extent they fail that control will be taken away and vested in others by the taxpayers at the state/local level. Lamar is about the last person in the world to initiate such a change, perhaps we will send someone to Washington after 2020 who will.

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