Betsy DeVos Comes Clean: A Fiction

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

One of US ed sec Betsy DeVos’ preferred phrases is “let me be clear.” She has used the phrase in numerous speeches/public responses (see here and here and here and here). However, I wonder what DeVos would say if she actually decided to be clear concerning her motivations in promoting two stock DeVosian ideas: 1) decision making *left to the states* and 2) hyperindividualism in school choice (i.e., that an education “system” is somehow a falsehood, an artifact of centuries past, or somehow in conflict with what is “best for each child”).

What if Betsy allowed America’s middle class behind the veil of her public words? How would such a speech read?

Below is my take on that very idea: Clear Betsy.

Without further ado, let the dance between fiction and reality begin.


First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for coming because I appreciate yet another opportunity to campaign in a manner that ultimately promotes my favorite minority, the one to which I belong: America’s elite among elite, those possessing the top .1% in American net worth.

One way to understand my elitist motivations is to study the history and positions of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Of course, I would have preferred that ALEC be kept from public awareness, which it was for almost four decades. However, the unfortunate truth is that those without the interests of corporate America in mind destroyed that beautiful ALEC secrecy in 2012.

The ALEC end game is to supplant federal control over states with corporate control. We prefer to promote this idea as federalism, or state control. The reality is states are ripe for control, and that control might as well come from moneyed interests– the .1%– rather than the federal government.

The beauty in promoting “state control” is that those outside of the top .1% (or, let’s be generous, outside of the top 1%) hear the term “state control” and equate it with “local control.” Though I occasionally mention local control, I do not ultimately advocate for local control. You will not hear me give a speech in which I advocate replacing state control with local control. Local control is too close to you people, and, as such, corporate interests become more difficult to serve because it is the state legislators (and therefore, statehouses) that ALEC corporations control, not usually the local politicians.

Besides, we lose the ability to hide our ALEC intentions behind federal scapegoating if we do not center our pseudo-local arguments on state control, and the best way to fool the public is to divert attention from the corporate control we desire by actively campaigning for federal control over states as the ultimate problem.

On the food truck of state control, local control is the condiments. I know about food trucks because I have seen them, and I have seen the condiments, as well.

As for my constant focus on the individual when it comes to school choice: Such a diversion is necessary in order to keep you people from forming and relying upon collectives.

Anyone outside of the .1% does not stand a chance against us individually; we can bulldoze such outsiders easily via our vast financial resources.

But when you people join together and pool your resources, well, that presents more of a problem. Not only do you begin to challenge us via your resources (one of which constitutes your very selves as a work force for our beloved corporations); your numbers draw attention to issues, attention that frankly slides the veil just a shade too far back from our self-serving motives.

That is why I hate unions. Now, it does not serve me to state so directly, so I instead prefer to appeal to the ideal of American individualism– an ideal, as I already mentioned, easily subdued.

As easy as leading one sheep away from the flock and into a dark wood in which one wolf awaits.

The single sheep who believes that one-on-one with a single wolf makes a fair match comes to a similar end as the single middle-class worker who believes his individuality equips him to effectively negotiate the terms of his employment with a single corporate magnate.

An individual worker who does not know his place can be replaced with little to no interference in production.

Though the sheep-wolf analogy breaks down if one considers that an entire flock of sheep poses no threat to a single wolf, a collective of middle class workers can pose a threat to corporate power– thus the need to fragment middle-class (and lower-class, for that matter) unity.

The same lack of individual power holds true of school choice. Break up the collective by first convincing parents that their individual voices drive school choice.

In reality, the so-called “empowered” parent has no power to make a school work for his or her child. However, convincing parents to Look Out for Number One, in turn, destabilizes the financial well-being of the community school (which I like to call outdated, just to push parents even further along the hyper-individualistic path), which, in turn, ideally leads to the freeing up of all of that public money to end up where it should be: under private sector control.

Once the money hits the private sector, it becomes easier to funnel upward, and as that money makes its sure way into the bank accounts of corporate America, the power of the .1% is strengthened regardless of the state of the American economy, with you people increasingly dependent upon us.

That is, if we can continue to successfully cripple that collective.

So, now you know the truth of it all. I think I can safely speak for ALEC in general when I say it is nothing personal, just the right of privilege.

If you were in my place, I’m sure you would understand.

Thank you; enjoy your food trucks, and God bless corporate America.


Originally posted 10-21-17 at


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.