Together, led by federal policy elites, Republicans and Democrats espoused the logic of markets in the public sphere, expanding school choice through publicly funded charter schools. Competition, both sides agreed, would strengthen schools. And the introduction of charters, this contingent believed, would empower parents as consumers by even further untethering school enrollment from family residence.
The bipartisan consensus also elevated the role of student tests in evaluating schools. The first President Bush ushered in curricular standards in 1989 when he gathered the nation’s governors, including Bill Clinton of Arkansas, for a meeting in Charlottesville, Va. In a decade, George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation mandated accountability testing nationwide, tied to the standards that his father and Mr. Clinton had promoted.
The law was then modified under the Obama administration; still, the core logic of test-based accountability as a solution to closing the achievement gap was preserved. Arne Duncan, Mr. Obama’s education secretary, who was cool to teachers unions and spoke the language of markets, even threatened to withhold federal funds from California in 2013 if it didn’t test all its students.
Ms. DeVos, a critic of what she calls “the overreach of the federal government in education,” displayed no interest in this neoliberal compromise. Instead, she spent much of her time crusading for religious schools.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results