Fake News

No, there’s no reason to think DeVos is planning to resign, contrary to viral news stories

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Betsy DeVos used virtual reality glasses during a visit to Indiana.

Betsy DeVos haters can rejoice it seems: The secretary is planning to resign from Trump’s cabinet, according to a much-shared Salon story.

But it’s not true — there is no indication that DeVos is planning to quit.

The story, originally published on the progressive site Alternet, claims in its headline that “Officials expect DeVos to resign from Trump administration.” A piece for the website Raw Story also made a similar claim.

As of this morning, the Salon version had racked up over 250,000 shares on Facebook. Prominent people have posted it on Twitter, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, who described it as “breaking news,” and an Ohio congresswoman.

In fact, the article does not rely on any original reporting, but simply draws from a lengthy Politico profile of DeVos, focusing on the constraints she has hit as head of the Department of Education.

In the piece, FutureEd think tank director Tom Toch said, “In Washington education circles, the conversation is already about the post-DeVos landscape, because the assumption is she won’t stay long.”

This appears to be the sum of the claim that “officials” think DeVos will resign; in fact, Toch is not a government official. And in context, Toch’s quote appears to be speculative rather than based on any direct knowledge that DeVos plans to leave imminently. (The Salon story itself is more careful than the headline, and does not say directly that DeVos had specific plans to resign.)

Toch himself said on Twitter that he did not mean to imply that DeVos had specific plans to quit.

DeVos has been beset by criticism, but has repeatedly reiterated — including in the Politico story — that she plans to serve all four years in the Trump administration. Of course, that might change, but there’s nothing suggesting so, at least right now.

This comes at a time where many in the education world — and beyond — have called for helping students learn how to recognize fake new and evaluate evidence.

Meanwhile a number of education journalists criticized the story as inaccurate on Twitter. These corrections, though, are unlikely to get the same viral traction that the original story has. 

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breaking news

Tennessee down to two finalists to lead its school turnaround district

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
Memphis is the home of most of the Achievement School District's turnaround work.

A Memphis-based education consultant and a Rhode Island school innovator have emerged as the two finalists to lead Tennessee’s school turnaround district.

Keith Sanders is the CEO of his own consulting group in Memphis and is the former chief officer of school turnaround at the Delaware Department of Education. He was a principal at Riverview Middle School in Memphis before leaving in 2007 to co-found the Miller-Mccoy Academy in New Orleans, an all-boys charter school that shuttered in 2014.

Stephen Osborn is the chief for innovation and accelerating school performance at the Rhode Island Department of Education. He previously was an assistant superintendent with the Louisiana Department of Education and a chief operating officer with New Beginnings Charter School Network in New Orleans.

Their deep experience with charter schools would be a must for the next leader of Tennessee’s charter-reliant Achievement School District, which launched in 2012 with the charge of turnaround around the state’s lowest-performing schools.

The two finalists emerged on Wednesday from a list of four candidates released last week by Tennessee’s Department of Education. Gone are Brett Barley, deputy superintendent for student achievement with the Nevada Department of Education, and Adam Miller, executive director of the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at the Florida Department of Education.

The new superintendent will succeed Malika Anderson, who left the job last fall after almost two years at the helm. Kathleen Airhart, a longtime deputy with the Tennessee Department of Education, has been serving as interim leader.

The job will require overseeing 30 low-performing schools — the majority of which are run by charter organizations in Memphis — at a time when the Achievement School District has much less authority than when it launched during the Race to the Top era.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated throughout the day.

You can view the finalists’ resumes below:



Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.