THE SMARTIES

1. It’s Thursday, January 19, 2017. It’s the birthday of Paula Deen and Thomas Kinkade.

2. It’s the last full day of the Obama administration. Also the last full day of presidential dignity.

3. Trump’s Cabinet nominees have shown few signs of surprise competence in the Senate hearings.

I’m sure that, depending on what issues are most important to you, there’s a most infuriating one in the bunch.

My vote is Betsy DeVos, the pretty much uneducated choice for Secretary of Education.

Having just helped two children all the way to their college degrees, education is clearly important to me.

Particularly public education. I happen to live in a slightly above average suburban school district. There certainly are better ones. But, as certainly, there are worse.

The idea should be that all of them can improve. Especially those that are underperforming. Education can inspire kids to achieve beyond their circumstances, and is a source of satisfaction in and of itself.

But DeVos seems to be convinced that public schools, if they’re to be tolerated, should be made to enforce a value set – her value set – which includes religious beliefs that many Americans, perhaps a majority, don’t share.

Her Senate hearing was a comedy of errors. She doesn’t know much about student loans, even though the federal government is the largest provider of them. She doesn’t much about for-profit universities, which she would need to regulate. She doesn’t understand rules about special education, which is essential to children with disabilities and challenges.

And she doesn’t understand much about violence in schools, making the laughable statement that guns should be allowed in schools in case a grizzly bear attacks.

DeVos will be approved. She and her family, the people who inflicted Amway upon the world, have donated too much money to Republican lawmakers over the years for them to turn their backs on her now.

But parents and others concerned about the quality of schools in their area – that should be, but isn’t always, everyone – are going to have to cope with four years of no help from the federal government.

That seems unfair if your kids are going through their formative education years. I wish things were different.

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