Past Present Podcast: Betsy DeVos, Executive Orders, and Playgrounds


In this week’s episode, Niki, Neil, and Natalia debate Betsy DeVos and school privatization, the uses of executive orders, and the growing call for more dangerous playgrounds.

Betsy DeVos

Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education has prompted strong opposition in large part because of her advocacy of privatizing public education. Natalia and Jonathan Kozol spoke about the privatization push and other trends in education at the Tucson Festival of Books last year. You can watch their talk here. Natalia has written about education controversies in her book Classroom Wars. Neil recommended Seth Dowland’s Family Values for understanding how conservative parents embraces “school choice” in the 1970s and 80s.

Executive Orders

Donald Trump began his presidency with a host of executive orders on his first day in the White House. We discussed the history of executive orders. Niki recommended Graham Dodds’ Take Up Your Pen for a history of unilateral presidential directives.


We discussed the CityLab article that asks, “Can We Bring Back Riskier Playgrounds?

What’s Making History

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