Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 1 of 8)

0001 Betsy DeVos serves as the eleventh Secretary of Education of the US Federal Government.  She advocates for reform.  She speaks for herself.  Whether her message is heard by the people is another matter.  Her book’s full title is Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child.  The publisher is Center Street (Nashville, New York), a division of Hachette Book Group (New York).

0002 Hachette?

Isn’t that French for “tiny axe”?

0003 Well, I have my own little cognitive hatchet.  It is called the category-based nested form.  I used this tool in the May 2023 blog (www.raziemah.com), Looking at Heather Heying and Bret Weinsteins’s Book (2021) “A Hunter-Gather’s Guide to the 21st Century”.

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein resigned from modern higher education in 2017 and are now offering guidance, in the form of the Darkhorse podcast.  These two were not about to be held hostage by the minions of big government (il)liberalism (BG(il)L: spoken “bigilib”).

Why did these two professors run from the BG(il)L education system?

Perhaps, it no longer teaches critical thinking, unless, of course, one alters the definition of the term, “critical”.

Does “critical” mean “be skeptical” or does it mean “situate by Marxist resentment”?  Most people would point to the former, but educators teaching so-called “critical theory” technically indicate the latter.

The April 2023 blog, Looking at Gad Saad’s Book (2020) “Parasitic Mind”, educes a three-level interscope where three normal contexts align.  Social justice3c virtually brings critical theory3b into relation with the potential of social constructivism3a.

0004 Saad’s reality makes Betsy DeVos’s book intriguing.  

Do the nested forms obtained in prior examinations apply to Betsy DeVos’s work?

What does that imply?

That is all I axe.


Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 2 of 8)

0005 How to begin?

Here is how Looking at Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein’s Book (2021) The Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21stCentury ends.  A BG(il)L education system may be depicted as a two-level interscope.  The two level interscope is introduced in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction (by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues).  A two-level interscope associates to sensible construction.

Figure 01

0006 On the content level, the normal contexts of individual and institutional development3a bring the actuality of certification2a into relation with the potential of ‘personal and government motivations’1a.  Note that the individual and the institution belong to the normal context3a and potential1a, implying that the individual adopts motivations promulgated by the state.  There is word for the condition where a person adopts the motivations of a governmental system in order to get ahead (in this case, certified2a).  Dare I say the colloquial version of that word?

0007 On the situation level, the normal context of individual and cultural selection3b brings the actuality of specialization2b into relation with the potential of ’employment’1b.  This implies that ‘a job’ conveys the potential of the entire content level nested form.  What might be an alternative?  How about ‘character development’?

With that idea in mind, take a look at the normal context3b once again.  Both individual and cultural selection2b endeavor to fill specialized2b jobs1b with individuals willing to (dare I say the word?) to government systems in order to get ahead.  Perhaps, I can call the process, “unnatural selection”.

0008 Who would volunteer to become hostages… er… collaborators to such a system?

Betsy DeVos’s political adversaries.

Indeed, they would volunteer every child to become a hostage in their BG(il)L system.  After all, being a hostage is good for them.  Being a hostage turns them into collaborators (rather than sovereign individuals).  Being a hostage2a is the pathway to getting a job1b.

0009 The BG(il)L system is not about character development, which requires guidance.  It is all about expertise, which requires instruction.  Experts are specialists2b.  Experts are certified2a to participate in particular occupations1b. Specializations2b virtually situate certification2a.

The two-level operation appears sensible.  DeVos talks about mastery of subject.  Is that the same as expertise?  These terms belong to a level that does not appear in the above figures.  The perspective level only becomes visible when the content and situation levels fail.  Is the above sensible construction failing?  Well, I already know that it fails anyone who does not want to conform their personal motivations1a to the desires of the state1a in order to get a job1b.

0010 Does this fit with DeVos’s storyline?

I think so.  DeVos writes as if she holds a perspective-level solution to mandatory BG(il)L education systems.  Subject mastery2c is not the same as expertise2c.


Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 3 of 8)

0011 The prior blog provides a glimpse into the perspective-level actuality2c that contextualizes America’s established BG(il)L education system.  Here is how experties2c fits into the picture.

0012 The perspective-level normal context3c and potential1c are not obvious.  The perspective-level actuality2c is.

Expertise2c virtually brings specialization2b into relation with the potential of certification2a.  This is obvious.

The perspective-level normal context3c and potential1c are not so obvious, because the situation- and content-level normal contexts, as well as the potentials, confound the individual, the institution and the government.

0013 Here is a picture.

Figure 03

0014 The perspective-level virtually brings the situation-level into relation with the potential of the content-level.  In this instance, “virtual” could mean either “in simulation” (the modern option) or “in virtue” (the scholastic option).

0015 For actuality, expertise2c virtually brings specializations2b into relation with the potential of certification2a.

For the column of normal contexts, a BG(il)L perspective3c virtually brings individual and cultural selection3b into relation with the potentials of individual and institutional development3a.  The perspective-level normal context3c must embody the government1a that appears in the content-level potential1a.  The normal context3c also must set the stage for cultural selection3b, in regards to both individuals (who are selected for specialization2b) and institutions (who are selected for providing the education leading to certification2a).

Betsy DeVos says, over and over, that the Federal Department of Education is concerned about institutions (such as colleges, school districts, administrators and unionized teachers), rather than students.  They are interested in processes that provide instructions leading to certification (for students motivated to fit into an already established menu of specializations).  They could not care less about what students really need.  They presume that students need to conform to their programs, their goals and their definition of what students must know in order to acquire certification.

0016 What label applies to the perspective-level normal context3c?

Would the term, “big government”, suffice?

0017 The perspective-level potential1c virtually contextualizes jobs1b, while jobs1b virtually situate personal and governmental motivations1a.  What is the nature of this perspective-level potential1c?  First, it defines jobs1b through regulatory controls.  For example, a government may decree that only certain specializations2b (which much be certified2a) are allowed to perform certain tasks… er… jobs1b.  Second, governmental motivations1a are taken for granted by people motivated1a to become specialized2b in order to obtain well-defined jobs1b.

In other words, the government maintains regulatory control of the situation (jobs1b) while providing the appearance that the individual is free to choose his or her own destiny (personal motives1a).  In the process, government motivations1a are simply taken for granted and not contested.  After all, it would not be sensible to contest government motivations1a.  Most students and parents have no clue that their ambitions are pursued in conformity with government agendas.

0018 What label applies to the perspective-level potential1c?

Would the term, “(il)liberal”, do the trick?

Well, what does (il)liberal mean?

Liberalism elevates individual autonomy… say, sovereignty… above various authorities, including religious institutions, businesses, civic networks, military organizations, governments, and so forth.  So, the prefix, (il), is hidden because there is an unacknowledged exception.  The government is excepted.  So, (il)liberalism provides the appearance of individual autonomy while maintaining government regulatory control.

The virtual nested form in firstness says, “(Il)liberalism1c virtually brings jobs1b into relation with the potentials of personal and governmental motivations1a.”

0019 Here is the perspective-level nested form for BG(il)L education.

Figure 04

Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 4 of 8)

0020 Here is a picture of what Betsy Devos faces when she is appointed the head of the federal Department of Education.

Figure 05

0021 Once again, (il)liberalism provides the feeling of individual autonomy (where the individual is sovereign) while simultaneously creating the conditions (because the state is sovereign) that big-government directed processes (such as, certification) are mandated.

0022 This produces an awkward realization.

If students are hostages to BG(il)L education systems, then they are because their captors3a are themselves hostages3b to the normal context of big government3c.

As such, the captors3b, who are also hostages to big government3c, want institutional development3a to be the key aspect of the content-level normal context, rather than individual development3a.  They must project the illusion that institutional development3a translates into individual development3a.  In other words, individual development3a is held hostage to institutional development3a.

0023 Will this change with the political implementation of education freedom?

Well, allow me to replace two elements in the previous interscope.

Educational initiatives3c becomes the perspective-level normal context.

Freedom1c becomes the perspective-level potential.

0024 Here is a diagram with the substitution.

Figure 06

0025 Is this the vision of Betsy DeVos?

No wonder the knives are out at the Department of Education, the school unions, and the corporate media.

0026 BG3c(il)L1c must not be replaced by state intiatives3c and educational freedom1c.

On one hand, to certain stakeholders, big government3c is supposed to take the initiative1c in actualizing the importance of expertise2c.

On the other hand, Betsy DeVos sees states and localities as the ones determining the perspective-level normal context.  Throughout the book, she cites example after example of states and localities creating and maintaining educational initiatives3c.  Plus, there is no mandate for education listed in the American Constitution and Bill of Rights.  So, the federal government has no warrant for intervention in the field of education.  Except, of course, as a ploy to get President Jimmy Carter re-elected.

0027 So, I know where the Department of Education stands in regards to where BG3c(il)L1c ought to be.


Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 5 of 8)

0028 State and local initiatives3c contextualize a perspective-level actuality2c that manifests the potential of educational freedom1c.

0029 What is freedom1c and how is it different from (il)liberalism1c?

(Il)liberalism1c maintains regulatory control while promoting the appearance of individual autonomy.

Freedom1c requires the person to take initiatives in the face of uncertainty.

0030 What do I mean by freedom1c?

The virtual nested form in the realm of potential says, “The normal context of educational freedom1c brings the actuality of one’s occupation1b into relation with the potential of ‘both personal motivations and the perspective-level normal context of educational initiatives’1a.”

What is a one word label for the perspective-level normal context of local initiatives1c projecting motivational awareness into the content-level potential1a?

Does the term, “empowerment”, apply?

0031 Uh-oh, Betsy DeVos now replaces three elements in the interscope of BG3c(il)L1c education.

Figure 07

0032 Obviously, DeVos’s use of the term, “empowerment”, does not coincide with its use the normal context of big-government3c.  For BG(il)L, “empowerment” conveys the illusion of individual autonomy within the (hidden) normal context of regulatory control.  

0033 When a parent and a student hear the word, “empowerment”, they imagine that there is only one meaning to the term.  Is that not the way that spoken words work? Words are placeholders in a system of differences.  One cannot have one placeholder in two systems of differences.

Or… can one?

Obviously, the meaning of the word, “empowerment”, depends on whether the perspective-level normal context is the Department of Education’s big government3c or Betsy DeVos’s creative initiatives3c.

0034 Is this some sort of language game?

Betsy DeVos made a move, substituting a new terms in for three elements of the BG(il)L interscope.

What are her opponents, the devotees of BG(il)L, going to do?

0035 What is the opposite of freedom? 

How about slavery?

Slavery is a system where every person is certain to have a job.  It is the ultimate act of equal employment.  Slavery is the ultimate occupation in terms of certainty, even though no one wants the jobs.

0036 What does this imply?

Freedom associates to uncertainty.

Slavery associates to certainty.

BG(il)L offers the facade of individual autonomy while retaining regulatory control.

BG(il)L offers the facade of freedom while keeping the subject a slave.

BG(il)L offers, in a world filled with uncertainty, certainty.

If you get the certificate2a, then you will get a job1b that shows that you belong to a profession2b.  That is certainty1c.

BG(il)L initiatives3c cultivate certainty1c and job security1b.

Betsy DeVos’s initiatives3c create uncertainty1c and jobs that are not defined by federal regulations1b.

0037 Here is a picture of how the manipulative permanent members of the Department of Education respond to the establishment-challenging rhetoric of Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of the Department of Education

Figure 08

Power must be restored to the bureaucrats,.

0038 What does this back and forth imply?

In the imperial capital, it is all a game of words.  Each technical term, such as “empowerment” and “freedom”, has one meaning in the interscope of BG(il)L3c and another meaning in the interscope of Betsy DeVos3c, the eleventh Secretary at the Department of Education.

0039 The three-level interscope is the game board.

Betsy DeVos makes a move.

The establishment counters.


Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 6 of 8)

0040 Given the tussle between the established players of the Department of Education and the Secretary of the Same Department, I wonder.

Are there any other tussles going on?

After all, this rhetorical game of element substitution for the interscope of BG(il)L education can also be played by factions within the Department of Education itself.

0043 The Department of Education’s BG(il)L perspective serves the interests of a central government attempting to manage individual ambitions by providing pathways to specializations2b, hence jobs1b, through certification2a.  The central government engages in cultural selection3b (in the specializations that they regulate) and individual selection3b (in that individuals exercise automony1a in their alignment with BG(il)L incentives1a towards certification2a).

0044 So, what happens if factions within the central government desire more?

What if a faction desires to manage the individual itself?

How weird can BG3c(il)L1c get?

0045 Well, I already know that, in some universities in the West, social constructivism replaces all fields of inquiry that presume that humans encounter mind-independent realities (including the reality of others’ mind-dependent beings, both past and present).

Indeed, social constructivism replaces the potential of truth with the potential of the human will.

Or, something like that.

0046 See Looking at Sad Gaad’s Book (2020) Parasitic Mind, at Razie Mah’s blog, running in April 2023.

What do individuals socially construct?


My identity becomes my job1b.

The group that I identify with becomes my specialization2b.  Another word for specialization is “lifestyle2b“.  What are your chosen pronouns?

Individual and cultural selection3b then morphs into group-identity… er… lifestyle selection3b.

0047 Here is a picture of the substitutions on the situation level.

Figure 09

0048 For the perspective level, BG(il)L interventions3c replace big government3c.

These interventions3c select in favor of some lifestyles3b (take a guess, I bet that none of the guesses describe Betsy DeVos) and against other lifestyles3b (take a guess, I bet that many of the guesses apply to Betsy DeVos).

Indeed, a whole new suite of expertise is demanded.  This expertise2c is capable of explaining BG(il)L perspective-level interventions3c in terms of social justice, critical theory and social constructivism.  Interventional expertise2c emerges from (and situates) the potential of ‘certainty’1c.  In turn, certainty1c virtually contextualizes identity1b.  Plus, identity1bvirtually situates the personal choice that one is groomed for1a.

0049 Here is how the “woke” faction of the Department of Education alters the three-level interscope of BG(il)L.

Figure 10

Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 7 of 8)

0050 Surely, Gad Saad, Heather Heying, Bret Weinstein and Betsy DeVos address an unanticipated historical moment,marked by a failure of the Federal Department of Education to maintain the virtual nested form of (il)liberalism1cbringing jobs1b into relation with the possibility that individuals are motivated1a to become certified2a as specialists2bwho will then fill those jobs1b.  The student loan crisis is a symptom of that failure.  Students are not getting the jobs1bthat they are specialized2b in, indicating a failure of the federal educational system3b.

0051 In contrast, Betsy DeVos proposes educational3c freedom1c.

Her proposals alter the ongoing BG(il)L three-level paradigm.

Figure 11

Indeed, these are just the beginning.

0052 Federal bureaucrats counter with BG(il)L initiatives2c that promise certainty1c, rather than the uncertainty that they rhetorically associate with freedom1c.

Figure 12

0053 At the same time, a faction within the Federal Department of Education wakes up.  They see that the central government is no longer interested in just regulating the organization tier. It wants to control the society and individual in community tiers as well.

Plus, the central government is catastrophically failing in its control of the economic sphere, as witnessed in the fact that (1) certified individuals are saddled with enormous amounts of debt that they cannot seem to pay off and (2) one of the (if not the) largest assets of the federal government consists in student loans.

This faction becomes “woke”, initiating a substantial overhaul of the BG(il)L interscope on the basis of three intellectual movements: social justice, critical theory and social constructivism.

Figure 13

0054 None of these interscopes are fixed.  They are like pictures of a chessboard during certain moments in a tournament.  At the same time, they suggest what is at stake.  If federally financed education is not about training for jobs1b, then is education about being groomed for an identity1b?

The game plays out in the theater of politics, just like Shakespeare’s King Lear plays out in a conventional theater.  Actors speak their lines, hoping to convince a naive audience that their stories are real.  But, the real drama goes on in the minds of the audience, who are constantly asking themselves, “What the hell is going on?”


Looking at Betsy DeVos’s Book (2022) “Hostages No More” (Part 8 of 8)

0055 Now comes the moment of truth.

The curtain is closed.

Before it opens, I want to thank Betsy DeVos for taking this reader beyond the notion of school choice and into the dynamics of educational freedom1c.  There is more to be discovered in this new jurisdiction, standing outside the prison of big government3c (il)liberalism1c.

0056 Of course, the curtain may never open.  People may decide that it is better to live as slaves under the appearance of freedom.  But, that collective decision only assures the experts that appearances are no longer necessary.  Experts are trained to know these things.  Certain experts are prepared to make us slaves to the identities that they have manufactured for us.

0057 Be that as it may, the following diagram presents (what I imagine) is behind the curtain.  Betsy DeVos’s educational interscope is a vision to behold.

Figure 14

Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.3 XE

Summary of text [comment] pages 86 and 87

[Each of these models exhibits a simple relational structure.

The relational structure illustrates how difficult discussions of various topics, such as freedom, can be.

Imagine a thinker focusing on one structural element to the exclusion of other elements.

This is especially easy to imagine when the one thinker is trying to show how another thinker is wrong.]


Man and Sin by Piet Schoonenberg (1964) 2.3 MW

[Progressive institutions insist on a litany of obligations, expressing what the citizen ought to be. Their demands backed by the sword of the sovereign.

Progressive institutions compete with the family, tribe and religion. They want to be responsible for you (not to you).

They work through words: legal codes, deceptive labels, surveillance, indoctrination, mandatory education, rewriting history, agenda setting, ridicule and ostracism.]