Betsy DeVos was terrible at her job and knew nothing about public schools. That was exactly what the far right wanted

Betsy DeVos official White House portrait

Even Betsy DeVos — one of the longest-serving of Donald Trump's revolving-door cabinet secretaries — finally reached what she called an "inflection point" with the former president's open call for violent insurrection, resigning slightly before he left office. Amid the chaotic Trump administration, DeVos was in many ways the perfect choice for education secretary. She showed an astounding lack of knowledge about public education. She seemed at best uninterested and at worst downright hostile to America's public schools.

DeVos' tenure leaves us with unanswered questions: How is it possible that the leader of the Education Department could be so indifferent to public education itself? Why wouldn't she learn the basics about her own department?

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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