For the last several years, I have spent my fall supervising (consoling, supporting, commiserating, listening to, advising, crying with, laughing with, critiquing, boosting, hugging) student teachers. They have been an amazing, diverse, and skilled group. We need young people to want to become public school teachers. We need young people to be enthusiastic and determined and confident and humble in their desire to become public school teachers. The current New Jersey Governor has done a number on the hopeful enthusiasm new teachers have. And the push and pull between various advocates on all sides have also muddied and confused the education waters — with paperwork being the one true result to rely on. And still, people hear the call to teach in public schools.
With this in mind, the nomination of Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education makes me angry and frightened and determined to resist. Keep in mind that the President-elect has said he’d like to eliminate the Department of Education, whether colossal and immediate neglect or by slow, starvation-induced attrition.
This is reprinted with permission from a Facebook post by Shannon Carey. I added resource links.
I have been obsessively reading about Betsy DeVos. So that you don’t have to sink into the disgusting morass of arrogant, white-supremacist, homophobic hate-filled profiteering in the guise of “philanthropy” that I encountered in this research, I will bullet point some important information about her and what she represents, here.
1. She is a billionaire by birth (her dad ran an auto parts empire in MI) and by marriage (her husband is Dick DeVos of the Amway empire. Yes, that Amway, of pyramid scheme fame).
2. Her father helped fund and found Family Research Council (classified as an anti-gay hate group by SPLC in 2010) and Focus on the Family. These organizations demonize LGBTQ people and women who take control of their reproductive and emotional health.
3. Her brother founded Blackwater, a “private military firm.” Remember them, my Bush-remembering friends? Cozy with GWB, ran unchecked “security” in Iraq, killed Iraqi citizens with impunity. Now known as Academi.
4. Her mother was instrumental in getting Proposition 8 passed in California. Proposition 8 outlawed gay marriage in 2008.
5. Her family is very chummy with the Kochs, and they are a very integral part of the republican establishment.
6. Her husband was instrumental in getting “right-to-work” (aka: right-to-work-for-less) passed in Michigan. In MICHIGAN. The family is known to be obsessively and vehemently anti-labor, and have supporting union-busting legislation all over the country.
7. She has devoted much of her adult life to advocating for an expansion of charter schools and introduction of vouchers. She’s been more successful with charters, and Michigan is awash in for-profit charters, especially in Detroit. Google the recent NYT article on Detroit charters — it’s a travesty.
8. It’s been widely reported that she has never gone to a public school, worked in a public school, or been a public school parent. This is not insignificant.
9. Tr__p has advocated for nationwide vouchers, and while he cannot pass this without Congressional approval, her financial resources will very likely play a large role in herding House and Senate cowards towards what would very likely be a complete travesty in public education.
Public education is the the last and only social service we offer to every young person in this country. One could argue that it is the only structure in place — inadequate as it is — to combat the vast inequalities in our country.
Parents, teachers, students,and anyone concerned with an educated and cared-for populace should watch this appointment with eagle eyes and a spirit of resistance. Call your reps to let them know we cannot appoint someone who fundamentally does not believe in the tenets of providing people with a free and excellent education. Work with your local unions, parent groups, and school boards.
Deep breath. Take care of yourselves.