I have to admit something. When I think of Betsy De Vos, I get a warm and happy feeling.
She is the right woman who was raised up at the right time.
No one else could do the job she's done.
She is uniquely qualified to fill her peculiar role.
I am grateful Trump nominated her for the role of Secretary of Education.
Because if he hadn't, we'd all be humming along as usual, paying no attention to the demise of public education, just as we've been doing for the previous twenty years while privatization has slowly spread its malignancy throughout our nation's public schools.
Betsy De Vos has accomplished the impossible. She has raised up tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans who suddenly realized they are, in fact, devoted to their public schools and want nothing to do with full privatization of American education.
They are questioning the lock-step, mind-numbed, head-bobbing affirmation of charters, which have largely gone unchallenged and unaccountable for decades. They have suddenly noticed the spectacular profits of the privatizers, following the money and seeing the ugly specter of that $500B industry Rupert Murdoch crowed about so many years ago.
They are looking at the use and success of vouchers and seeing that they come up short. They are realizing that not only do vouchers create an odd cross-pollinization of church and state, but also, a voucher in the amount of money that public schools allot a student wouldn't get you jack at a private school. $5000 doesn't go very far per student in the public schools, and it won't get you through the gate at most private schools.
Americans are suddenly noticing that it makes no sense that non-educators call all the education policy shots. The idea that Betsy De Vos--who has never taught, never administered, nor ever had kids at a public school--might soon be running all of ours just because she's a billionaire lobbyist--this suddenly strikes us as unacceptable.
Suddenly folks are noticing that not only our special education money but also our federal special ed guarantees are in jeopardy, calling into question the Constitution-backed affirmation of a free and appropriate public education for all students. They notice and they don't think it's right. They're realizing it's a terrible idea to have a secretary of education who does not even know that a right to a free and appropriate education for all is actually federal law and applies in all 50 states.
Because of De Vos's shameful record in Michigan, somehow everyone in the U.S. seems to be newly aware of the shocking disparities between public schools in heavily privatized urban areas and those in well-off communities, largely untouched by education profiteers. Everyone has somehow become aware of race-based inequities in urban systems and what a person like De Vos has to do with it.
I love Betsy De Vos. I can't think of anyone else who could have gotten so many Americans so excited about preserving what's left of our public school system. I've been writing about this stuff for years and haven't generated the tiniest fraction of enthusiasm about these issues that she's managed to generate in a matter of weeks. I've seen only a handful of outraged fellow citizens join in marches or opt out or calling CPS or elected officials--until she came along. I've watched in awe as our city's dedicated public schools advocates have fought battles with little popular support--researching, marching, going to Springfield, attending every CPS board meeting for years and years. But look at us now! The nation is roaring with support for public education, IDEA, accountability, transparency, and legislative involvement! Who could have accomplished this but her?
The last two or three entire presidencies seemed bent on slowly chipping away at our schools using a thousand little hammers of privatization. Our schools have been disintegrating right under our noses for decades.
But the buck stops with Betsy De Vos. She's so spectacularly, magnificently terrible that now everyone knows the privatization game, everyone sees, the profiteers cannot hide behind high-minded rhetoric, "civil rights," or "choice" any longer.
So yes, I love her. But not as our future secretary of education.
Why don't we show our schools some love and spend some time today making a few well-placed phone calls to senators--your own, and those in Maine, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Utah, North Carolina, Wyoming, Louisiana, Kansas, South Carolina, or Kentucky. Implore they vote no on Betsy De Vos. You have to do this today. Betsy De Vos, the most ill-equipped and inappropriate candidate ever nominated for Secretary of Education, will face a senate confirmation vote Tuesday, January 31st.
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