Sunday, November 27, 2016
The Amway-fication of the Department of Education
If there’s one thing we learned from the November 8 election, it’s that Georgians care about education and their children. Governor Deal’s plan to take over our schools was repudiated by 60% of the voters. Who would have thought this vote would be so meaningless, so fast? On one hand, we voted overwhelmingly not to dismantle our public education system, while at the same time, voted for a President who ran on an education platform of doing just that!
Everyone knew Trump promised to build a wall. Everyone knew Trump promised to wage war on immigrants. Everyone knew he promised to repeal ObamaCare. But, how many people knew Trump even had an education plan, not to mention a plan to use public money for unregulated for-profit charter schools? Yeah, that one kinda slipped by a bunch of people.
Trump’s sound bite rallies only allowed for time to say he would abolish Common Core. Betcha didn’t understand that to mean the entire elimination of public education, as we know it. Trump’s plan calls for the states collectively to contribute $110 billion of their education budgets and the Federal would chip in $15-20 billion in Title 1 monies that go to schools in the poorest areas. In turn, Trump’s plan calls for each student from K-12, be allocated $12,000 per year for school vouchers. That will send parents on a shopping spree among private and religious schools, charter schools, and even on-line schools.
Just in case you think that was just “campaign talk” by Trump and he really doesn’t mean it, look no further than Exhibit A, his pick for U.S. Secretary of Education—Betsy DeVos. Unless you hail from Michigan, you may not have heard of her. It is said she is worth $4 billion dollars by marrying into the Amway fortune. She is former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. She is described as an education activist, even though she has never worked in education, and neither she, nor her children ever attended a public school. Ms. DeVos has deep ties to the Christian Reform community in Michigan. She is founder and chairman of the American Federation of Children, which advocates for school choice reform. She has made it her life’s work to destroy public education in Michigan, spending tens of millions to steer public money away from public education and into State charter programs. Further, thanks to Ms. DeVos’ unwavering support, private companies run 80% of Michigan’s charter schools. That, my friends, is the future of education in the U. S. A. The End.
No! Wait! It doesn’t have to be the end. Betsy DeVos, nominee for U. S. Secretary of Education, must first be confirmed by the Senate. Hold that thought.
Trump’s appointments thus far have been abysmal; the appointment of Steve Bannon, the leader of the Alt-right movement; the appointment of disaffected General Mike Flynn. They do not have to be confirmed by the Senate. So forget them!
South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley has been picked by Trump as U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Her job will be to keep the Secretary of State informed on issues presented to the world body and inform the Secretary of State and the President on her recommendations on how to handle these issues. Her pick was not due to her vast experience, but her loyalty to Trump. Haley is probably one of the least prepared for this job in recent history. In ordinary times, she would probably never be confirmed. But with so many more important nominations to oppose, we must pick our battles.
The future of our children is worthy of a battle. We cannot put our entire education system in the hands of a person simply because she is a billionaire whose hobby has been making profits for investors in Charter Schools, procuring public funding for Christian schools, But Betsy DeVos does! and busting teacher unions. With Betsy DeVos at the helm of the Department of Education, the constitutional lines between separation of Church and State will be erased.
We Georgian’s sent a clear message on November 8, that our children’s education belongs in the hands of parents and school boards. This is one more battle we must fight.
Call our U. S. Senators today to make your voice heard and say “No” to Betsy DeVos.