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#ResistTrump today by calling senators about his terrible Education pick Betsy DeVos [UPDATED]

Betsy DeVos: School ruiner?

UPDATE 1/18/17: DeVos’ hearings were an utter fiasco; she made clear she lacks even a basic understanding of education issues. Mother Jones has gathered together videos of her worst moments here; Vox looks at one key issue she evidently knows nothing about. Also, BEARS!

Time to pester your senators again, this time about Donald Trump’s awful pick for Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos, a billionaire school-privatization fanatic who’s devoted more than two decades to questionable education “reforms” that put more government money into the pockets of private corporations and Christian schools while undermining public schools.

After a delay caused by her failure to fully disclose her financial info, DeVos will be grilled by members of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee today.

Lisa Graves of the progressive Center for Media and Democracy sets out the case against DeVos, noting in a post on PR Watch that many observers “have decried the choice as a looming disaster for public schools in America.”

Teachers unions are aghast:

Randi Weingarten, the president of AFT, stated that “Betsy DeVos is everything Donald Trump said is wrong in America–an ultra-wealthy heiress who uses her money to game the system and push a special-interest agenda that is opposed by the majority of voters.”

As Graves concludes,


The nomination of Betsy DeVos to be the head of the Department of Education is a clear sign that the nation is about to embark on a dangerously extreme national experiment in the privatization of our education system that could deal a death blow to our public schools as we have known them.

The expansion of charters has marched forward despite the fact that fly-by-night charter operators … have committed more than $200 million dollars in fraud and waste in recent years, as documented by the Center for Popular Democracy. …

As the Center for Media and Democracy has detailed, the federal government has spent nearly $4 billion in tax dollars on the charter school experiment advanced by DeVos and other billionaires, like the Kochs and the Walton family. …

[C]harter schools in the DeVos backyard of Michigan have been embroiled in fraud and scandal, and … the state has even received federal tax dollars for charters that never even opened. …


Betsy DeVos has used her family fortune to distort public policy to suit her personal agenda through direct donations and dark money because, in her own words, she wants a “return on our investment.”

Meanwhile, NPR notes that

DeVos and her family have given more than a million dollars to sitting Republican Senators, according to Federal Election Commission reports, as well as some $10 million more to Super PACs and party committees.

That has prompted numerous left-leaning groups, including End Citizens United, to call for some senators to recuse themselves on a DeVos confirmation vote.

Ya think?

So get calling! Or emailing!

You can find contact info for your senators here.

You can find out if they’re on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee here.

See my posts here and here for information and advice on how to make your calls and emails effective. If making these sorts of calls is tough for you, here’s some advice on calling politicians if you have social anxiety.

And please set some time aside this week to call your senators and congresspeople to urge them to oppose the GOP’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (See my post here.)

And to encourage them to boycott Trump’s inauguration. (See my post here.) At last count, more than 40 congresspeople have announced that they will be standing with John Lewis and skipping Trump’s coronation.

A real national resistance movement is developing to stand up against Trump and the Republicans. Make yourself part of it!

71 replies on “#ResistTrump today by calling senators about his terrible Education pick Betsy DeVos [UPDATED]”

@Molly T.: 4/10, not a very good troll.

@Imaginary Petal: as another Swede (have moved abroad, though I come home to see my family for the holidays), I feel for you.

I keep having to correct people online who think that we’re overrun with immigrants (who are of course all evil rapists, because… dark skin or something). And our homegrown racists make me want to despair, but we have to bear in mind that the decent people, of whatever skin colour, outnumber the bigots.

Mrs. Chad was a Mr. Al sock and they had that same TERF-y attitude that Molly T has expressed here. (Molly hasn’t said anything against trans* folks but the concept of needing to stand behind women because they’re women even if they’re horrible people is very TERF-y to me.) I think Mark and Miggy are different people, but I could be wrong.

the whole thing of Molly T criticising us for not being gender essentialists and therefore not “proper” feminists – while simultaneously espousing an ideology that thinks we should suck it up and get over different treatment – well, it’s just odd, and poorly thought through.


Mick Dash was Mark, Miggy was Mark Minter – two different idiots with a thousand socks each and the same first name. So yeah, don’t feel bad about getting them mixed up. =P

SFHC, Kupo:
Thanks, this helps my internal classification and identification system! They each have some strong tells when the noise is removed, don’t they?

I’d feel bad for Mrs. DeVos if it wasn’t such an important position she was being nominated for. She’s utterly unqualified and showed in the hearing she hasn’t even prepared well to try to cover for that.

Secretary of Education nominee stammering and BSing like a teenager who didn’t read the book they are giving a report on, while talking about a core educational philosophy question* is a great look.

*Using proficiency or growth as the metric. Al Frankin, you know the former comedian had to stop and define the terms for the DOE head nominee.

My mother is a retired public school teacher (special ed)

My sister is a teacher who can’t find work at the moment.

I went to public school.

I have trouble thinking if a single issue more important than providing a quality education for the entire electorate, and the only way for that to happen is by supporting the public school system. Of course, Trump and those like him want the electorate to be uneducated and ignorant, so that they are easier to lead around by the nose.

Not surprised by his Education pick. Disgusted, but not surprised.


Secretary of Education nominee stammering and BSing like a teenager who didn’t read the book they are giving a report on, while talking about a core educational philosophy question* is a great look.

It’s a look which is good enough to win the presidency, so what’s your problem?

Secretary of Education nominee stammering and BSing like a teenager who didn’t read the book they are giving a report on, while talking about a core educational philosophy question* is a great look.

*Using proficiency or growth as the metric. Al Frankin, you know the former comedian had to stop and define the terms for the DOE head nominee.

Oh my God that question. If you ever want to see pedagogical academics fight, ask them what the difference is between a proficiency and a skill is. Or just walk into the room, say “competency” and walk out again.


Best word of the day:

kakistocracy (n.)
“government by the worst element of a society,” 1829, coined (by Thomas Love Peacock) on analogy of its opposite, aristocracy, from Greek kakistos “worst,” superlative of kakos “bad” (which perhaps is related to the general Indo-European word for “defecate;” see caco-) + -cracy. Perhaps the closest word in ancient Greek was kakonomia “a bad system of laws and government,” hence kakonomos “with bad laws, ill-governed.”

– from Etymology Online


I generally have a tune in my head when I write these, but the only one that’s been put to music was thanks to our buddy dlouwe. The only instrument I can currently play with any kind of proficiency is the tuba.

Nonetheless, I’m glad you enjoyed it! (I admit I cribbed your favorite line from some Christian thing–“thou art the potter, I am the clay”–but, well, Christianity of some flavor is not uncommon among these types last I fucking checked.

True fact: My militantly atheist dad encouraged me to study the bible so I’d understand music better.

Why don’t the Republicans simply advertise cabinet positions on craigslist? Betsy DeVos bought the job, rather than earned it.

The thing about the bears is the smartest thing she said in her hearing.

In bear country, you have weapons on hand to scare off bears, and others to kill them if need be. You’ll have big-ass firecrackers and bear spray available at the very least. If a bear prowls around the school, someone is going to come by to chase it away, and will have a gun just in case. They’ll likely shoot the bear later, best not to shoot in town though.

So yes, “locales” (is that actually the right word? I’d have thought “localities”) should have some say about making exceptions for special cases like bears.

But… that’s a pretty fringe case. And the next question she was all fine with saying that “locales” should be banned from banning guns, and then her heart bled but she didn’t quite have that script memorized.

She’s just full of bear shit.

What actually are ‘Charter Schools?’ Are they public schools that become private schools, or am I way off the mark? (and does Britain have them?)

My understanding is that ‘Charter schools’ are essentially privately-run schools that still receive government funding. They are usually legally required to abide by the same restrictions as any other public school because of said government funding (i.e., teaching to the public curriculum, non-discriminatory on admissions, etc.) but said restrictions have widely varying degrees of enforcement.

The end result is that in many places they get to eat government funding while staying sufficiently ‘off the grid’ to do things that public schools wouldn’t be allowed to do. Like not accepting black or disabled students.


From what I understand, they’re privately-run publicly-funded schools, and there are a lot of issues with how they are being regulated. Relevant John Oliver segment:

According to in England the ‘grant maintained’ schools of the 1980s and 1990s are pretty similar, though the closest thing around now is the ‘Academy’.

Looks like England doesn’t have any legally recognized schools with quite the full autonomy of some of the U.S. Charter Schools.

A lot of Montessori or Waldorf schools qualify.

Canada, at least, only has them in Alberta.

So they’re basically private schools but they also get money from the government like a public school?

Even if they weren’t socially problematic as they apparently are, they’d still just seem unfair. Why should they get money when theyre supposed to also be making their own?

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