Last weekend, I received a ballot in the mail. This was a bit strange as there was no upcoming local or state election so I was interested to see what it was. Apparently, Mount Vernon schools are needing a levy to fund them and the ballot (from the county auditor’s office) was just me marking “yes” or “no”. If the levy were to pass, property taxes would go up a certain amount per person per $1000 of property value. This could be a fairly substantial tax increase for my parents (who own the house I live in) and so I was discussing it with my mom when she shared some wisdom:
Always vote “yes” on a school levy because a funding schools helps to keep an educated populace.
We all saw what an uneducated populace did last November in electing Donald Trump so I did vote “yes” on both measures!
The school levy came to mind on Tuesday when Betsy DeVos, Trump’s horrid nominee for Secretary of Education, passed committee. I have never really gotten involved with administration nominees for Cabinet posts but DeVos and some others are so completely inappropriate for their jobs that I have had no choice but to call all the senators and advocate for them not to be confirmed! DeVos is probably the worst one with Senator Jeff Sessions being a close second.
So why is DeVos so unspeakably bad that I’ve spent hours annoying various senators other than my own?
[+] She doesn’t have an education degree. That should be the bare minimum qualification for the post. You wouldn’t want a doctor who majored in fine arts and never attended medical school, would you?
[+] She has never taught in a classroom setting. Again, this should be a minimum requirement. How can she make good decisions in her post if she lacks the experience to make them???
[+] She does not understand how higher education works and how higher education funding works. I’ll let Senator Elizabeth Warren tackle this one!
[+] She does not know anything about special education or the laws governing it. This probably the most important issue to me because of Daniel. Every teacher in every education program takes a class on special education and every teacher knows the terms IDEA, 504 Plan, and IEP. DeVos does not. As to why this is such a big deal, kids who are at private schools and who are homeschooled are eligible to receive services like occupational therapy and speech therapy through their local school district free of charge! Wouldn’t it be good to have a Secretary of Education who knows this???
Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire took her to task on this one!
[+] She has worked tirelessly to take public schools apart through voucher programs and trying to move education toward the private school and for-profit education model. I’m not saying that private schools, charter schools, or choosing to homeschool your kids are a bad thing — I have friends who were homeschooled and who have chosen to homeschool their kids. I also have friends who were homeschooled, were unprepared for college as a result, and are choosing to send their kids to public schools because they recognize that they do not have the ability to teach them.
Given that the Secretary of Education is effectively the superintendent of the nation’s education system and the lion’s share of the education system is comprised of public schools, shouldn’t they at least have an interest in saving them instead of defunding them? DeVos has never set foot in a public school building and that is quite disconcerting for those of us who depend on public education for their kids.
[+] She was nominated because her family is the largest donor of soft money to the Republican Party. Comments she made in 1997 are very telling:
“My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,” she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. “I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment.”
“People like us,” she added archly, “must surely be stopped.” (Source)
There were a couple of her financial recipients on the committee that passed on her nomination to the Senate at large. I find the idea of her buying this position to be horrifying and a sign that she doesn’t care about the education of the children of this nation — she only cares about getting political favors because she can buy them.
So please, I beg you, CALL YOUR SENATORS and tell them to oppose her confirmation. If you cannot get through to their Washington office, call their state offices. If you can’t get through by phone (a distinct possibility because a lot of people are calling in to try and get their senators to vote a certain way), fax them. Failing that, use the email form on their Senate website (http://[senator’s last name].senate.gov). Just please don’t let this unqualified woman be let loose on the nation’s schools!!!