promoted by Rosi
Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate yesterday despite a historic national outcry. Tens of thousands of people called, emailed, tweeted and, when offices turned off the phones, faxed (!) statements against her. This vote– a 50-50 tie with a VP Pence tie-breaker– is a total slap in the face to us all. The DeVos family has donated nearly $1,000,000 directly to Republican campaigns, as well as over $8.3 million to Republican Party super PACs. Big money wins again.
But where the ‘blame” sits is not a simple partisan issue. I wish it was. As a Democrat, it’s tempting to blame the Republicans, to really despise what they are doing to public education. But we can’t forget how we got here.
Corporate education reform has been a hallmark policy of BOTH parties. Look to New York, where Governor Cuomo has long advocated for test-and-punish policies, inspiring the creation of advocacy groups like Long Island Opt-Out, now over 24,000 members strong. Look to Newark where Cory Booker (yes! even “progressive” Cory!) executed a bipartisan plan to privatize schools. Look to Atlantic City and Camden where a for-profit CMO has recently sprouted up, complete with Democratic party photo-ops. John King and Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretaries of Education, were both fervent believers in high-stakes testing, and other policies of the joyless classroom.
It is Democrats who we trusted to defend public education. And it was the Democrats who first sold us out.
Betsy DeVos is only possible because the Democrats have long paved the way for the privatization of our education system.
A candidate’s record on education policy is now a useful litmus test for how much their ideas truly align with progressive values. Have they defended public education, or have they sided with big-money, privatizing interests?
This fight for the heart and soul of public education is everywhere. It’s lines are drawn in every district, and every city in our state, but will not necessarily fall along clear party lines. We must fight, clearly and loudly, for the values we believe are at the heart of public education in our country, and we must hold Democrats accountable to these ideals. Values like: Local control, desegregation, democratic practices in schools, full and equitable funding, teacher autonomy, small, personalized classes with real human interaction, joyful learning, and respecting and trusting career teachers. NJ needs Democrats who will advocate for, fully fund and vocally support our public schools for all students, full stop.
We can no longer pretend progressive ideals are compatible with the privatization of our schools.