DeVos Confirmation is Also Democrats’ Doing

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.

Comments (14)

  1. 12mileseastofTrenton

    Yep, fair point. And don’t forget “Democrats” Michelle Rhee and Eva Moskowitz.

    Reply
  2. Joseph

    The Cory thing scares me, since people talk him up as the future of the party. If he’s the future, the party might as well quit right now. Neoliberal privatization of education is not the future we need.

    Reply
    1. 12mileseastofTrenton

      He’s backed away from this position, apparently. How believable is his “change of heart” is debatable.

      Reply
  3. Steve M

    DeVos received 100% of her confirmation votes from Republicans. They voted to confirm her, despite massive public opposition, because she was nominated by a Republican president and she has given tons of money to elect Republicans (including many of the people who voted for her).

    To suggest that more Republicans would have voted against DeVos if some Democrats hadn’t supported education reform in the past is a complete leap of logic. The one has nothing to do with the other. We all know Cory Booker’s record on charter schools, but the fact is that if you replaced any one of these Republicans who supported DeVos with another Cory Booker, she would not have been confirmed.

    In the face of a vote where Democrats voted 48-0 to reject and Republicans voted 50-2 to confirm, arguing that both sides share the blame takes a certain kind of stubbornness. I am a public school parent myself, but if pro-public school liberals want to act like “meh, the Democrats are pretty squishy on education reform so maybe I’ll be lukewarm in my support,” the result is going to be more votes like this one.

    Democrats are largely susceptible to pressure from public school supporters like myself. Republicans, by and large, are not. That’s a strong reason to prefer Democrats on education, even imperfect ones.

    Reply
    1. 12mileseastofTrenton

      I think the point that was made was that someone like DeVos wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be picked had not some Democrats laid the groundwork by giving bi-partisan cover to the privatization movement for years.

      Reply
      1. Steve M

        Why not? She wasn’t presented as some kind of bipartisan nomination – her whole family is GOP activists – and every single Democrat voted against her. What did “bipartisan cover” have to do with her nomination?

        To me, this is just a tired “both sides are bad” narrative where even 100% Democratic opposition to something is still not good enough. I think it says good things that every Democrat opposed this nomination. They should be encouraged to keep acting that way, not told that they still suck.

        Reply
  4. Matthew Brian Hersh

    I agree that “DeVos” is a bipartisan product, but I’m not so sure we would not have seen her if the Dems has been more unified on public education. There is a knowledge deficit and wealth glut all across Trump’s cabinet. They’re all privatizers. Her nomination, however, is a true threat to an equitable society, but Trump’s cabinet is also a threat to an environmentally just society, an energy efficient society, a legally just society, an economically just society, and a socially just society.

    Reply
  5. ken bank

    Has Scott Pruitt been confirmed yet for EPA? It would seem that he is most vulnerable since many Republicans have come out against him, including former EPA Secretary Christie Whitman. I should think the latter would have testified before Congress in opposition.

    Reply
    1. 12mileseastofTrenton

      No he hasn’t. But he will be.

      Reply
  6. Bertin Lefkovic

    Personally, I am relieved that DeVos was confirmed in the narrow manner that she was. I was deeply concerned that if we had succeeded in peeling off one more Republican Senator and successfully blocked her nomination, someone even more dangerous, like Michelle Rhee, would have replaced her and been confirmed.

    I could be wrong, but I think that because she is as incompetent as she is, she will be less effective at achieving her agenda than someone far more competent and just as evil.

    And while I am not so deluded to think that any of Trump’s nominees might get blocked, if there is a chance at blocking anybody, I think that she would have been a waste of a block. There are other, far more dangerous nominees in his prospective Cabinet.

    Reply
    1. 12mileseastofTrenton

      Michelle Rhee is not worse than DeVos. Can’t get any worse.

      Reply
      1. Bertin Lefkovic

        I’m not saying that Rhee is necessarily worse than DeVos, but I think that she could be more dangerous, because she is far more competent. I could be wrong, but I think that DeVos has the potential to be more of an embarrassment than an effective advocate for her or Trump’s agenda.

        Reply
        1. 12mileseastofTrenton

          Perhaps.

          Reply

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