Trump Education Pick Will Inflict Generational Damage on America

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*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

It seems like each new day is another sign that the incoming administration is Hell-bent and duty-bound to inflict some serious short- and long-term damage on America. It is true that a substantial number of American citizens are going to die unnecessarily as a result of “making America great,” but it is the “really” long-term damage that Americans should be concerned about and it involves today’s children.

There is no doubt that civil rights, women’s rights and human rights are going to take a hit from the new government and although it will be severe, the damage is nothing compared to what Trump’s education secretary designee, Betsy DeVos, will inflict on the nation for a generation. If DeVos has her way, and there is every reason to believe she will, the damage on the next generation of Americans will be substantial and lifelong. Without a well-educated and informed populace, America’s crumbling democracy will not survive although Republicans will thrive beyond their wildest dreams. Nothing is as terrifying to Republicans as an informed electorate and because America’s public school students excel around the world if adequately funded, Republicans want public schools replaced with woefully underperforming for-profit charter and private religious schools – paid for by taxpayers.

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This week Betsy DeVos attends Senate confirmation hearings that were postponed from last week. Republicans wanted to ram through as many un-vetted cabinet appointees as possible and DeVos was a special case. However, Senate Republicans were pressured by Democrats to delay DeVos’ confirmation by a week over the fact that the Office of Government Ethics did not have adequate time, or requested information, to complete its review of DeVos’ financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest.

Among other things, there are some Senate Democrats demanding that the good Christian DeVos finally pay of a delinquent (2006) $5.3 million dollar fine incurred by Ms. DeVos’ charter-privatization PAC levied in Ohio ten years ago. The fine is for illegally giving $870,000 to an Ohio school-choice organization in a clear violation of well-known state election law. It is a portent of the kind of woman DeVos is if she willingly violated a neighboring state’s election laws to push her privatization failure in Michigan on Ohio students and taxpayers to profit corporate and religious schools.

Republicans in Congress who are intent on privatizing the entire government believe that DeVos, “an extreme right-wing bigot” with no experience whatsoever as an educator, is the ideal person to dismantle public schools. It is noteworthy that not only has DeVos zero experience in public education, she has never attended a public school or sent her own children to public schools. The sum total of her public education experience is spending outrageous sums of money to destroy them to make room for taxpayer-funded corporate and religious schools.

DeVos is a right-wing fanatic in the mold of the Koch brothers who promotes giving parents coupons for religious and corporate charter schools paid for with public school money. Despite DeVos’ efforts in Michigan where there is an over-abundance of her failed school choice projects, including the disastrous effort to spread charters in Detroit, Republicans still want her running the nation’s education department. Not only has DeVos’ Michigan experiment failed to increase student achievement while allowing charters to operate with little to no accountability or oversight, she funded a very costly lobbying effort to defeat Michigan legislation holding taxpayer-funded, for-profit charters, accountable to the public.

DeVos doesn’t want her “education vision” to face accountability and public scrutiny because she knows it is the definition of substandard, fails students, and is simply profit generator for “private and religious schools” funded by American taxpayer dollars. DeVos also poses a threat to eliminate students’ civil rights as CREDO points out:

DeVos has an appalling record on civil rights, which indicates she will be a threat to LGBTQ children, especially transgender students, who face prejudice, harassment and bullying in schools and suffer from higher rates of depression and suicide than non-LGBTQ classmates.”

It is noteworthy that DeVos has personally funded a number of anti-gay organizations that oppose marriage equality, and she supported the case to overturn affirmative action in Michigan that went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in sweeping limits on race-based admissions policies at universities across the country.

DeVos’ work to promote charters extends across the nation, but her real damage has thus far been most severely felt in her home state of Michigan. The results of charter school expansion in Michigan, and especially in Detroit, have been, by any measure, worse than dismal. Still, billionaire DeVos and her billionaire family continue pushing to eliminate accountability and oversight of charter scams even as most other states monitor charters’ results, hold them accountable for poor performance, and require them to renew their charters. Because of DeVos’ handiwork, and unlimited funding money, Michigan charters can operate as long as they want, and the state is restricted from providing even minimal oversight.

Ms. DeVos’ has no better record on charters than she does on pushing the education coupon agenda that forces individual states to use public school taxpayer dollars to pay for religious children to attend private and religious schools

Not only does the data not show that this evangelical abomination does nothing whatsoever to improve the achievement of mostly poor and minority children in underfunded public schools, it obliterates the line of separation between church and state. A line, by the way, that is going to be attacked on several fronts by religious Republicans because they now have an evangelical domestic chief, Mike Pence, setting policy according to his religious beliefs.

The damage an extremist like DeVos can wreak on the next generation is significant and arguably longer-lasting than anything a one-term administration can inflict. There is a petition here to block DeVos’ confirmation that may influence a wayward Democrat thinking of supporting DeVos, but without a monumental flood of constituent pushback, Republicans will install the cretin as education secretary.

Unfortunately, that means the idiotic morons that keep electing Republicans will be joined by yet another generation of uninformed and uneducated religious bigots because they attended for-profit corporate charter and religious schools to profit corporations and keep Republicans running the government.

Image: CredoAction