Donald Trump’s cabinet was filled with unqualified an incompetent people. But no one in Donald Trump’s cabinet was as unqualified and incompetent as Betsy DeVos.
Trump tapped the billionaire donor to be his Secretary of Education. Time and time again, the Michigan heiress showed just how little she knew about her job.
Parents across America would like to get their children back to school, but also do so in a safe way. In some areas, that has been difficult. The city of Boston recently shuttered public schools after an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases.
Walking down Main Street, couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, cannot be legally denied the right to hold hands, share a hug, or kiss–if Main Street is part of the public square, that is.
Polling indicates that Americans still give Donald Trump an edge over Joe Biden when it comes to their faith in either candidate to manage the economy.
While it’s true that, according to a late-August Reuters/Ipsos poll, Trump’s approval rating on the economy has dipped 14% since March, putting him in negative territory with 47% approving and 48% disapproving of his management of the economy, voters nonetheless see Trump as a better bet when it comes to serving their economic interests—despite the fact that the same poll revealed that 58% of respondents believed the economy was on the wrong track.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is isolating herself within her 22,000-square-foot Michigan estate even as she pushes to reopen schools nationwide amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education pushed back against the reports.
“That’s simply not true,” the spokesperson told Salon via email. “Secretary DeVos has held 9 roundtables, 4 briefings, 30 calls with governors, 62 calls with state superintendents, 28 interviews and 13 conference calls about this pandemic. She provided 7 major flexibilities, took 5 steps to protect students’ rights, and made $30B for schools available in 30 days.”
Speaker Pelosi said that Trump and Betsy DeVos are guilty of malfeasance and dereliction of duty for trying to unsafely force kids back to school.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos refused to answer a simple yes or no question and assure parents, teachers, and students that it is safe to go back to school.
Writing on Twitter earlier this morning, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of orchestrating a political ploy in advocating for schools to remain shuttered because of coronavirus risks.
“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” he wrote. “The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”
In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been sued by 19 attorneys general for overturning a rule that protected students from predatory higher education institutions. The rule dated back to the Obama administration and ensured that schools were denied federal funding if their students graduated with disproportionately heavy debt loads and weakened career prospects.
The attorneys general are from the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.
“Betsy DeVos’s unjustified and illegal repeal of the Gainful Employment rule is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to dismantle critical safeguards protecting students and taxpayers in order to further the interests of for-profit colleges,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
“We are standing up for students and calling out the Department of Education’s improper repeal of a rule that plays a vital role in ensuring students can make informed decisions about their education,” James continued “The Trump administration’s actions here are just another example of putting special interests ahead of student interests.”
Amidst the recent mass nationwide uprisings, dominated by the sentiments of the Black Lives Matter movement, an effective reincarnation of the Civil Rights Movement, the Trump administration has continued its efforts to deny transgender people civil rights, denying them equal protections under the law.
We’re all in this together.
Is anybody else tired of hearing this mantra?
I mean, in many ways I love it both as an aspirational sentiment, encapsulating the vision of a cooperative, humane, and compassionate social way of being, and as a statement that captures an undeniable, matter-of-fact aspect of our reality: we are absolutely dependent on one another. If we don’t grasp that fact now, when we are made hyperconscious of the “essential” workers performing all the functions that make food available to us, when will we?
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has fit right in with the Trump administration, treating her government position as opportunity to enrich herself and serve her own narrow ideological interests at taxpayer expense.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced strong opposition to providing any federal relief funding to assist state and local governments losing revenues hand-over-fist and facing mountains of unforeseen expenditures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump administration members Kellyanne Conway and Betsy DeVos may have been exposed to the coronavirus at CPAC.
We hear these days about the importance of the African American vote within the Democratic base, and rightly so. This base has played a key role in the Democratic primaries and, according to all indications, will play a key role in determining the Democratic presidential candidate.
Democratic candidates would also be wise as well as both humane and politically responsible, though, to pay attention to another population that, while historically endorsing Trump, has been nonetheless largely ignored by Trump, and is in dire need of attention and support. With some much needed attention from Democratic candidates, these voters could certainly make the difference necessary to defeat Trump in key states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
And it is also a vital matter of standing up for the equal rights of all and serving all constituencies, making particular efforts to serve the least visible among us in cultivating a democratic society and economy.
I’m talking about rural America, which isn’t, of course, exclusively white but which is nonetheless a white majority–and unquestionably, and more to the point, a forgotten one.
What is one of the latest key developments in terms of Trump turning his back on rural–and, really, working-class–America?
Trump’s Department of Education, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is up to its old tricks of cutting funding for public education and doing its best to make public education less rather than more accessible to Americans and making the nation’s public education system increasingly unequal.
And these cuts are targeted to hit rural America, a typical stronghold of Trump support, the hardest.
This time, through what Andrew Naughtie, reporting for The Independent, calls “an under-the-radar bookkeeping change at the Department of Education,” DeVos’s squad is setting up over 800 public schools across the nation’s primarily rural school districts to lose thousands of dollars per school in key funding. These cuts will cost these schools everything from reading specialists, to computers, to counselors, to language lessons for non-English speakers and more. Really, we are talking about the basics.
How can these under-resourced schools offer an education equal to what students receive elsewhere in America and prepare their students to compete in our economy and make their most meaningful contributions to American society?
And what’s more, as Erica L. Green reports in The New York Times, rural schools are already, according to advocates, “the most underfunded and ignored” in the country, even though they serve nearly one in seven public school students. These students, according to a report from the Rural School and Community Trust, “are largely invisible to state policymakers because they live in states where education policy is dominated by highly visible urban problems.”
What has happened exactly?
Well, public schools have previously been able to demonstrate they qualify for the Rural and Low-Income School Program by counting the number of students who qualify for federally subsidized free and reduced-price meals in order to determine poverty rates in the schools. The Department of Education, however, recently determined many of these schools that had been receiving funding had qualified erroneously, according to the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates. To qualify for funds, schools must demonstrate 20% of their area’s students live in poverty. Using this census data is less accurate than actually using the data of who actually is attending a school.
The push-back against this policy move has been decidedly and firmly bi-partisan. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine indicated that this change would mean 100 of the 149 schools in Maine previously receiving funding from this program would no longer qualify, costing its schools $1.2 million in funding. Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana underscored that 220 of its most remote schools would lose some $400,000 in funding.
The Trump administration is not making life better for our rural populations, despite the hopes of advocates that it would, given these regions’ electoral support for Trump.
Alan Richard, for example, a board member of the Rural School and Community Trust, a non-profit advocacy group, told The New York Times, “Rural education advocates definitely hoped that a president elected, in part, because of rural and small-town voters would pay more attention to rural children. Even after the last election, with all the attention to rural America, little has been done to correct the inequity so many rural students face.”
Trump can be called out for his broken campaign promises, his outright lies, and his complete lack of concern for people in need.
The real question is whether or not Democrats will listen to, pay attention to, and take up the concerns and cause of our rural populations.
Senator Amy Klobuchar spoke to and about rural America. At times, Senator Kamala Harris did as well. Both, of course, are no longer in the running to be the Democratic presidential candidate.
Other than that, we don’t hear too much from Democratic candidates regarding rural America.
And it also needs to be said that there is a tendency in Democratic politics to demonize and dismiss poor white and white working-class people in America as racist and backward, as not on board with the progressive politics of change.
Maybe listening, paying attention to, and creating actual policy to address the needs of these Americans—as opposed to dismissing them—would go a long way towards courting these voters.
It would certainly go a long way toward addressing the severe class stratifications in our society and working-class issues overall.
Will Democrats take advantage of this opportunity to serve the needs of those Trump has abandoned, address them, and cultivate their support? Is the Democratic tent big enough? Can Democrats be big enough?
In his State of the Union Address, Trump took a swipe at what he called “failing government schools.”
Most of us use the term “public school” or talk about “public education,” as we refer to institutions set up by, for, and of the people.
Trump, of course, is talking about public schools, but his choice to re-name them “government schools” is consequential. This phrase is not aimed at making public schools appear as institutions central to supporting the public good, to undergirding any hope for equality and freedom in this country, and to enabling the vast majority of Americans to access education. Rather, he makes these schools sound repressive and imprisoning, not enabling and liberating. (And I’m not suggesting there aren’t issues of gross inequality in our public school system.)
Certainly, the phrase “government take-over” is never used positively, as when opponents of, say, universal healthcare decry a “government take-over” of the healthcare system.
In short, substituting the adjective “government” for “public” can make any institution sound like a top-down, inefficient messy operation. Sadly, these are just the connotations the word has become saddled with over time, deserved or not.
And in many cases, it is not deserved. Remember when Tea Party activists used to wave signs demanding “Keep your goddamn government hands off my medicare”? People loved their government-run healthcare; they just didn’t know it because the right wing has trained so many Americans reflexively to hate government (even when the right wing controls it!) and automatically see it as the enemy and as inefficient.
Indeed, the world had been turned upside down for these Americans, as they protested against their own interests, railing against a government that administered the very program they wanted.
The same is true in the case of Trump referring to “failing government schools.” The phrasing is designed to get folks on board with defunding the public schools on which most Americans depend, promising them more “choice” and better schools.
But what’s really behind Trump’s words?
Let’s listen and then unpack. Here’s what he said Tuesday night:
“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” Trump said. “Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”
The solution is to pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, legislation proposed by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and endorsed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. This act would provide $5 billion worth of annual tax credits to encourage individuals and businesses to donate to nonprofit scholarship funds. Families could apply for these funds to send their children to private and religious schools or potentially other kinds of vocational training or certification.
But what’s really behind this proposal? Why not actually have not just “government run” schools but schools that are actually sufficiently—and why not lavishly?—“government funded”?
We can’t separate Trump’s call for an “inclusive society” and attack on public education from his call for what he calls “religious liberty,” which is intimately linked to Attorney General William Barr’s and DeVos’s agenda of dismantling the division between church and state, imposing a right-wing Christian worldview on public institutions (or eliminating them), and de-funding the public sector.
Compare what Trump said in last Tuesday’s address to what Barr said in a speech last October at Notre Dame’s law school.
“My administration is also defending religious liberty, and that includes the constitutional right to pray in public schools,” he said. “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the glory of God.”
The drama of the impeachment of the nation’s president, reports indicate, simply has not captured the interest or concern of the American audience. Apparently the melodrama of daytime soap operas attracts their attention more than the antics of a corrupt president and administration actively undermining the nation’s security for personal gain at the expense of the people’s interests.
Arguably, Trump’s corrupt behavior and incessant lying should concern the American people. He has misled the people about his support for healthcare policy that ensures coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, his refusal to cut medicare and social security, and hosts of other issues most Americans would tend to understand as “kitchen table” issues, those issues that directly impact their pocketbooks, livelihoods, and ability to take care of their families. It would seem that the corrupt behavior of a president everyday seeking to make American lives worse in the most basic ways would interest voters.
But there is no point arguing. I tried as much when I wrote a piece arguing in a similar vein, titled “Why the Mueller Report is the Kitchen Table Issue of all Kitchen Table Issues,” back when that report was released.
What IS worth highlighting in reporting, though, is the kind of corruption we see in the Trump administration in relation to issues that we actually know Americans care deeply about and which just doesn’t receive as much attention.
I’m talking about issues of public education and the ongoing corrupt behavior of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who continues to work against Americans’ abilities to attain affordable and quality public education. And she does so, like Trump, to line her own pockets.
The magnitude of the impeachment hearings and “trial,” dominating the attention of the American media, provided cover for DeVos’ own more mundane corruption.
Early last December,
DeVos proposed a plan
Back in 2004, Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? elevated the state as the textbook case of how the Republican party has been able to leverage a platform of conservative social values to sway the electorate to vote against its economic interests. Railing against abortion, affirmative action, big government, elitism, political correctness, and the like, Republicans surfed the wave of voters’ cultural outrage to election victories and then performed the bait-and-switch.
As Frank tells the story, these officials, instead of delivering on these platforms, engaged in unbridled deregulation and tax cuts, gutting the public sphere on which people depended, such as the educational system, and concentrating wealth in a fewer and fewer hands at the people’s expense.
In 2018, Kansas voters suddenly got “woke,” deciding they were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. They elected Democrats Laura Kelly as Governor and Sharice Davids to the House of Representatives.
They felt the reality of Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s Kansas, where it became apparent that, lo and behold, massive tax cuts did not pay for themselves, much less increase state revenues, but rather resulted in severe austerity conditions. For example, the school year was shortened due to revenue shortfalls attributable to his criminally huge corporate tax cuts, exposing that these Republican fiscal and tax policies were not benefiting the economic health of the state or creating a higher quality of life. Brownback’s cuts to education were so egregious that they were deemed unconstitutional by the state’s supreme court. Bobby Jindal wreaked similar havoc in Louisiana back in 2016, granting massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, leaving the state in economic chaos and facing massive cuts to education and basic social services. Republican Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner followed the same playbook, razing the state’s public sphere in the name of restoring economic health by lowering taxes and destroying unions.
As I wrote back then, voters paying attention should have seen what the GOP had in store for them should a Republican win the presidency in 2016. And Trump has indeed realized this vision, lavishing exorbitant tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and to corporations, resulting in the accelerating deterioration of the economy as well as gutting the public sphere. His budget cut proposals as well as the
policies of his Education Secretary Betsy Devos