Senate moves toward confirmation of billionaire opponent of public schools
By Isabelle Belanger
25 January 2017
the $2.25 million the DeVos’ gave last fall to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
from her confirmation.
Performant, which does business with the Department of Education. The family’s private investment and management firm, RDV Corporation, is affiliated with LMF WF Portfolio, a limited liability corporation listed in regulatory filings as
million—equivalent to 23 percent of its revenue—with the Department of Education. It recently lost a contract bid and is now protesting the decision with the Government Accountability Office.
would also have the authority to revise payments
and fees to contractors for rehabilitating past-due
Alexander said DeVos was currently answering “837 written follow-up questions”
and that she has already “spent considerably more time answering questions of
committee members than either of President Obama’s education secretaries. I do
not know why our committee should treat a Republican nominee so differently
than the nominee of a Democratic president.”
her hostility towards public education and the basic democratic principle that
all children, regardless of socio-economic background, race or disabilities,
should be provided a high-quality public education.
schools—public, charter or private—that receive federal funding should be
required to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),
a federal civil rights law, she responded that it would be a “matter … best
left to the states.” She then referred to a Florida program that requires
parents to sign away their IDEA rights in exchange for a private school
schools receiving federal funds, whether public, charter or private schools
receiving voucher money, should be held to the same standards of
accountability, she repeatedly evaded the question, stating only that she
schools, proposed after the Sandy Hook, Connecticut school massacre in 2012,
DeVos gave a bizarre answer citing the need for guns to protect against grizzly
bear attacks in a Wyoming school.
Religion and profit in the war on public education” (Part One and Part Two),
the appointment of DeVos is aimed at destroying public education and funneling
even more public money into the hands of for-profit charter operators,
religious institutions and other businesses. She is one of several Trump
cabinet and sub-cabinet selections, including for the departments of Health and
Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor, as well as the EPA,
who are tasked with destroying social reforms that the corporate and financial
oligarchy considers illegitimate deductions from their profit.
Michigan and chair of the school privatization group American Federation for
Children, pushed for laws for the use of public funds to pay for private school
tuition and the spread of charter schools, with little or no oversight.
Michigan now has one of the highest number of charters and largest percentage
run by for-profit companies in the country.
announced that 38 schools—including 24 in Detroit—could soon be closed because
they have ranked in the bottom five percent for academic performance since
2014. If the schools are not closed, under the state’s law, academics can be
put under the control of a CEO, the principal and half the staff can be
replaced or the school could be converted into a charter school.
defenders of public education, however, is completely fraudulent. The stage was
set for DeVos by the Democrats who have colluded with the Republicans in a decades-long
assault on public education. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton first adopted
the right-wing, pro-market nostrums of “school choice” long promoted by the
Republican right and it has been central to the Democratic Party, on the
federal, state and local level, ever since.
congressional Democrats worked with Republicans to implement and intensify the
anti-public-school measures contained in the Bush administration’s No Child
Left Behind Act of 2001. The use of standardized tests to scapegoat teachers
for the educational problems caused by decades of school cuts and the growth of
poverty escalated under Obama. Restrictions on allocations of Title I funding,
intended to increase financial support to schools serving high percentages of
students in poverty, were replaced by competitive grants known as Race To The
Top, pitting poor schools against each other in a competition for desperately
needed Title I funds. The number of students in charter schools more than
doubled under Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan.
Democrats never asked about her financial and political ties to organizations
such as the Acton Institute, which is dedicated to ending compulsory education
for children and legalizing child labor. In the end, this was political
(D-Washington), who has long experience collaborating with Republicans to enact
deep social cuts, Hillary Clinton’s former running mate Tim Kaine (D-Virginia),
who called for a 26 percent reduction in funding to public colleges and
universities in Virginia in his final term as Governor, and Elizabeth Warren
(D-Massachusetts) who, in her book, The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents
Are Going Broke, (2003), called for the introduction of a universal
school voucher that would allow families to send their children to any public
school, which would to the closure of many inner-city schools.
position to a billionaire and avowed enemy of public education will lead to an
immense escalation of the war against this most basic democratic right. Neither
the Democrats nor the teacher unions will do anything to oppose these attacks.
The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association,
which openly collaborated with Obama, will, if anything, be more willing to
offer up their services in suppressing the opposition by teachers, out of fear
that they will be cut out of the process of pro-business “school reform.”
eruption of social opposition to the destruction of public education. This must
be politically independent from both corporate-controlled parties and advance
an anti-capitalist program against the domination of society by the corporate
and financial aristocracy, which is now putting one of its own in charge of
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24 January 2017