American Federation of Teachers, Department of Education, education, Ethics, Free public education, literacy, privatization, privatization of education, public education, school, school funding, separation of church and state
“Worried This Billionaire Will Destroy Public Education, Teachers Have Some #Questions4Betsy, Published on Monday, January 16, 2017
The American Federation of Teachers wants the senate to ask billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos, a ‘determined foe of public education’: What qualifications do you have for the job? by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Defenders of public education have a few questions they want to ask Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial pick to lead the Department of Education, when she appears at her senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
With a new campaign targeting members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as well as its members and supporters, are sharing questions they’d like to see answered by the billionaire Amway heiress and notorious critic of public schools.
“DeVos has no relevant experience in public education, but as a billionaire with an agenda she’s promoted disastrous ideology and pushed destructive policies across her home state of Michigan—working to undermine, defund and privatize public schools, expand for-profit charters without accountability, and push unconstitutional private school vouchers,” Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, wrote in an email to supporters on Monday.
“We need a secretary of education who would strengthen and improve public schools, not one who is out to destroy them,” Weingarten added. “We need our questions answered before she gets anywhere near our children’s futures.”
The million member-strong trade union offered up some of its own #Questions4Betsy, inspiring others to do the same.
“Ninety percent of kids attend public school, an area you have no experience in,” AFT observed. “What qualifications do you have for the job?”
Other questions followed:
#Questions4Betsy What steps are you taking to make sure your investments won’t pose a conflict of interest for you at the Department of Ed?
#Questions4Betsy The policies that you helped enact have led to atrocious conditions in Detroit. What do you tell those parents and kids?
#Questions4Betsy What do you believe your role and the role of the department of ed is to ensure the free exchange of ideas on campus?
#Questions4Betsy Will you push expansion of unregulated, for-profit charters on the nat’l level as you did in MI, despite dismal results?
#Questions4Betsy Do you plan to pursue a #voucher program at the national level despite the fact that voters have rejected such initiatives?
#Questions4Betsy Can you share examples from your work where you held charter schools to “high standards and strong accountability”?
#Questions4Betsy how would you support schools’ efforts to attract educators and retain them to become a committed part of a school?
#Questions4Betsy: How will you enforce Title IX to ensure women have equal access and to support survivors of campus sexual assault?
And pointing to the DeVos’s record as “a hardened anti-LGBTQ crusader,” as Huffington Post’s Queer Voices editor Michelangelo Signorile put it, AFT also wants to know: “As secretary of education, what is the Department’s role in protecting #LGBT students?”
Taking up AFT’s call, public school advocates promptly took to Twitter to share some of the union’s questions and pose some of their own:
Elizabeth Boyle @ElizBoyle
How will you ensure that special needs students are protected if public school funds are diverted to charter schools? #Questions4Betsy
6:37 PM – 16 Jan 2017
Paul Rizzo @PaulRizzo504
As someone who hates public schools why are you taking over a position that promotes them? #Questions4Betsy
6:05 PM – 16 Jan 2017
#questions4Betsy Do you continue to own any investments in for-profit education companies?
6:12 PM – 16 Jan 2017
Jason Garshfield @JasonGarshfield
#Questions4Betsy Will you commit to revoking federal funding for universities that repeatedly violate students’ Constitutional rights?
8:26 PM – 16 Jan 2017
Up4 Yes @Up4Yes
As some #charterschools hv shut down w/o notice given ur anti #publicschool stance how wl u guarantee #publiceducation4all? #Questions4Betsy
9:05 PM – 16 Jan 2017
Have you ever attended a public school board meeting? #Questions4Betsy
8:53 PM – 16 Jan 2017
#Questions4Betsy Is it ‘fair’ that 44 million Americans who want to better themselves/communities have to take on student debt to do so?
8:50 PM – 16 Jan 2017
Last week the HELP committee was forced to delay DeVos’ hearing, initially scheduled for Jan. 11, due to concerns over her “extensive financial entanglements and potential conflicts of interest,” as Politico reported at the time.
What’s more, a separate Politico investigation published Monday highlighted how the DeVos family used its massive wealth to advance a staunch Christian conservative agenda in Michigan and beyond.
Responding to the Politico reporting, Diane Ravitch wrote on her blog Monday, “if Betsy DeVos is confirmed, which is likely, we will have a major battle on our hands to protect public education and to maintain a separation of church and state.”
“She is not a normal candidate for secretary of education,” warned the public education advocate and former assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush. “She is a religious zealot and a radical extremist. She will speak of her admiration for all successful schools, including public schools, but don’t believe it. She is a determined foe of public education.”This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/01/16/worried-billionaire-will-destroy-public-education-teachers-have-some-questions4betsy (Emphasis our own; embedded links and original tweets at original)
Interactive map with spending per district: http://www.npr.org/2016/04/18/474256366/why-americas-schools-have-a-money-problem
“The right to education is a universal entitlement to education. This is recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as a human right that includes the right to free, compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, in particular by the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education, ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education. Today, almost 70 million children across the world are prevented from going to school each day.
The right to education also includes a responsibility to provide basic education for individuals who have not completed primary education. In addition to these access to education provisions, the right to education encompasses the obligation to rule out discrimination at all levels of the educational system, to set minimum standards and to improve the quality of education.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_education