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AFT President Blasts Betsy DeVos' Record Of Public Education Destruction

During a panel with Joy Ann Reid Friday, AFT President Randi Weingarten laid out the stakes with the Betsy DeVos nomination.

It's difficult to rank Trump's cabinet picks in order of worst to least worst, but there are at least two of them who are absolutely and totally unfit to serve as cabinet secretaries. The first is Jeff Sessions, who imagines civil rights as a series of right turns intended to oppress minorities, and the second is Betsy DeVos, whose only qualifications for that cabinet position is a desire to destroy the department she wishes to preside over -- Department of Education.

When Joy Reid asked her to share her thoughts about DeVos in that position, Weingarten did not hold back.

"We know a lot about her record in Michigan and her record in Michigan is -- makes it clear that she is the most anti-public education nominee since the position of Secretary of Education was established."

This is absolutely true. DeVos has spent at least 20 years funding organizations which intend to destroy public education in favor of vouchers and church schools.

Weingarten continued, "We know whether people were Trump voters or Hillary voters, they want a Secretary of Education that actually strengthens and improves public education where 90% of the children of our country go, of schools that are the anchor of democracy, the propeller of our economy!"

"Instead, what she has done in Michigan for the last 20 years is to destabilize, defund, and siphon off funds."

This is also true. And it's taken a toll in Michigan. A heavy toll, as Weingarten explained.

"Even for our colleagues and our friends who actually believe that there should be some alternatives, what she has done is actually made schooling worse in Michigan...What has happened is that 75% of public schools do better than charters, these for-profit wild, wild west charters in Michigan."

As for DeVos' precious charter school ideas, she slapped the door shut on those too. "And in Detroit we see that 80% of the schools, the charter schools in Detroit, are failing."

"We need a secretary of education who's going to lift up public education, who's going to help all kids succeed, not one who has a hostility to civil rights, as my colleague Wade has just said about Senator Sessions, or someone who has an antipathy towards anything that is public, in terms of public education."

"You can't be about profit, you have to be about children and we have seen no evidence that she is about children in public education," she concluded.

On Wednesday, Republicans are inundating us. They are holding confirmation hearings which include the ones for Sessions and DeVos along with four other nominees. They are also holding a Senate budget vote-a-rama which will include the provisions they hope to shape into the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And finally, Trump has said he will hold a press conference that day.

The idea behind that strategy is to inundate Senate Democrats so they can't be in four places at once, and also inflict a sort of denial-of-service attack on the press, who will be scrambling to cover all of these stories.

In the process, they're hoping we won't notice that Donald Trump has nominated some of the most radical, hard-right billionaires and ideologues in the country for cabinet positions with the sole goal of not just drowning government in a bathtub, but dissolving it and sending it down the drain in a sea of dysfunction.

Here at C&L, we'll be trying to follow all of it and posting as quickly as we're able on the key hearings and other news of the day. We're inclined to ignore Trump's press conference, given that it's really just blowing smoke over the more destructive acts taking place in the halls of Congress.

Call your Senators and object to the confirmation of Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions. As a start.

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