Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has her critics, but none so fierce as the American Federation of Teachers union boss, Randi Weingarten. While DeVos was spending time this week speaking before billionaires and corporations at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to plan the demise of public education, Weingarten was busy defending America’s public schools, students and teachers.
USA Today reported that Weingarten didn’t shy away from addressing the current administration’s none too subtle desire to turn the education system over to corporate special interests like the Kochs, Waltons and the DeVos. She compared DeVos to a “climate change denier,” and argued that “school choice is a secretive way to ‘starve funding from public schools.’”
Just when the crowd got going, Weingarten threw down the gauntlet by referring to DeVos’ plan to institute private school vouchers that are paid by taxpayer funds and tax credits for tuition as “only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.” As for the founders of school choice, Weingarten stated that they were the “white politicians who resisted school integration.”
And she’s right.
The original concept of school choice was advocated by those whites who opposed mandated desegregation of schools in the south. Once Brown v. Board of Education became the law of the land, many white southerners established segregation academies, or private schools for their white children. Many of those private segregation academies later became the Christian academies we see today. Academies that DeVos actively supports and is trying to get taxpayer funds to pay for.
The CEO of The Center of Education Reform (CER), Jeanne Allen has demanded Weingarten submit her resignation as if the CER has the right to demand such a thing. Presumably, Allen intends to teach children that speaking one’s mind is not to be tolerated in America. Not surprisingly, the CER is a school choice advocate that stands to gain influence, power and money from the DeVos destruction plans for the education system.
In fact, CER is a member of the State Policy Network which works with ALEC to come up with corporate, billionaire friendly legislation. CER is also a member of ALEC and was a presenter at its conference in 2016. Donors to the group include the Koch’s Donors Trust (which DeVos contributes to) and the Bradley Foundation as well as many other billionaire, right-wing education anarchists whose sole aim is to destroy the public education system and teachers’ unions in order to divert taxpayer money to corporate pockets.
If anyone should resign, it is Betsy DeVos who knows little to nothing about education.