Tuesday, February 7, 2017

She's Your Education Secretary. Now What?

Reposting a message from my Facebook page. Now the work begins.

I'm seeing so many friends expressing surprise/shock that the Senate has confirmed Betsy DeVos as the most unqualified education secretary of all time. I'm not shocked, and I want to tell you why.
"We" - American voters - elected a president who surrounds himself with loyal billionaires. And we've collectively elected a Republican-majority House and Senate, and we're living with the consequences. The Republicans have all the leverage, and (sorry) hearing from constituents isn't as powerful as pressure from the White House and their party's leadership. Money and power > public opinion.
Why would Republican senators who understand and support public education support this nominee? Many reasons:
  1. It's in their own personal interest. Breaking with the party could harm their careers, and going with the majority can be good for them. (Kudos to Senators Collins and Murkowski, but it will be interesting to see how they pay for this vote. And those Republican senators who were supposedly undecided? They were playing a game, just holding out for an incentive to keep them in line. If they went by what they heard from their constituents, they would have voted differently.)
  2. Many Republicans like Senators McCain and Graham have signaled their willingness to challenge President Trump on some big issues. But they have to pick their battles, and the truth is that public education isn't as important to them as Russian interference with our elections and other international issues.
  3. Even more sadly, education just isn't a top issue with everything else going on. During the campaign, it was barely mentioned by any candidate. Clearly, there are few Republicans are willing to fall on their sword over public education.

So now what? Parents, teachers, and others need to pressure our now-Secretary of Education to do the right thing for ALL students. Many of my friends are personally affected by special education. Keep up the pressure, and intensify it. Get over Secretary DeVos's incompetent performance in her confirmation hearings. Get over the fact that she got this job because of her wealth and political donations. Let her know she and her appointees will hear from you on every decision that affects you and your children.
More important, remember how you're feeling today and apply that passion to the mid-term elections. Hold your elected officials accountable, and work to kick them out of office if you think that's what's needed. To make real change, and to prevent further damage, we need checks and balances, and a Democratic majority is in our grasp.
This was a losing effort, but be encouraged by the passion and unity it inspired. Don't give up.
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