How I Finally Faced Up To The Hate Unleashed By Trump And Betsy DeVos
It’s been hard for me to face the whole story explaining why my fellow Oklahomans have embraced Trumpism in general and, too often, his Secretary of Education appointee Betsy DeVos in particular. Even though my conservative state has an extreme record of corruption, we also had an ethic where a politician’s handshake had to be good; an individual’s word had to be true. We believed, “my opponent is my opponent, not my enemy.” In the contact sport of politics, elbows would be thrown, but you don’t take out your opponent’s knee.
Growing up in Oklahoma, I also learned something that I’m less proud of. Although I’ve committed my life to working within the system to make things better for the poorest children of color in Oklahoma City, there is another aspect of my upbringing. If a school reformer looked me in the eye and said what many do in their writing ― that I’m a racist because I try to work inside the education status quo ― I’d likely ask him to step outside.
Or I would have acted according to our code before Trump was elected. Now the stakes are too high to let personal emotion reign.
Even though I had registered in advance, there had been a minor protest against the summit’s agenda, and it took some Old School schmoozing to talk my way into the auditorium to see Dr. Steve Perry’s keynote address. Perry is the author of “Push Has Come to Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve – Even If It Means Picking a Fight.” I sat down next to an old friend who supports charter and voucher expansion and we shook hands. I then listened, horrified, as Perry shouted insults, non-stop, during his entire presentation. Of course, I’ve seen videos of demagogues firing people up. As a kid too young to understand, I’d witnessed John Birch Society and George Wallace rallies. But, as an adult, I’d never seen anything as frightening as the way Perry worked the crowd.
To be honest, I’d come to listen to fellow audience members more than to a former charter school principal turned showman. I doubted that many in the crowd knew that Perry, the founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, is remembered for calling teachers unions “roaches,” for 49 tweets calling education historian Diane Ravitch a racist, and for controversial financial arrangements. Worse, his school would sentence “even the youngest students in the building, to sit at the cafeteria’s How I Finally Faced Up To The Hate Unleashed By Trump And Betsy DeVos | The Huffington Post: