Wednesday, February 22, 2017

One Teachers Union Is Talking to Betsy DeVos. The Other One Isn’t. Which Is Right? | New Republic

One Teachers Union Is Talking to Betsy DeVos. The Other One Isn’t. Which Is Right? | New Republic:
One Teachers Union Is Talking to Betsy DeVos. The Other One Isn’t. Which Is Right?
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Big Education Ape: Betsy DeVos called me. I sent her this letter - Lily's Blackboard -

Big Education Ape: DeVos to tour schools with teachers union head | TheHill -

President Donald Trump and his advisers probably didn’t expect his choice for education secretary to cause much of a fuss. After all, Rick Perry was tapped to run the Department of Energy, which he once said he wanted to eliminate. Senator Jeff Sessions, who has spent his career attacking voting rights, was up for attorney general. Scott Pruitt, nominated to run the EPA, has sued the agency at least 14 times. Even Ben Carson was offered a job.
And yet, Betsy DeVos turned out to be Trump’s most controversial cabinet pick. It came as a surprise to many in Washington, but it didn’t come out of the blue.
Teachers unions, which have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party over the years, led the fightagainst DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor and education philanthropist. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers released a joint letter decrying the “two decades she has spent attempting to dismantle the American public school system.”
“[DeVos] and her family have spent millions to promote failed private school vouchers and unaccountable for-profit charter schools while working to destabilize and defund public education,” the unions wrote. “This is a dangerous direction that will do nothing to help our most vulnerable students and will exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps.”

DeVos bolstered the case against her with a disastrous performance at her confirmation hearing. She was confused about basic education policy debates. She showed little familiarity with federal education law, and in some cases wouldn’t commit to enforcing it. In one viral moment, she even said schools might need guns to guard against “potential grizzlies.”
Ahead of DeVos’s confirmation vote, union leaders hammered her on cable news, and the NEA organized a million people to email senators in opposition to her nomination. At least 40,000 called the Capitol through a special switchboard the union set up.
DeVos was nonetheless confirmed by the Senate earlier this month, thanks to a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Since then, she has only stumbledfurther, most egregiously after her visit two weeks ago to Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington, D.C. Though she called the school “awesome” at the end of her tour, she later told the conservative publication Townhall that the teachers there were in “receive mode.” “They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” she said. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
Jefferson Academy promptly took her to school on Twitter.

Kaya Henderson, the former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, also jumped to the school’s defense.

Few public school teachers, it seems, are willing to give DeVos the benefit of the doubt. That’s certainly true of Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association, the largest union of any kind in America (3.2 million members). “She will get no grace, and she deserves no grace,” Eskelsen García told me on the eve of DeVos’s confirmation vote.
But Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (1.6 One Teachers Union Is Talking to Betsy DeVos. The Other One Isn’t. Which Is Right? | New Republic:

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