Teachers speak out on the schools crisis and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
New US Education Secretary billionaire Betsy DeVos has lost no time in making known her ideological opposition to public education, contempt for educators and hostility to democratic rights.
Her installation has evoked strong opposition to teachers, who rightly see DeVos as the spearhead of a ramped up attack at all levels on public education.
Following her narrow Cabinet confirmation, DeVos’ first appearance was a brief visit to a public school, Washington DC’s Jefferson Middle School Academy, on February 10. Her arrival was greeted with protests by parents and teachers, temporarily preventing her from entering into the school.
Speaking to the press after the visit, DeVos insulted the teachers, haughtily characterized them as in “receive mode … waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child.” She has routinely referred to public schools as a “dead end.”
In a subsequent interview with the right-wing news site Townhall, DeVos alleged the protests were “not genuine”. “We’ve seen enough written that they want to make my life a living hell”, she added. Also denouncing the protesters was American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who tweeted, “Just heard a protester blocked & almost knocked Secy @BetsyDeVos down at Jefferson. We don’t condone such acts. We want her to go to pub schls.”
DeVos has now made the highly unusual and expensive demand that she be accompanied by US federal marshals for the foreseeable future. No Cabinet-level secretary has requested a similar level of protection since at least 2009.
The secretary is not just fearful of protesting teachers, she also issued a not-so-veiled threat that any Education Department employees who try to “subvert the mission” (her pro-privatization agenda) would be attended to “swiftly and surely”, according to Townhall.
For his part, President Trump reiterated his support for privatization at a White House “listening session” with a handpicked group of parents on February 14. Trump, with DeVos at his side, described charter schools “fantastic”, “amazing” and “unbelievable.” He has pledged $20 billion in federal aid for school vouchers through block grants to the states or a federally funded scholarship tax credit program written into the tax code.
In an interview with Axios published February 17, DeVos stated that she would “be fine” with the abolition of the Department of Education and Teachers speak out on the schools crisis and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos - World Socialist Web Site: