DeVos was confirmed. What comes now?

February 8, 2017

Yesterday, the US Senate approved Betsy DeVos to be the US Secretary of Education as we had feared, with Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Though disappointing it was in its way historic: the only time in US history that a Cabinet secretary has needed the vote of the Vice President to be approved.

The last few weeks have been historic in another way: Never before have so many parents, teachers and concerned citizens been so united, outraged and activated over an education issue. Never have so many called, rallied, protested, faxed and written letters to their Senators, in an “avalanche” that nearly flattened Capitol Hill, overwhelming and shocking Senators of both parties.

We will need to sustain the activism and involvement shown in this battle and keep speaking out loudly and firmly to let education policymakers at the federal, state and local levels know that we will not stand idly by while our public schools are defunded, dismantled and privatized.

Though it was widely noted that Betsy DeVos is eager to expand the number of for-profit charters and vouchers, what was less reported is her devotion to online learning and questionable ed tech solutions. These will just as surely divert resources from the proven strategies that provide students with the support and human feedback they need. More on what DeVos has said about online learning on my blog.

Indeed, the one company she refused to divest from is called Neurocore, that runs “brain performance centers” to treat autism and attention deficit disorder with no evidence of efficacy. Before she was even confirmed, the Software industry trade association posted a letter congratulating her, and urging her to open the floodgate of public dollars even more for experimental ed tech programs. After the vote, the stock for the online charter company K12 Inc. rallied.

Surely, we will need all your activism in the battles to come – whether it be against the expansion of charters, the use of tuition tax credits or vouchers, or wasteful for-profit ed tech scams — all of which divert precious resources from our public schools and their ability to offer smaller classes. Thank your Senators if they voted no on DeVos; if they voted yes, let them know how you feel. Here is a handy list of their votes and contact info.

Now that we’ve woken up our elected officials to the fact that parents and teachers and citizensfiercely love their public schools, and will do nearly anything to preserve, protect and support them, we must continue to speak out. As Patty Murray tweeted yesterday afternoon,

To the parents, teachers, and students who made their voices heard: We hear you and the fight isn’t over. #DeVos

And consider making a contribution to Class Size Matters, because we will be there, fighting alongside you.

Thanks for your support as always,


PS Check out what personal data NY State collects for immigrant students, and the weak assurances of the NYC chancellor that this data will be protected.   Ask your district and state what data on immigrant students they collect and share. Consider advocating that there be a Stakeholder student data advisory board in your state, as we are doing here in NY, with parents and privacy experts as members, so that the public will have real input into critical privacy decisions in the future.

Categories Uncategorized | Tags: | Posted on February 21, 2017

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