Less than an hour from now the United States Senate will meet to vote on the nomination of billionaire educational enthusiast Betsy DeVos to be this nation's eleventh Secretary of Education. As it now stands, DeVos, the sister of Blackwater founder and self-styled mercenary, Erik Prince, is likely to be confirmed on a fifty-fifty vote in the Senate with Mike Pence casting the tie-breaker. And if DeVos wins, America's children will lose -bigly!
Betsy DeVos grew up rich and married richer - and while lolling about in a life of privilege, she never had to spend a single day as a student in a public school. She was educated well away from the stench of the masses in refined, private settings. As a result of her breathing so much rarefied air, Betsy somehow came to the conclusion that all children would do better being educated in private settings - or at least straight , white ones without special needs - and the best way to pay for that would be through siphoning tax money away from public schools through schemes like vouchers and into private types of schools favored by DeVos and her rich friends. Unfortunately, those tin-foil hat solutions, no matter how well intended, will still be beyond the financial grasp of many students in the United States. Much of their share of the education dollars will go to their betters, as God and Betsy DeVos intended. Also, those educational machinations, at least the ones implemented by Betsy DeVos in her home state of Michigan, have a history of not working well.
Betsy DeVos supports private, religious, and charter schools over traditional schools, and she fights efforts to make her darlings accountable to those nasty old state legislators who want to know if the public's money is being used effectively. On those occasions when it has been possible to make comparisons between the experimental schools of DeVos and their public counterparts, the public schools have always performed as well or better than the more expensive and exclusive ones favored by Betsy DeVos.
DeVos does not understand special education and is not supportive of many measures aimed at improving educational outcomes for students with special needs.
Betsy does support an increased presence of God in schools, and she favors teachers and administrators being allowed to carry guns to school.
Donald Trump has made some truly awful choices to serve in his cabinet, and some, like Attorney General-designee Jeff Sessions, would turn America back toward some of those dark places we thought we had crawled out of for good. But none of Trump's choices, not even Sessions, has the potential to do damage as extreme and long-lasting as that which Betsy DeVos is itching and poised to bring about. If she succeeds in making education a privilege for those already blessed with privilege, she will have undermined the sturdiest tenet of democracy.
Of course, that has probably been the game plan all along.
DeVos admitted before a Senate hearing that she and her family have possibly donated as much as $200 million to political candidates. Secretary of Education is a job that Betsy DeVos has already bought and paid for - and she expects it to be handed to her today - gift-wrapped!
The Senate needs to stand up to his outrage against our children. My own Republican senator, Roy Blunt of Missouri, has, along with his political family, received tens of thousands of dollars from DeVos and her family.
But Roy, so did Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and she grew a spine anyway and announced that she would be voting against Big Donor DeVos. Betsy DeVos will negatively impact education for children in Missouri communities like Bolivar, Springfield, Galena, Ozark, West Plains, Branson - and even your home town of Niangua.
The destruction of America's schools is not a legacy that any politician should seek - and voters will be reminded of which senators voted to bring about this disaster. Roy Blunt, stand up for Missouri's school children and vote a big, loud "No" on Betsy DeVos! As one teacher to another, we both know it's the right thing to do!