Urge Markey and Warren to reject DeVos as U.S. education secretary

"What she and the Kochs have in common is the unbridled use of wealth power to achieve whatever political goals they have."

Northwestern professor Jeffrey Winters

President-elect Donald Trump has nominated billionaire school privatization advocate Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, a position in which she would oversee federal public education programs for schools and federal financial support for college students. A hearing before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on her confirmation will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Please contact our Massachusetts U.S. senators and urge them to oppose her confirmation.

Here is how this ideological twin of the Koch brothers was described in an article in The New York Times on Jan. 9: “She is the most emblematic kind of oligarchic figure you can put in a cabinet position,” said Jeffrey Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites. “What she and the Kochs have in common is the unbridled use of wealth power to achieve whatever political goals they have.”

Three ways to contact Senator Warren

  1. Online by going here.
  2. By phone through her Boston office: 617.565.3170
  3. By sending a letter to this address:

The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Warren has released her own 16-page letter  challenging DeVos’ qualifications for the job. Warren is on the HELP committee and will have a chance to ask her questions directly at the upcoming hearing.

Three ways to contact Senator Markey

  1. Online by going here.
  2. By phone through his Boston office: 617.565.8519
  3. By sending a letter to this address:

The Honorable Edward J. Markey
Dirksen Senate Office Building, 225
Washington, D.C. 20510

Markey co-signed a letter urging DeVos to pay a $5 million fine levied against her PAC.

 Speak Out Megaphone

   Points to mention

  • DeVos is an ardent supporter of “school choice” privatization schemes and has done nothing to promote and support locally accountable public schools.
    In Michigan, Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick DeVos, have pushed for decades for so-called “choice” schemes and corporate-run charter schools, most of which have performed worse than the state average. Such programs have decimated many public schools, in particular schools serving low-income children of color. DeVos is a longtime Republican Party donor who has publicly said there is an expectation of a “return on our investment” in the form of political favors. She has served on the boards of two major groups leading the charge to privatize public schools.
  • DeVos has invested millions lobbying to promote laws that drain resources from public schools.
    In 2000, Michigan voters rejected a massive effort led by Betsy and Dick DeVos to change the state’s constitution to allow private school voucher schemes that would siphon money away from public schools. But Betsy DeVos has promoted these measures as chair of the American Federation for Children, and the DeVos family has spent millions to push for the expansion of vouchers in other states. This is contrary to our values in Massachusetts, where the separation of church and state is enshrined in the Constitution and where the voters have resoundingly defeated initiative petitions seeking to amend the Constitution to allow public aid to private and parochial schools.
  • DeVos has fought against the regulation of charter schools.
    The DeVos family gave heavily to GOP lawmakers in the Michigan legislature who gutted a bill that included accountability measures for charter schools in Detroit. Those charters will not be subject to the same oversight or regulation as public schools even though they are funded with taxpayer money, thanks largely to the DeVos family.
  • DeVos is not a good fit for a position overseeing the civil rights of all students.
    Donald Trump’s nomination of DeVos is deeply concerning to many civil rights groups because school choice schemes promote racial segregation and undercut the kind of civil rights enforcement that is routine in public schools. Corporate charter schools have higher than average teacher turnover and closure rates, which disproportionately affect students of color and low-income families.
  • The DeVos family’s support for anti-LGBT causes is well documented.
    Since 1998, the DeVos family has given more than $6.7 million to Focus on the Family, a group that supports “conversion therapy” — a debunked theory that purports to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals and that is strongly opposed by the American Psychiatric Association, the Human Rights Campaign and scores of other medical and civil rights organizations.
  • DeVos has no training or experience in education.
    DeVos has never worked in a school in any capacity and does not hold a degree in education.

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