by Linda Beale
Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education in a Senate vote that had every Democratic Senator voting against her, along with two brave Republican Senators (Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; and Susan Collins, Maine). Thanks to those no-voters who showed integrity. Regrettably, the vote created a tie, broken in DeVos’s favor by Trump’s Veep, Mike Pence. Note that the result is that Senators representing by far the vast majority of the American people voted AGAINST DeVos.
As a Michigander, I can tell you firsthand that this is a disastrous choice for the head of the most important Education agency in the country. Betsy DeVos is just another one of Trump’s billionaire crony capitalists who are using service in the government–which is supposed to be about service on behalf of We the People–as a way to funnel more money to their fellow crony capitalists through elimination of protective regulations, open exploitation of federal lands, and willful ignorance about the harm that their crony capitalist policies have done and will do to the economy.
ASIDE: Check out, for example, Melania Trump’s new lawsuit claiming $150 million in damages from The Daily Mail because it’s article on the company she modeled nude for suggesting that the company was an ‘escort service’ cost her the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to get rich off of her “multi-term” exposure to being the most photographed woman in the world–i.e., (not explicitly stated but clearly implied) her status as First Lady.
Betsy DeVos is an heiress with billions who married into another crony capitalist family with billions. The DeVos family has used its wealth to curry favor and influence in state and federal government. IN particular, Betsy DeVos has been busy using her wealth to remake public education in Michigan in line with her own particular religious and crony-capitalist views on Michigan’s education. She supports junk science including “intelligent design“, the pseudo-science replacement term for religious “creationism”, in an attempt to undo scientific support for evolution. She has pushed charter schools on Detroit–blaming any education shortcomings on dedicated teachers and disadvantaged students in public schools that have been deprived of hundreds of millions of state dollars owed them while turning a blind eye to the abject failures of for-profit charter schools in which ‘management companies’ rip off taxpayer dollars to overpay executives without having to comply with any of the accountability measures that are pressed on public schools that are underfunded.
Betsy DeVos knows nothing about public education, knows very little about the privatized charter schools she pushes, knows nothing about education law, and knows nothing about improving education in inner cities or poor rural areas. What she does know is that she supports any way possible to take taxpayer money and give it to religious and other private schools to use without accountability to the public.
I predict that the result of her term as Secretary of Education will bring further devastation of public schools, more funneling of taxpayer money to line the pockets of private school managers and even less requirements of assessment and accountability from those very managers, a dearth of fact-based evidence for anything in education, more and more rip-offs of ordinary Americans by for-profit purported schools like the fraudulent so-called “university” that was “Trump University“–i.e., a precipitous slide in American education caused by the crony capitalist privatization impulse and real harm to the children and grandchildren of that minority of the American population that voted Trump and his ilk into office.
The result is that tax dollars that public education so desperately needs will be sent instead to the pockets of the already rich. Public education will continue to struggle to innovate and expand programs that can reach underprivileged children who don’t have enough food, shelter or home stability to learn well. MOre and more children will be subject to religious indoctrination rather than education, and be less prepared to deal with the global world we all live in and to take the kinds of jobs–like renewable energy, and engineering and medical research–that provide the basis for a broad-based, stable, productive economy that makes life better for all of us.
Trump voters, beware. You thought Trump’s promise to ‘restore energy jobs’ was one devoted to helping you. Look, there are already more jobs in electric power generation from renewable energy in this country than in coal. See, e.g., US solar power employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined, report shows (Independent.co.UK, Jan 23, 1017); There are now twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs in the US (Vox Feb. 2, 2017). The way to ‘restore jobs’ (whether energy or otherwise) isn’t to try to drive the country back to the 1950s when white men were almost the only workers at any decent paying jobs and the multinational corporations had not yet taken over U.S. businesses and moved much manufacturing to other countries. The way to create jobs in the United States is to embrace the creativity and ingenuity of the American people, build an environmentally better world with clean water, clean air, clean food, regulating the companies to protect the people, and teach our children facts rather than “alternative facts” about the world we live in. Climate change denialism, continuation of the hundred-year-old giveaways to oil and gas and coal industry polluters while squelching assistance to the new renewable energy industries; privatizing education and health care (including moving Medicare to the States in a way that would allow them to make serious cutbacks in health care for those on Medicare)–these things that the Republicans stand for will ultimately leave America the Great more of a third-world country and seriously hurt that group of rural and suburban ordinary Americans that voted for Trump more than anyone else.
Betsy DeVos is the most obvious example of a Trump crony money-bags who has no business in government, but there are plenty of others that Trump has put forward, such as the EPA director nominee (a person who has filed numerous lawsuits intent on destroying the EPA and doesn’t want the government to act to protect Americans from rich polluters), the Labor Secretary nominee (a person whose company has frequently violated worker protection laws and who wants businesses able to make profits by exploiting (and harming) their workers), and the Attorney General nominee (Jeff Sessions, a person who in his career made a point of trying to squelch black vote organization drives).
The Trump administration is engaged in class warfare in its most heinous form–using the agencies of the federal government that are designed to protect ordinary American people to roll back those protections and give away federal resources to crony capitalists. And the Republican party leaders, after their obstructionism of health care and environmental protection for working class folk during the last 8 years, are now rolling over backward in spineless obedience to the Trump machine steamrolling over ordinary Americans’ needs.