DeVos, Rahm and Moskowitz.

DeVos

Tomorrow is a busy day for the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

She starts the day with the school-closer-in-chief, Mayor Rahm.

She ends the day with the Queen of Charters, Eva Moskowitz.

Details are not available to the public. The meetings are closed to the press. The exact locations of the meetings are unknown.

Perhaps Rahm will explain his continuing efforts to shut down neighborhood public schools. His latest plan is to close seven African American high schools in and around Englewood in spite of a declared and contractual moratorium on school closings.

Details are not available to the public.

Or maybe he will be sharing his latest high school graduation requirements. The Mayor-Autorcrat – who disdains the idea of citizens electing their school board – woke up the other morning and decided that CPS students should have a letter of acceptance from a college in order to graduate.

Voila! And so it shall be, says  the Mayor-Autocrat.

I bet Betsy wishes she had such power to make things happen. If only she did our kids would be genuflecting and saying the Lord’s Prayer in school this morning.

Which I had to do in first grade, by the way, having been in first grade before the Supreme Court ruled that religious activity had no place in a public school.

But with Gorsuch plus another Trump appointee to the Court, Betsy might get her way.

Her last meet up of the day is with Eva Moskowitz.

Eva was on the short list to be Secretary of Education.

For those of you who live out of New York, Moskowitz is a pre-eminent charter operator, earning a salary of over half a million bucks a year.

Moskowitz once explained her view of public neighborhood schools: “You can live on a posh street and be zoned for a very terrible school.”

Man. Who can’t relate to that problem?

DeVos is also planning to visit a public school with AFT President Randi Weingarten at a later date.

Details are not available.

Download our most recent episode of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. 

The DeVos and Weingarten tour.

AD at Sharpton Gingrich Tour Phadelphia, PA

The last roadshow featured Al Sharpton, Newt Gingrich and Arne Duncan.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued the following statement after accepting an invitation to visit a school in Van Wert, Ohio:

“I look forward to visiting the students, parents and educators of Van Wert. Every parent should be able to send their children to a school that meets their unique needs, and for many parents, that is a public school. I support and celebrate all great schools.

“I appreciate the district and AFT (American Federation of Teachers) President Randi Weingarten extending the invitation.”

Recall an earlier visit to a Washington D.C. school where parents blocked the Trump Secretary of Education from entering their school.

Randi, relying on the Trump method of not relying on facts to justify her statements, jumped on Twitter within minutes and condemned the DeVos protesters of violence.

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Randi “Just heard.” Yes. Like Trump heard on Fox that Obama tapped Trump Tower.

I was not impressed with Randi’s hearing.

I wear a hearing aid. I recommend it to Weingarten.

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Back when Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan was pursuing his attack on public education and teacher unions (Oh yes. Don’t forget Duncan’s letter of support for the mass firing of teachers), Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich went on tour to support him and the program.

Public school attacks make for all kinds of touring bedfellows.

Like the Rolling Stones, these tours never end.

 

So, more strange bedfellows in this latest school tour: A union buster and a union president.

What does Randi hope to gain from such nonsense?

But we know what Bestsy gets:

Cover for her choice agenda from a teacher union leader.

Podcast download: Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #10.

The racist cartoon of Betsy DeVos.

The southern Illinois Belleville News Democrat editorial cartoonist Glenn McCoy drew a cartoon comparing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Ruby Bridges.

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The original iconic painting of Ruby Bridges by Norman Rockwell.
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Ruby Nell Bridges was the first Black child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School during the New Orleans school desegregation battles in 1960.
Judge J. Skelly Wright’s court order for the first day of integrated schools in New Orleans on November 14, 1960, was commemorated by Norman Rockwell in the painting, The Problem We All Live With (published in Look magazine on January 14, 1964). As Bridges describes it, “Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.” Former United States Deputy Marshal Charles Burks later recalled, “She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we’re all very very proud of her.”
Betsy DeVos? Please.
A shameful racist cartoon in the News Democrat.

The man who said no to DeVos.

On Friday newly appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attempted to enter a Washington D.C. public neighborhood elementary school. Protesters turned her away.

Some, like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, accused protesters of using violence.

But that wasn’t so. It was a peaceful protest.

Weingarten went to Twitter.

News video of the protest doesn’t provide support for Weingarten’s claim about what she “heard.”

Weingarten posted on my Facebook feed:

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As a result of the accusation of violence, Bilal Ahmed Askaryar of Washington was arrested and faces charges of misdemeanor assault and failing to obey an officer.

 Askaryar came to the United States as a 5-year-old refugee from Afghanistan.

Who is Bilal Ahmed Askaryar?

NPR broadcast a story by Askaryar following Trump’s EO banning Muslims form the United States.

On Friday, an executive order was released that indicated the United States is banning the entry of Syrian refugees and temporarily suspending immigration for anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. To me, this policy looks to be based on nothing but prejudice against Muslims.

This has happened before. In 1939, the United States refused entry to another group of refugees: Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.

Bilal Askaryar visited Herat’s Grand Mosque on a trip to Afghanistan in 2014. He also returned to the site of his family home in Kabul, and found it gone after years of war.

Courtesy of Bilal Askaryar

Refugees are by definition the most vulnerable people among us. Families don’t choose to sacrifice everything they have and leave their homes unless their homes become like the mouth of a shark. Scapegoating people who are fleeing for their lives is an inhumanity that no person with a heart should be able to defend.

DeVos’ win is their loss.

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Betsy DeVos will make a terrible Secretary of Education.

I say this not because she paid for some right-wing union haters to demand that the Park Ridge school district fire me.  I taught for 30 years  and I was the union president.

I say this not because she is a bumbling fool or because she is inexperienced.

She’s experienced enough as a public school destroyer, thank you. And that’s what she was hired to do.

The truth is I haven’t really been happy with Secretaries of Education in a long time.

Rod Paige? Maggie Spellings? Arne Duncan?  John King?

Oy.

Will Betsy be worse?

Yes. But with less federal power.

And there are these wins:

She was the first cabinet appointment that needed a vote by the Veep to win approval.

Millions of people contacted their Senators in opposition to a cabinet position nobody cared about a couple of administrations ago.

Pop quiz!

Who was the first Secretary of Education?

I’ll give you hint.

She was appointed by Jimmy Carter.

Her name was Shirley Hofstedler. And by the way she was a lawyer and judge with no background in education. Nobody heard of her.

So now people are paying attention and that’s good.

Does anybody think the two Republicans who voted against DeVos would have been allowed to do that if they didn’t think DeVos was guaranteed and had the numbers?

But this.

Does anybody think that the Democrats would have voted in lockstep against DeVos and talked all last night if they weren’t afraid of you?

It’s another (partial) win for The Resistance.

I’m pumped. What’s next?

DeVos vote. Chicagoans demand Durbin and Duckworth vote no.

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Illinois’ two Democratic senators have not declared how they will vote on the DeVos nomination.

As a result Chicagoans will figuratively knock on their downtown doors tomorrow at the Federal Building, 230 South Dearborn at 3:30.

From the Facebook page:

Senators Durbin and Duckworth MUST VOTE NO on Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education. DeVos is a billionaire who would profit from the destruction of public education. Devos is the latest in Trump’s series of “Corporate Cabinet” nominees with vast personal wealth or deep ties to Wall Street and is widely considered to be Trump’s most vulnerable nominee.

Chicago area students and allies are also demanding Gov. Bruce Rauner and Speaker Michael Madigan resist Trump’s agenda by fully funding public education from pre-K through college by closing corporate tax loopholes, passing the LaSalle Street Tax, and requiring wealthy people like Gov. Rauner to pay their fair share of income taxes. Rauner and Madigan must also make free and fully funded public higher education accessible to ALL Illinois students, including undocumented students, by passing the Student ACCESS Bill (SB 2196).

There’s a lot going on, but Chicagoans have proven over and over again that we can take to the streets, hold a sign and chant at the same time and on more than two days in a row.

Betsy DeVos. Stupid, dangerous and a liar.

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Bernie was only partly right when he told Betsy DeVos that she wouldn’t be sitting before him in hearings considering her as Secretary of Education if she hadn’t donated $200 million to the Republican Party.

She is a right-wing self-proclaimed enemy of public education. She has spent her family’s money to harass public school union activists like me.

But if it wasn’t her, Trump would have found somebody else just as bad.

Eva Moskowitz was on the short list.

Her testimony should have been an embarrassment to any normal administration. For Trump and the GOP, nothing qualifies as an embarrassment.

Not even the idea of Grizzly bears in the classroom.

She is a stupid entitled woman who knows nothing about education, teaching and learning. And yet the truth is that she has been influencing education policy for years even as most Americans have never heard of her before her nomination as Education Secretary. That is the power her wealth provides.

While she said many stupid things on Tuesday, she lied about her relationship to her mother’s foundation.

She claimed that being listed as an officer of the DeVos Foundation was a clerical error.

At the very end of the hearing, Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, allocated the small time she had left to Hassan, who proceeded to reference the 990 tax forms. DeVos then made an astonishing claim. These government tax forms, filed by her own mother’s foundation, were incorrect. For years. Many years. “That was a clerical error. I can assure you I have never made decisions on my mother’s behalf on her foundation’s board.”

Reports Jeremy Scahill:

DeVos is married to Richard DeVos, the heir to the Amway Corporation fortune. She is also the sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who is secretly advising the Trump team on intelligence matters, as The Intercept reported Tuesday. The Prince and DeVos families’ merger through marriage was reminiscent of the monarchies of old Europe, and since the 1980s they have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican campaign coffers and the war chests of far-right religious organizations, at least one of which — the Family Research Council — has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Scahill again:

When I heard that, I pulled up the 990 tax documents of the Prince Foundation, which I investigated for my book “Blackwater.” Betsy DeVos was clearly listed as a vice president of the foundation’s board, along with her brother Erik, for many years, at least until 2014. DeVos was a vice president during the precise period Hassan was referring to.

 

Grizzly bears in the classroom.

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Michael Petrilli is President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, editor of Education Next and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

To put it plainly, he does not sit on my side of the aisle.

He loves choice and charters and Betsy DeVos.

Yesterday was not a good day for him. He offered a defensive Tweet.

But it was too late. The flood gates were open. Who knew who was first?

 

 

 

 

 

DeVos’ defenders, like Petrilli, complained that she wasn’t prepared. But what was the billionaire Amway heiress supposed to do? She was just being who she was: Entitled. Not too smart. Ideological. I appreciated that.

I mean, when you can’t recall whether or not you gave $2oo million to the Republican Party – not because you can’t remember whether you did or you didn’t but because you can’t remember how many millions you gave.

I would remember that for sure. I remember giving $37 to the Sanders campaign, for example.

Besides, the Grizzly bear issue is not that outlandish.

There was that time when our school was running a lockdown drill about three years prior to my retirement. Our principal was not too grounded in reality and she had come up with the idea to get on the school intercom and announce the start of the drill with the signal, “There’s a big dog running loose in the hallway.”

This was better than saying there was a gunman or terrorist in the building which she thought, correctly, would upset the young students.

Although the idea of a big dog running loose had the high probability of having the same impact.

Wiser heads prevailed and she was convinced to come up with another code.

Although not a Grizzly bear.

 

Betsy DeVos and the Prince of darkness.

stanger-danger

Okay.

So the next Secretary of Education doesn’t know what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is.

She thinks schools should have guns in case of Grizzley bears.

I have to admit that I found Al Franken’s gotcha on the debate over growth scores and competency a little confusing myself. I get that it showed that Betsy DeVos has little knowledge of school jargon. But, I mean, what was the past administration’s position on this alleged debate?

Given the time allotted, the Committee’s Democrats did the best they could to undermine the inevitable Secretary of Education.

I found myself wondering: Where was this sharp grilling when Arne Duncan was sitting before them? In so many ways, he set the groundwork on charters and privatization where Betsy will now try and take us.

But for those who opposed Arne Duncan on the basis that his Department exemplified too much federal control, we will now get Betsy “Let-the-states-decide” Devos.

Make America state’s rights again.

This will not be good news for parents of special needs children who depended on federal mandates, often weakly enforced and underfunded – but still there.

Watching the hearings I skipped my plan to begin watching season four of Shameless.

As it turned out, Shameless was exactly what I was watching.

What could be worse news than Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Eduction?

Jeremy Scahill reports that Betsy’s brother Erik Prince of Blackwater fame is now a close advisor to President-elect Trump.

Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and she has all but vowed to embark on a crusade to push a privatization and religious agenda in education that mirrors her brother’s in military and CIA affairs. Prince has long been a contributor to the campaign of fellow Christian warrior Mike Pence, and he contributed $100,000 to the pro-Trump Super PAC Make America Number 1. Prince’s mother, Elsa, pitched in another $50,000. That organization, run by Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge funder Robert Mercer, was one of the strongest bankrollers of Trump’s campaign.

According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, in December Prince attended the annual “Villains and Heroes” costume ball hosted by Mercer. Dowd wrote that Palantir founder Peter Thiel showed her “a picture on his phone of him posing with Erik Prince, who founded the private military company Blackwater, and Mr. Trump — who had no costume — but joke[d] that it was ’N.S.F.I.’ (Not Safe for the Internet).”

Not even Trump is brazen enough to give Prince a public post in his administration. But Prince is operating in the shadows, where he has always been most at home.

There will be no Senate confirmation hearing of Erik Prince.