Randi Calls/ DeVos Cowers

Feb 12, 2018 by

“Bolt the doors!  Activate the retinal scanners!  Secure all duty stations!  Deny access to teacher union members seeking entry to the Department of Education!  In their possession are a hundred-thousand evaluations of my leadership. Treat them as contraband!  They’re explosive! Call the “bomb squad” unit of our Public Affairs Bureau. Slam the unions. Smear their leaders. Alert Vice President Pence and ask for his blessing!”

These orders by Betsy DeVos, the lone US Secretary of Education in history to have never had any experience of any kind on any level as an educator, were apocryphally attributed to her. Although not her actual words, they are a creative reconstruction unfortunately faithful to her spirit.

Last week, bouncers were deployed at the gates of the federal Department of Education, specifically to stop Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and her NEA counterpart, from delivering the incriminating “report cards” to Secretary DeVos.

They had never before been forbidden entry to the building. This was a first. Why now?

Obviously their presence struck a raw nerve, as they were carrying credible and definitive evidence of the miserable stewardship of DeVos over the year that she has sullied her position after having been ascended to it by a  fluke in her confirmation hearing.

Betsy DeVos’s tenure at the DOE has been an unmitigated disaster according to the almost unanimous judgment of classroom teachers. It is dismal and there are no bright spots.

Perhaps because when it comes to education, DeVos’s head is blank, she has been given a “blank check”. Not in the sense of money to fund services essential to the pursuit of quality education, but rather as a free hand to wreck public schools as she sees fit.

She has spared no expense of energy in that quest.

She has slashed her budget by $9 billion. With a grin, she has poked holes in the umbrella of protections for handicapped children. On a checklist of major educational issues, she scores poorly in every area.

If they were listed as bullet points, those “bullets” would be enough to supply an army. But never enough to make her retreat from her positions, because gets too much cover.

AFT President Weingarten and NEA chief Lily Garcia couldn’t cross the threshold of DeVos’s office building, but they knocked down its walls just by standing there. A mouthpiece for DeVos called this remonstrance a “stunt” and “theatrics.”

A siege mentality reigns at the federal Department of Education. It is said “The truth will out”.  In this case, it also got in, although the messengers were outside.

Betsy DeVos is the only cabinet secretary requiring a ring of United States marshals around her wherever she goes. Although she is so unpopular and her views are so incendiary, her personal safety should never be endangered. But there is no shielding her from the mass condemnation of everything she’s done and all she stands for.

Her indictment was not handed down from a court of law. It took a different form: one hundred-thousand signatures from witnesses to her violations. Weingarten and Garcia acted simply as agents of the People of the United States.

Ron Isaac

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