The Pharisaical DeVastation of Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos might very well be the most “not-pro-life” person in the nation’s capital.

“It goes back to what I mentioned, the concept of really being active in the Shephelah of our culture — to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things — in this case, the system of education in the country.” – Betsy DeVos, 2001 (http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/betsy-devos-education-trump-religion-232150).

For Betsy Devos, this new Shephalah (an area in Israel known for its Biblical battled between the Israelites and Philistines), is the national public school system. And for a woman whose family has donated untold millions to movements against LGBT rights and abortion rights all while promoting “choice” in schools, DeVos has perfectly shown that her agenda is really not “pro-life” at all.

Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee confirmation hearing

Just look what she has done to key guidelines to Individual with Disabilities Education Act this past week. As reported in the Washington Post by Moriah Balingit,

The Education Department has rescinded 72 policy documents that outline the rights of students with disabilities as part of the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate regulations it deems superfluous.

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services wrote in a newsletter Friday that it had “a total of 72 guidance documents that have been rescinded due to being outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective — 63 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 9 from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).” The documents, which fleshed out students’ rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act, were rescinded Oct. 2 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/10/21/devos-rescinds-72-guidance-documents-outlining-rights-for-disabled-students/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.d83a2dd43914).

This is after other rather discriminatory actions this past year. Again Balingit:

This is not the first time DeVos has rolled back Education Department guidance, moves that have raised the ire of civil rights groups. The secretary in February signed off on Trump’s rescinding of guidance that directed schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity, saying that those matters should be left up to state and local school officials. In September, she scrapped rules that outlined how schools should investigate allegations of sexual assault, arguing that the Obama-era guidance did not sufficiently take into account the rights of the accused.

What DeVos has done in her short and turbulent tenure is in no way “pro-life.” It’s discrimination.

It is easy to confine the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” to the arena of unborn children. But the issue of abortion is not really the subject of this post.

Why? Abortion is too big of an issue to tackle in a personal essay and I am certainly not convinced that declaring yourself “pro-choice” automatically means that you condone abortion in any situation. Life throws too many qualifications into its equations to make all choices an either/or choice.

When my wife and I received a pre-natal diagnosis that our son had Down Syndrome, we were fortunate enough to be able to talk to a genetic counselor at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. The state of North Carolina had at the time in its laws stated that an abortion could not be performed after a certain date in a woman’s pregnancy. If we had chosen to have an abortion, we would have had to make that decision in a rather small amount of time.

We did not seek an abortion; it was not an option for us, but it was rather surreal to receive phone calls from health providers talking about that option because they had to legally inform us of our rights/options/legal restrictions. You might be shocked to know the percentage of people/couples who choose to abort with the information we had. I was. And I am not about to judge those who did choose what is legally their right in the eyes of the law. There are too many variables in lives that I do not live to run around and make judgement calls.

I also will never carry a child in a womb. Neither will Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or all of the other “men” who stand to gain from their positions of power.

We had Malcolm and I would not trade anything for the experience of being his parent. Anyone who knows me and my family can testify to that. But he is no longer “unborn.” He is now in our world among others who need help to lead fulfilling lives. He actually needs the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its guidelines.

I do get rather irritated when the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are used in a polarizing fashion, especially for political gain (which applies to DeVos). And when I review quotes, interviews, and witness current actions by our secretary of education, I do not necessarily sense a “pro-life” message as much as I sense an “anti-those who don’t think my way” message.

Because “pro-life” means so much more than that.

Why are we not protecting the lives of those who are already born? I feel that being “pro-life” is not a matter reserved for the issue of abortion and the unborn, but should include those who are living and need help.

Hubert Humphrey once said in 1977, “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

If you are “pro-life” then it would make sense that you would look to the welfare of those who cannot necessarily defend themselves without help like the “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Is it not ironic that many who promote a strict “pro-life” platform seem to be in favor of privatizing or redefining the very services that help sustain the lives of those whom they claim to champion.

Think of Medicaid that my own son has been on the waiting list for because he will need its services earlier than most people. If it becomes privatized, it may jeopardize his chances of getting the help he needs when he gets older. Within the state of North Carolina, not expanding Medicaid affects many “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Nationally speaking, think of Obamacare that insures many who would not be eligible if such a plan was not in place. While it is anything from perfect, it has insured many people who were never insured before. And have the parties in charge of the government offered anything else except “free-market?”

Think of the use of tax payer money to fund vouchers and charter schools that are actually privatizing public schools all in the name of “choice” when there should be a push to fully fund all public schools and provide for their resources because public education is a public service and not a private entity.

It seems that many of the politicians and policy makers like DeVos who claim to be hardline “pro-lifers” are helping to privatize the very institutions that are giving “life” to many individuals. And they are doing it in the name of free-markets, where people are supposed to be able to choose what they want hoping that the “market” controls prices and quality.

How ironic that many politicians who proclaim to be “pro-life” become “pro-choice” when it pertains to those who are already born.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would call himself “pro-life” and allow for big banks (look at what Wells Fargo did) and pharmaceutical companies (think of EpiPens) to literally control prices and the market without a fight.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would have been willing to allow public money to fund private entities without input from the public itself.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would not confront politicians and call them out for their hypocrisy in not defending or helping take care of those who needed aid.

The Jesus I know called out the Sadducees and the Pharisees for their self-righteous ways.

The Jesus I know did not canvas for votes. He came to help all of us no matter race, gender, or physical ailment.

The Jesus I know preached and practiced the Golden Rule.

When you become an elected official (or a barely confirmed one like DeVos), then your business is all of humankind. Is that not being “pro-life.”

Back to the Shephalah.

Malcolm Gladwell talks of the same area in a TED Talk about his book David & Goliath. It is the place where supposedly David killed the large Philistine with a stone and a sling. Goliath was adorned with armor and weapons of the highest quality and attended by many servants. David seemed to be from very modest beginnings, but capable of so much.

When I think of the dynamics of people like DeVos and other “reformers” who preach their brand of “pro-life,” I don’t see the youngest son of Jesse who was a shepherd like David. I see the glitz and glamor of the golden armor of a giant who wears a shield of big money like Goliath. I see that God could use the gifts of anyone who did not come from a well-known family to help others.

Even if that person was gay or even had developmental delay.

A Thank You Letter From Betsy DeVos to Sen. Richard Burr

Oddly enough, I found this fake letter absolutely nowhere on the internet, but if it did exist it might sound like…

 

 

Dear Richard,

I cannot thank you enough for your confirmation vote this past week as I strive to continue my quest of taking public money from taxpayers and finance more unregulated charter schools and blindly give out vouchers for religious schools.

Thank you for looking past my lack of experience and confusion that became so evident in the hearing in front of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Your help with the H.E.L.P. was really helpful.

betsy

Thank you for understanding that my lack of skills with grammar and usage directly corresponds to my ability to run a branch of government.

tautology

Thank you for overlooking the fact that I forgot that the Individual with Disabilities Education Act was a federal mandate because as you know I tend to prefer to help children who only worship God as I see him.

“So were you unaware when I just asked you about the IDEA that it was a federal law?” Hassan asked.

“I may have confused it,” DeVos said.

Thank you for supporting me in my quest to arm schools against grizzly bears because I know that your state is just like Utah and has lots of bears who commonly roam classrooms to seek another meal like Satan seeks another soul.

grizzly-in-classroom

Thank you for understanding that my financial support of groups that believe in conversion therapy for LGBT people is very important to me. I mean look at that bathroom law you have in North Carolina.

“Foundations run by her parents and her husband’s parents have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Focus on the Family, a group that’s promoted damaging gay ‘conversion therapy’ and called homosexuality ‘preventable and treatable.'”

“A foundation run by her husband’s brother and sister-in-law donated $500,000 to the antigay National Organization for Marriage, and a foundation run by DeVos and her husband has donated more than $100,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. DeVos’s late father, Edgar Prince, helped found the Family Research Council; her mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, sits on the boards of the FRC and the Acton Institute, which sponsored a conference held by an antigay hate group.” – Randi Weingarten.

But most of all, thank you for taking my maximum contributions to your reelection campaign and proving that you can be bought.

devos-image

 

Because when I said,

“We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment; we expect a good and honest government. Furthermore, we expect the Republican party to use the money to promote these policies, and yes, to win elections,”

I meant it!

I hope the Senate is as easily fooled and as weak as you when it comes to standing up for public schools.

 

Love,
Betsy

Open Letter to Sen. Buck Newton – Damn Straight!

Dear Sen. Newton,

I read with great disappointment reports of your anti-gay sentiments at a pro-HB2 rally in Raleigh on April 26th.

According to an Associated Press release in the Winston-Salem Journal you were quoted as inciting a crowd with the following words: “Tell your friends and family who had to work today what this is all about and how hard we must fight to keep our state straight.”

As the Republican nominee for Attorney General of North Carolina, it seems odd that you would say statements that contradict the very national and state constitutions that you would vow to protect if elected and claim to abide by now as a lawyer and public servant.

In case you forgot in your passionate defense of an unlawful piece of legislature, citizens are considered equal in the eyes of the law whether they are straight, gay, or transgender.

You should best know that your words were discriminatory. In fact, they could be considered homophobic.

As an elected official from District 11, your duty is to all of the citizens who either voted for you, against you, or refrained from voting in the past three elections for your seat. For that matter, you are accountable to all North Carolinians no matter their orientation, creed, race, or religion. That’s because you hold a state office and are seeking another.

Would you say that you only served the “straight” people in your district? Would you say that you would only serve the “straight” people of North Carolina? Do you as a potential Attorney General of North Carolina really view HB2 as a constitutionally sound law? Do you not see the recent ruling in Virginia concerning a transgender teen as a sign of the demise of HB2? These are not rhetorical questions. They deserve an answer, one that is not clouded with campaign talk and vitriolic rhetoric.

A viable candidate for Attorney General does not run on a platform that is discriminatory. That is antithetical to the very principles of equality in the eyes of the law.

I myself am a government employee, a traditional public high school teacher to be exact. No matter who walks into my classroom, no matter who is on my roll or asks me for support with their academics, I am bound to help them. It’s my job. If a student is gay, straight, transgender, black, white, Christian, Muslim, or atheist, my job does not change.

Nor should yours. And you took a vow.

My commitment to do my job is not limited by someone else’s constitutionally protected sense of self.

Nor should yours. Because you took a vow.

Ironically, when confronted about your words concerning the “straightness” of North Carolina, you backtracked saying:

“It means keep men out of the ladies’ room…. I think the silly season is upon us and I think this whole effort by the Democratic Party is to be expected. I never mentioned gays or anyone. So I’m not quite sure how they made that leap. Maybe they’re being a little sensitive.”

Well, it’s not a leap. One of the definitions of the word “straight” on sites like vocabulary.com or thefreedictionary.com refers to sexual orientation. To say with a “straight face” that the word “straight” is not connoted with sexual orientation is just “straight up” wrong. So while you thought you “set the record straight” by looking “straight into” the eyes of reporters, you simply did not “get your facts straight”.

What North Carolinians need is “straight talk” and not someone who can’t “shoot straight”.

Besides, our state borders are not straight. Our highways are not straight. Out mountains do not point straight up into the air. Our coastlines are not straight. Our rivers do not flow straight.

In fact, they are curvy and have their own shapes and paths. They are diverse, like the very people you claim to want to represent.

And that’s the “straight truth.”