April 3, 2017 – An Especially Antipodean Day in the Walking Contradiction That is the Antithetical Secretary of Education

There was a disturbance in the Force today in the Old North State.

No not…

darth-vader-10-most-dangerous-star-wars-villains

But…

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

As Alex Granados of EdNC.org reported on April 3rd,

On Monday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made her first visit to a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school since being sworn in.

She came to Kimberly Hampton Primary School in Fort Bragg as part of the Month of the Military Child. 

“It’s a real privilege to be able to come here today and highlight the important role that military children have — that we have on behalf of military children, whose lives are often very transient as you all know,” DeVos said. “And we need to pay a special tribute to they and their families and to ensure that they have the best opportunity for a great education” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/04/03/education-secretary-visits-fort-bragg/).

First, I must thank Mrs. DeVos for coming to our military friendly state.

Secondly, I want to thank her again for butchering the English language when she stated that she wanted to “pay a special tribute to they.”

But most of all, I want to point out the absolute impeccable timing of this visit and the ancillary activity that surrounded it.

During that visit, DeVos tweeted the following,

devos fort bragg

And she’s right about that. North Carolina is the most military friendly state in the country as far as bases are concerned. Children of the military and their parents face challenges like no other.

But I find it ironic that someone who touts school choice, vouchers, and charters would say that about students who are, as she says, “very transient.” Wouldn’t that mean that their schools should be well-funded and well-resourced to be successful so that no matter where their families were stationed they would receive a good education?

At least that what DeVos says. And she is touting a budget that actually forced the DoDEA to have to seek an exemption because it created a hiring freeze. As reported in places like http://www.feaonline.org/passport/issues/hiringfreeze.htm,

By blocking the hiring of any new employees, the President’s plan could make it impossible for DoDEA to replace educators who retire or otherwise separate from the school system. Since the students would still remain and still require a teacher to teach them, it is not clear how DoDEA would deal with such vacancies without relying on substitutes (who are already in short supply and are not a viable long-term solution) or increasing class sizes (and thereby doing serious harm to the quality of education).

But what really was interesting was what broke in the Washington Post later that day.

Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince.

Erik Prince is Betsy DeVos’s brother.

Listen to this junk.

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/blackwater-founder-held-secret-seychelles-meeting-to-establish-trump-putin-back-channel/2017/04/03/95908a08-1648-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html?utm_term=.ccae3abbad8e).

What?

Go further.

Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a security firm that became a symbol of U.S. abuses in Iraq after a series of incidents, including one in 2007 in which the company’s guards were accused — and later criminally convicted — of killing civilians in a crowded Iraqi square. Prince sold the firm, which was subsequently re-branded, but has continued building a private paramilitary empire with contracts across the Middle East and Asia. He now heads a Hong Kong-based company known as the Frontier Services Group.

Prince would probably have been seen as too controversial to serve in any official capacity in the Trump transition or administration. But his ties to Trump advisers, experience with clandestine work and relationship with the royal leaders of the Emirates — where he moved in 2010 amid mounting legal problems for his American business — would have positioned him as an ideal go-between.

2300-Seychelles-0401

 

So this is what seems to have happened today:

Betsy DeVos visited North Carolina (the most military friendly state in the country) today to tout school choice for a segment of the population that was originally ignored by a budget she touted while her brother, who set up a charter school version of a paramilitary overseas that took tax payer money and killed innocent Iraqi civilians who had no weapons of mass destruction during a war that claimed lives of American soldiers who trained at the very base DeVos was visiting, was being exposed as having set up secret meeting for Trump to assist in communicating with a man known for meddling in the affairs of the free-world all while living in one of the two predominantly Muslim nations that were not on the original banned list for Trump’s executive order because of original business ties to the president.

Yep. That sounds about right.

And one of the men who backed DeVos’s confirmation without any hesitation was North Carolina’s senior senator, Richard Burr who now is helping to head the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating the very role that Russia had in meddling with the election.

Damn, I’ve learned a lot with Betsy at the helm. A hell of a lot.

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. Richard Burr – Do Not Confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

Senator Burr,

As the senior senator of our state embarking on your third term in office, your voice in the national arena carries both weight and experienced perspective. And while you and I share many differing opinions on issues that affect our country, I do believe that we share a passion to make sure that all students have access to a great public education.

In preparing to cast my vote this past election, I did review your website to glean your perspective on some issues that seemed to become lost in the national debate with what might be one of the more bombastic presidential elections in history. On your www.burrforsenate.com website, you posted on op-ed you wrote for the Fayetteville Observer entitled “Giving our children a better future.”

In it you made statements such as:

“Our children are the future of North Carolina, and they represent the best of us. I am proud to be an avid defender of North Carolina students in the Senate.”

“As a part of my commitment to defending North Carolina students, I was proud to offer an amendment to fix a long-standing inequality in education funding that has shortchanged North Carolina’s teachers, schools and low-income students for over 15 years.”

“My amendment makes sure that federal education funding meant for schools that serve kids from low-income families actually goes to those very schools.”

“This means that with more education dollars coming to North Carolina, we will have more teachers in North Carolina helping our students get a great education.”

“We have made great strides this Congress to deliver control of K-12 education back to local communities, while making sure limited federal education funding is going to the communities that need it the most. But making sure that our children are getting the best education possible is going to be an ongoing fight for North Carolina families in Washington. I’m pledging to continue fighting for North Carolina’s schools, teachers and students, because a brighter future for North Carolina students means a brighter future for North Carolina.”

What I sense in these words is a commitment to our public schools.

In fact, you are the son of a former public school teacher and a graduate of R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem. I teach at another school in Reynolds’s district, West Forsyth High School, and am proud to report that Reynolds still holds an incredible reputation as a historically effective institution and I know many of the fantastic teachers who work there.

However, we are experiencing in North Carolina a decline in teacher candidates. Why? Because public education is under attack. And when public education is under attack by “re-forming” efforts like vouchers and unregulated charter school growth then communities suffer. Your wife is a leading realtor in the Triad area. I feel very confident that she could tell you the effect on the “value” of property that the public school system has on communities.

I say all of this because President-elect Trump has appointed a candidate to lead the nation’s public schools who very well may be the most unqualified individual to ever be considered for the position.

And you have the power to help keep that from happening.

When you ran for reelection, you touted your experience. Experience in certain fields seems to be an important factor when running for leadership positions.

Betsy DeVos has none whatsoever. In fact, when searching her background of ill-fated credentials, I found that:

  • Betsy DeVos has no degree in education meaning she is not even educated in how to educate.
  • Betsy DeVos has no teaching experience.
  • Betsy DeVos never attended a public school or state supported university. None of her children have either.
  • Betsy DeVose’s monetary contributions to Christian-based schools and evangelical organizations has been conservatively estimated at $200 million.
  • Betsy DeVos is totally anti-union and believes that teachers are paid too much.
  • Betsy DeVos supports vouchers.

The idea of a privileged billionaire “privatizer” leading the nation’s public schools is more than contradictory or antithetical; it’s diametrically repugnant.

So, I ask that you do not confirm her as our Secretary of Education.

Senator, your election is over. You can now fully attend the business of our country while focusing on how our state can be best represented. If any of the words in the aforementioned op-ed you wrote still have weight, then Betsy DeVos cannot become our schools’ leader.

You said on your website (burrforsenate.com), “My mother was an elementary school teacher who understood the value of education and its power to lift people out of poverty.”

Betsy DeVos does not have that understanding.

 

 

Sincerely,
Stuart Egan
Public School Teacher
Parent of Two Children in Public Schools
Voter