The Myth of the Billionaire Savior

As a parent, I’ve been in the private religious school system and the public school system. I was head of fundraising and PR for a triple- accredited private religious school. I probably have more experience than DeVos – and I’ve only dabbled as an educator. I’m being sardonic but hard to know, right?

The answer for funding of private religious schools is not public funds. It is more creative and resourceful fundraising. Why do the same Republicans who believe in trickle-down economics and tax breaks for the wealthy in order to fuel the economy, suddenly feel that private for-profit schools are incapable of managing on their own?

And who is to say that these same private schools won’t simply raise their tuition costs once school vouchers are offered? After all, there is no oversight of private schools. There would be no accountability to taxpayers. Billionaire DeVos has spent a boatload of money fighting against financial accountability for charter schools.

I’ve worked and lived among people like DeVos and Vice President Pence for decades — true believers. Our Democracy is one that has flourished on separation of church and state. We’ve raised generations of successful children on these democratic principles. DeVos and Pence — they believe their Christian beliefs supercede the rights of our citizens. The (mainly Orthodox) Jews who have jumped in with them are playing a dangerous, short-sighted game. For example, we’ve just seen how the Trump Administration views Holocaust education: It didn’t happen to the Jews.

And, the truth is that children with disabilities or simply children with different issues are not well protected in private schools. (Different is not often an understood or accepted commodity in religious circles.) Actually, many religious parents rely on the public school system for the education of their children on the spectrum.

Further, public school education has already suffered so many funding cuts. Music and arts – gone. Physical Education – gone. Or nearly gone. Public Schools need far greater funding and teachers need raises. They’re practically our slave population as it is. Public Education needs every single tax dollar and innovative, accomplished, experienced thinkers.

Betsy DeVos and her family have contributed millions of dollars to the same Senators charged with vetting her. In theory, isn’t that type of DC corruption everything Trump supporters supposedly voted against? For that matter, isn’t that the political and financial corruption Progressives voted against, as well?

But in the end, what’s germane here is that Betsy DeVos is glaringly unqualified and ill-prepared for the job of Secretary of Education. The fact is that her for-profit Charter Schools in Michigan have been a failure. She’s a walking nightmare when it comes to both knowledge and effectiveness. It’s frightening to think that she showed up for the biggest interview of her life with such complete unfamiliarity with her prospective responsibilities.

It pains me as a feminist to say this, because I am nearly always advocating for more women in power. And Trump’s Cabinet certainly needs many more women around the table. But Betsy DeVos is not that person.

By the same token, I applaud Republicans Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowsky of Alaska. They listened to their constituents and voted against DeVos. In my state in Tennessee, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is deaf to his angry constituents. Judging by his social media, nearly all of his constituents, including and especially Republicans, are vehemently against Trump’s DeVos nomination. Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker also voted in favor of her yesterday, though I’m hopeful he will come to his senses.

However, there is still one procedural vote left and it’s at a dead even heat. If this maintains, DeVos will need notoriously right-wing Vice President Pence’s vote to break the tie – a first ever in Senate Confirmation hearings in the 240 year history of our nation. An Education Secretary overseeing the education of over 90% of American children should have a far more significant seal of approval to attain her job. There is still time to contact your Senators.¬†And politicians would be wise not to vote against their constituents interests.

Because no matter Democrat or Republican, no matter what political views people hold…ask any parent what matters most to them, and their answer will be their children.

About the Author
Dana is a Jewish feminist, writer and poet. She is passionate about her daughter, love, kindness, spirituality, the artist's voice, and speaking out for the vulnerable. She lives in Music City, Nashville, TN.
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