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Betsy DeVos Watch: Protests continue to follow the Secretary of Education across the country

October 16, 2017

On Friday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke in Seattle, Washington at a forum hosted by the Washington Policy Center.

Her speech was not unlike many of the other speeches she has given since becoming Secretary of Education, especially at forums hosted by organizations that have similar a ideological framework as DeVos. 

There were a couple of things during her speech that are worth noting. First, DeVos once again used the mantra of states rights to push her education agenda, commenting that states, “are best equipped to solve the unique problems they face.” Second, DeVos argues that public money is really the taxpayers money and therefore, shouldn’t parents be able to spend that money how they want in terms of education? I wonder if Betsy feels the same way about tax dollars that subsidize large corporations, like Amway. Does she think the public should be able to decide if Amway or any other corporations should receive public money? How about the public tax dollars that go to the US military? Should the public be allowed to have a say in how that money gets used and whether or not they want it to go to the largest military in the world? Betsy DeVos, like all neoliberal capitalist only believe in government intervention when it serves their interest.

Third, DeVos makes a comparison between food and education choice. She states:

Near the Department of Education, there aren’t many restaurants. But you know what? Food trucks started lining the streets to provide options. Some are better than others; and some are even local restaurants that have added trucks to their businesses to better meet customer’s needs.

Now, if you visit one of those food trucks instead of a restaurant, do you hate restaurants? Or are you trying to put grocery stores out of business?

No. You are simply making the right choice for you based on your individual needs at that time.

This argument is essentially a free market argument, where she believes that education, like food or anything else, is nothing more than a commodity.

Fourth, early on in her speech, DeVos says:

State-based centers like yours are important in shaping policy because you have great ideas and you fight for them. Your fellow member in the State Policy Network, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, has advanced major initiatives in my home state of Michigan.

It is important to understand that the Washington Policy Center, just like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Acton Institute are all think tanks that are members of the State Policy Network.   

According to Source Watch:

The State Policy Network (SPN) is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of July 2017, SPN’s membership totals 153. Today’s SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party.

The Center for Media & Democracy published an excellent report entitled, Exposed: The State Policy Network, which we highly recommend. Here is just one of the section from the report that provides a snapshot of what the State Policy Network advocates all across the country.

Protests Follow Betsy DeVos wherever she goes

Lastly, it is important to point out that during the 8 months that Betsy DeVos has been the Secretary of Education, protests occur no matter where she travels to. While she was in Seattle last Friday, she was greeted by over 1,000 people, possibly the largest demonstration she has been confronted by since taking office.

This video gives you a sense of how large the protest was.

People in Grand Rapids have certainly protested Betsy DeVos while she has visited Grand Rapids, both on in early August while she was at GRCC and more recently while speaking at the opening of the new MSU building in downtown Grand Rapids

In the Seattle Times story last Friday, they provide an interactive map of where the Secretary of Education has visited and how many times she was met by protestors. Go to this link and scroll down halfway through the article until you see this map.

This Wednesday, we have a chance to add to the number of protests against Betsy DeVos since she became Secretary of Education. The Acton Institute is holding its annual meeting at the DeVos Convention Center and Betsy DeVos is the keynote speaker. For details on the protest, go here.

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