After spending months rolling back federal guidelines to protect students' rights, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos claims her opposition to teacher walkouts is all about the children.
In GOP-controlled states across America, after years of school budget cuts, teachers are staging walkouts over classroom resources. And Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants you to know these protests have to end for the sake of the schoolchildren.
"I think we need to stay focused on what's right for kids," she said during a tour of a Dallas middle school, regarding the current teacher standoff in Oklahoma. "And I hope that adults would keep adult disagreements and disputes in a separate place, and serve the students that are there to be served."
This comment is more than a little disingenuous, given that DeVos' agenda has always led to unmitigated disaster for the rights and well-being of students.
As a right-wing megadonor in Michigan, DeVos pushed a disastrous package of school privatization "reforms" that resulted in abysmal levels of student achievement. She later admitted that she never "intentionally" visited schools that suffered under these policies to see what they were like.
At her confirmation hearing, DeVos callously suggested that disability rights policy should be "left to the states," and parents whose state deny their child a quality education can just move. True to her word, when DeVos took office, she rescinded 72 federal guidelines on disability rights law in public schools.
The truth is, the striking teachers DeVos so callously dismissed are the ones who have underprivileged students' best interests at heart.
The walkouts in Oklahoma are not just about salaries. They are about the fact that the state has starved schools of funding. Teachers are being made to work in run-down facilities, and use ancient, crumbling textbooks and equipment. The textbooks are so old, in fact, that one Oklahoma mother recently posted a picture of her elementary school daughter checking out a textbook once used by Blake Shelton in 1982.
None of this is good for students. And yet DeVos would rather the walkouts end and these issues be swept under the rug than actually listen to their concerns.
Teachers cannot teach if they have no money and no resources. But DeVos — who has spent her career trying to turn good education into a luxury — now claims teachers are hurting their students by demanding the tools to do their job.