New "Education" Secretary DeVos:
Cut Public Education, Impose Christian Fascism
November 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.
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Betsy DeVos heads The American Federation for Children. This is an organization that describes itself as “the leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs and Education Savings Accounts.” (emphasis added)
School choice: Allowing white parents to avoid sending their children to integrated public schools. This strips public schools of funding. It leaves them with a high number of special-needs students and without resources to provide a decent education to children.
School vouchers: A tool for channeling state funding into private, religious (overwhelmingly Christian) schools. And thus having the government fund Christian schools, even though that is supposed to be unconstitutional. Parents get vouchers and can use them to pay tuition for segregated, Christian schools.
Betsy DeVos and her family control billions of dollars. They spend tens of millions on a whole range of reactionary missions ranging from attacking unions to imposing religion in schools. Her family fortune includes billions from Amway, which her husband’s father founded. Her brother, Erik Prince, founded the massive Blackwater mercenary organization (renamed Xi). In the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, author Jeremy Scahill wrote, “Erik Prince has been in the thick of this right-wing effort to unite conservative Catholics, evangelicals, and neoconservatives in a common theoconservative holy war—with Blackwater serving as a sort of armed wing of the movement.”
What does all this add up to? We will document here how very powerful networks funded by Betsy DeVos and her family see school vouchers as a step towards their openly avowed aim of eliminating public schools altogether, with the objective of replacing public schools with government-funded Christian schools. And, beyond that, in the words of an author who has studied this movement, to “mould the public sphere into the image of a fundamentalist theocratic state.”
Now Betsy DeVos is on her way to becoming the top government official in the Trump regime in charge of education in the United States.
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Schools
The Science of Evolution
and the Myth of Creationism
Knowing What's Real
and Why It Matters
Organizations DeVos heads have gone to great pains to brand vouchers as a way to improve education for inner city children. Inner city schools are terribly under-funded, segregated, and failing. But vouchers are not an answer. Education blogger Diane Ravitch has analyzed school test scores in inner cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Washington, DC. She has compared the results of students in private or religious schools funded by vouchers with public schools. She concludes vouchers provide families with the “opportunity” to take their child from a public school, where he or she has low test scores, to a private or religious school, where he or she will also have low test scores,” because, she concludes, “choice does not address the causes of low test scores: poverty and segregation.” (See Vouchers Don’t Work: Evidence from Milwaukee, March 29, 2013.)
Vouchers don’t improve education in the inner cities. But vouchers are an instrument for segregating schools. School vouchers emerged out of white racist rebellion against school integration in the South in the 1950s and ’60s. White parents yanked their children out of public schools and put them in (mostly) Christian and all-white private schools. Vouchers were a form through which state (and increasingly federal) government programs provided parents with financial aid to do that.
And as a matter of fact, the DeVos family strongly backs moves to end affirmative action. Affirmative action programs came out of the battles against segregation, and for equality, in the 1960s and ’70s. These programs opened up some limited opportunities in education and professions for Black people and other people subjected to systematic discrimination. Affirmative action programs have been under attack ever since they started, including from the DeVos family. In 2001, Betsy DeVos and her husband funded a lengthy legal fight against the University of Michigan’s affirmative action programs. The result was new court-imposed restrictions on affirmative action.
For decades, pro-voucher forces have made significant inroads. They have also bumped up against resistance, including from parents and teachers. Rachel Tabachnick, who tracks this movement, writes: “Since 1966, 24 of 25 voucher initiatives have been defeated by voters, most by huge margins. Nevertheless, the pro-privatization battle continues.... At the helm of this interconnected network is Betsy DeVos, the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement.” (“The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education,” by Rachel Tabachnick, Alternet).
Black, Latino, Native American, and poor students in America are locked down in dilapidated, grossly under-funded schools. These schools function as conveyers to prison, to minimum-wage jobs for some, or into a military that marauds around the world enforcing exploitation and oppression. And as bad as these schools are, they are under attack from extreme reactionaries who want to shut them down altogether and replace them with religious private schools.
A woman at the center of that attack is slated to be the next Secretary of Education.
Imposing Dark Ages Fundamentalism in Schools...
One major arm of the DeVos-funded network is the Acton Institute. The Acton Institute plays a pivotal role in coalescing the most reactionary libertarian opponents of public education with Christian fascist theocrats who oppose secular education. Within that mix, it is the Christian fascists who form the cutting edge of attacks on public schools.
The DeVos family has funded campaigns against same-sex marriage. They have campaigned for teaching so-called “intelligent design” in schools, which is a form of anti-scientific attack on the theory of evolution. (For an understanding of why the theory of evolution is true, and why it is so important to understand, see The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters by Ardea Skybreak.)
The Acton Institute sponsors a group called the Cornwall Alliance, which is currently marketing a DVD titled “Resisting the Green Dragon.” This pseudo-documentary describes global warming as a hoax and claims environmentalism is a cult attacking Christianity. (See “The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education.”)
In Service of a Fundamentalist Theocratic State
The Acton Institute sponsors Gary North, a Christian fascist who openly declares, “So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
In an article titled “Darwinism, Badges, and Guns,” North insists that the replacement of church-based education in the United States by public education in the 1880s was an “example of how bad ethics, coupled with government coercion, produces bad results.” North wants to end teaching Darwin’s scientific theory of evolution because it does not “allow” god to “shape history, including cosmic history, in terms of His purposes.”
North ends this article with “Auction off the public schools, one by one, before the next presidential election. High bids win.” He’s not joking. North demands society return to the norm of the 1880s, before the institutionalization of secular public schools. And that is not simply the rantings of a dark-ages theocrat. It represents powerful forces soon to be in control of the White House who aim to not just blur but erase the line between church and state in education.
In the book Faith in America: Changes, Challenges, New Directions, Charles H. Lippy outlines how these forces have been gaining strength in top institutions of government, and making major inroads through Supreme Court decisions, with the aim of dispensing with the form of vouchers and moving to open government funding for Christian fundamentalist schools.
And Lippy identifies the “voucher” agenda as part of a larger, and even darker and more ominous, program. He writes, “For North and many others on the Christian Right, school voucher programs and faith-based initiatives are but strategies for building the rank and file of their movement, a movement that ultimately seeks to mould the public sphere into the image of a fundamentalist theocratic state.” (emphasis added) Lippy identifies reversing gains in gay rights and banning abortion as key and first steps in the agenda of those bent on imposing that “fundamentalist theocratic state.”
STOP THEM NOW!
Betsy DeVos is an attack dog in the all-out assault on public education.
Betsy DeVos sponsors movements to impose theocratic religious oppression and madness through schools.
And the incoming Trump regime has slotted her to be Secretary of Education!
That regime has NO claim to legitimacy!
It must be STOPPED NOW before this white supremacist, Dark Ages agenda becomes reality.
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