The Assault on Education Continues

The recent vintage of the Republican Party has a problem with education, more specifically public education. At the federal level, this is often shown in their disdain for the Department of Education, a very important – at least if you care about having smart people in your country – executive office that dictates education policy in this country (pretty straightforward, I know). Nevertheless, the “states’ rights” branch of the Party thinks that education should be controlled by the states, with a former Republican candidate for president declaring that he would shut down the Department if given the chance. Utah Congresswoman Mia Love made the same goal a huge aspect of her run for office. At the state level, Red and Blue State governors alike often view education cuts as the quickest way to balance bloated government budgets.

The final straw may be the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as President Trump’s Secretary of Education. Her nomination was pretty controversial from the beginning. A daughter of a billionaire married to a millionaire, she never attended public school or had to send her children through the public school system. She was never a teacher and had no school administration experience. Her only qualification seemed to be the massive amounts of money she donated to Republican politicians that ultimately confirmed her nomination and her contributions to groups that sought to “privatize” public schools by giving students vouchers for private charter schools, while also stating that education reform was a way to “advance God’s kingdom” by prioritizing public education funds for parochial charter schools.

The assault on our education system needs to end. Compared to 2008, just prior to the financial crisis, education spending is down in 35 states. Seven more states increased education spending by less than 2.3%, not enough to keep up with inflation. These short term solutions have long term impacts that aren’t fully felt until years after the governor in question has moved onto the next thing, like running for president. Meanwhile, students and teachers suffer, and the students of America get further behind their peers around the world. Students are leaving high school unprepared to be competitive in a rapidly modernizing world that requires higher education, and (public) colleges and universities are feeling the funding crunch as well, churning out many students with a degree, but lacking the skills actually needed to get a job that can pay off their student loans.

Teachers are feeling the brunt of these education cuts. Threats to pensions – teachers do not pay into social security and are dependent on a state-funded pension so they can retire someday – and wages not equal to the amount of work both in and out of the classroom that they do. I’m not a teacher, never have been (aside from a handful of days spent as a substitute), but I know many great teachers. Not to mention that I was once a public student AND HAD TEACHERS THAT TAUGHT ME WELL. I know that they are important, and why the coward Republicans that voted to confirm Betsy DeVos don’t is beyond my comprehension.

This travesty is further proof that it is time to remove private money from our electoral system. Betsy DeVos wouldn’t be in the position that she is if not for the MILLIONS of dollars she donated to political causes, especially the campaigns of many of the senators that confirmed her today. Betsy DeVos has no reason to be in charge of the Department of Education, no qualifications of any sort, yet her money made more of her case than her comments about guns being allowed in schools to fend of bear attacks. Every single one of the following senators should be ashamed of themselves and voted out of office at the first available opportunity:

Name State Next Election Name State Next Election
Lamar Alexander TN 2020 Johnny Isakson GA 2022
John Barrasso WY 2018 Ron Johnson WI 2022
Roy Blunt MO 2022 John Kennedy LA 2022
John Boozman AR 2022 James Lankford OK 2022
Richard M. Burr NC 2022 Mike Lee UT 2022
Shelley Capito WV 2020 John McCain AZ 2022
Bill Cassidy LA 2020 Mitch McConnell KY 2020
Thad Cochran MS 2020 Jerry Moran KS 2022
Bob Corker TN 2018 Rand Paul KY 2022
John Cornyn TX 2020 David Perdue GA 2020
Tom Cotton AR 2020 Rob Portman OH 2022
Michael D. Crapo ID 2022 Jim Risch ID 2020
Ted Cruz TX 2018 Pat Roberts KS 2020
Steve Daines MT 2020 Mike Rounds SD 2020
Michael B. Enzi WY 2020 Marco Rubio FL 2022
Joni Ernst IA 2020 Ben Sasse NE 2020
Deb Fischer NE 2018 Tim Scott SC 2022
Jeff Flake AZ 2018 Jeff Sessions AL 2020
Cory Gardner CO 2020 Richard C. Shelby AL 2022
Lindsey Graham SC 2020 Dan Sullivan AK 2020
Chuck Grassley IA 2022 John Thune SD 2022
Orrin G. Hatch UT 2018 Thom Tillis NC 2020
Dean Heller NV 2018 Patrick J. Toomey PA 2022
John Hoeven ND 2022 Roger Wicker MS 2018
James M. Inhofe OK 2020 Todd Young IN 2022

These people need to be held accountable for ALL of the their actions, not just this one. Keep calling, keep protesting, but most importantly, keep voting for their opponents. The only way that they will truly get the message is if they are no longer in Washington, DC to dodge your calls.

Until next time…

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