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…