CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today issued the following statement in response to the Senate confirmation of billionaire public education novice Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education:
“Choosing Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education was one of the first in what will surely be a series of horrific decisions made by the Trump administration. Throughout the confirmation hearings, she proved to be completely unqualified for the position due to her lack of experience in public schools—which she has called a ‘dead end’—and through her support of charter schools, which have weakened districts like Chicago Public Schools (CPS) throughout the country.
“Now that she has been confirmed, the groundswell of opposition to her appointment—evident by the first-ever deciding vote cast by a U.S. vice president—will continue to grow, especially in Chicago, where she shares much in common with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as both cater to billionaires who dabble in destroying public education in areas of high poverty inhabited by Black and brown people. No matter how much he tries to convince the public otherwise, Emanuel’s insistence on refusing to force his wealthy campaign donors to equitably fund CPS and neglect of the communities where hundreds of thousands of CPS students and educators live and work is a page right out of the billionaire education ‘reform’ playbook co-written by his mentor, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
“While our public schools crave revenue, democracy and an end to privatization, the policies that Emanuel has rolled out in Chicago, and Rauner and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton are working to expand statewide, helped pave the way for the nightmare that is ‘U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ and the damage she will do nationally. Said CTU President Karen Lewis:
“‘The only reason Betsy DeVos is in this position is because her family has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Republican Party, and not because of any sincere commitment to public education, because she has none. It’s no surprise that [Illinois Governor] Bruce Rauner was among those who endorsed her, because they have a lot in common—such as using their extreme wealth to buy their positions.
“‘Our union will continue to stand united in opposition to them and anyone else who is a threat to public education,’ Lewis added.”