In response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Betsy Devos as secretary of education, Illinois Federation of Teachers Dan Montgomery released the following statement:
“Today’s confirmation of Betsy Devos as education secretary is deeply troubling,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery, a high school English teacher. “Instead of selecting someone with a deep understanding of and proven commitment to our public schools, President Trump selected a billionaire Republican donor who wants to expand charter and private schools. Here in Illinois, voters don’t want more so-called ‘choice.’ They want fully-funded, vibrant public schools where their kids will get a well-rounded education in their own neighborhood. Yet our leaders, like Trump and Governor Bruce Rauner – to whom the DeVos family has generously contributed – are focused on promoting charters, which perform worse than regular public schools, exclude children with special needs, and aren’t held to the same standards of transparency and accountability, even though they receive public funds.
While our state is in critical need of leadership, Governor Rauner is on a press tour, claiming to care about our students while failing to enact a budget and fund the communities where their families live. It’s time to stop campaigning and start governing.”
The IFT is a statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The following statement may be attributed to AFT President Randi Weingarten:
“DeVos’ confirmation battle has a major silver lining: The public in public education has never been more visible or more vocal, and it is not going back in the shadows. This same public—from rural towns to urban centers, from liberals to conservatives—will now serve as a check and balance, and they will be fierce fighters on behalf of children. I am honored to be a soldier in that movement for children.
“It’s telling that even when Trump had full control of the legislative and executive branches, he could only get DeVos confirmed by an unprecedented tiebreaking vote by his vice president. That’s because DeVos shows an antipathy for public schools; a full-throttled embrace of private, for-profit alternatives; and a lack of basic understanding of what children need to succeed in school.
“If she wants to work with the educators who work hard every single day—in districts as diverse as McDowell County, W.Va., Detroit, and Scarsdale, N.Y.—to provide children the opportunities they deserve, we renew our invitation to have her visit America’s public schools and see the strategies that work for kids.
“But it’s more likely we’ll now hear the same trashing of public schools that the disrupters, the privatizers and the austerity hawks have used for the last two decades. That makes this a sad day for children.”