WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Party leaders said today that outrage over Senate’s confirmation of patently unqualified Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education was entirely justified — but the outrage should also be directed at Democratic Party leaders, including ex-President Obama, who worked to enact the same school privatization schemes favored by Ms. DeVos.
“Democrats can hardly claim to lead the opposition to the Trump-DeVos agenda on public schools, when they joined Republicans in facilitating charter schools, vouchers, and other programs designed to transfer public education funding to private businesses during the past two decades,” said Aaron Renaud, co-chair of the Green Party of Texas and a high school teacher.
“The movement to dismantle public education is bipartisan,” said Andrea Mérida Cuéllar, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and former school board member in the Denver Public Schools. “The last eight years under President Obama were hallmarked by the imposition of free-market reforms such as charters, ‘choice,’ vouchers, high-stakes standardized testing, union busting, mayoral control of school districts, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and the closing of public schools, especially those attended by children from poor families and children of color.”
Greens noted that Sen. Ted Kennedy was a leading sponsor of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, the premises of which were largely maintained in the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top.”
Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education under President Obama, used his office to promote Common Core, the use of standardized testing of students to evaluate teachers, and charters schools. Mr. Duncan had a history of mass teacher firings as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. (See “Obama’s Public Education Policy: Privatization, Charters, Mass Firings, Neighborhood and Family Destabilization” by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, July 1, 2009.
Mr. Duncan’s successor was John King, Jr., founder of the Uncommon Schools charter chain, with the same dedication to Common Core and standardized testing ( “The Obama Education Legacy Part 2: Obama Appoints Another Privatizing Stooge Secretary of Education” by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, Nov. 4, 2015.
Greens noted the widespread low performance and frequent closings of failed charters in many states and said that competition from charter schools and vouchers hasn’t improved ailing public schools. Instead, they weaken public schools by drawing funding away from them.
“Those who put students before private profit must take the fight to the state level. The federal government is only responsible for around 10% of education funding for states. Communities can reject neoliberal reforms and the strings attached to federal funding. Public education supporters should work to dismantle local corporate welfare programs such as tax-increment financing, which diverts tax dollars away from public schools but covers the costs of property development that builders should pay for on their own,” said Darryl! L.C. Moch, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and co-chair of the party’s Black Caucus.
“Education is the first line of defense against disinformation and alternative facts. Greens support public education not just to prepare children for employment, but also to teach them how to be citizens in a democracy. That’s more than enough reason to be skeptical of a school reform movement funded by the Broad, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Walmart Family foundations,” said Mr. Moch.