Monday, October 09, 2017

DeVos Protest Expected to Be Huge

From both Facebook pages and the Seattle Times, it is apparent that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may meet her biggest protest since she has been serving when she speaks this Friday over in Bellevue. 

The Washington Policy Center - a right-wing thinktank supported by groups like ALEC and the Koch brothers - is sponsoring her appearance for their main fundraising dinner of the year.  Neil Cavuto from FOX News is also to speak.  The event is sold-out with an expected attendance of 1,500.
This isn’t the first time that Washington Policy Center officials have invited controversial people to their galas, which bring in more than $1 million each year. Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit movement, spoke at the think tank’s dinner in Spokane in late September.
From the Times:
Outside, DeVos critics expect an equal number of protesters who see DeVos’ support of charter schools and vouchers as a threat to the nation’s public-school system. Nearly 30 organizations plan to have members there, including the state’s largest teachers union.
Across the country, DeVos’ visits to schools and events have largely followed the same pattern: The most controversial education secretary in recent history meets with supporters inside, amid protests outside.
Another group is the Equity in Education Coalition which says at their Facebook page:
As communities, we MUST keep our education systems open and available to EACH AND EVERY child! OUR COMMUNITIES are the stakeholders of our public educational system -- NOT corporations, NOT billionaires and NOT private voucher systems!

Join us as we rally AGAINST Secretary Betsy DeVos' visit to Washington State!!

Another group is the Faith Action Network.  From the Times' article:
“We don’t want to add any more fuel to the culture wars that are already happening in this country, and Secretary DeVos’ attitude toward the transgender community is just not right,” said Paul Benz, co-director of the Faith Action Network, one of the protest sponsors.
Still others protesting are Indivisible Covington, Indivisible Thurston, FUSE Washington, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO) among others.

What is quite interesting is that DeVos - a huge charter supporter - isn't scheduled to visit any Washington charter schools.  In fact:
On other trips, she has often visited charter schools, but Washington’s Charter Schools Association says it is not aware of any charter-school visits scheduled here.

In the past, that association has appeared to distance itself from DeVos. Just after she was narrowly confirmed as education secretary last February, for example, it pointed out that charter schools in Washington and Michigan, DeVos’ home state, are “worlds apart.”

The association said it isn’t affiliated with the gala and also won’t be part of the protest.
Yes, quite the dilemma for charter school advocates who love her embrace of their schools but have real reason to fear her love of vouchers.  If anything would undermine all public schools, it's vouchers.

Ken Zeichner, a professor in the University of Washington’s College of Education, a calm and valuable voice locally in talking about public education (and father of an SPS teacher) says this:

Zeicher wishes there was a way for DeVos and her critics to speak with each other.

Oddly, the Times says this - with no links:
In her visits elsewhere, students, teachers and school leaders have been able to speak with her and express any concerns they have about her ideas.
That's not what I've been reading.

Who's not going?
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal won’t be at the gala, either. He has a scheduling conflict, said spokesman Nathan Olson.
Meanwhile over at the WPC, they are huffily defending their choice of speaker.
Third, Equity in Education calls us “Koch-backed...”  This is a cheap form of McCarthyism – an attempt to smear by association.  Washington Policy Center is an independent, non-profit, state-based research and education organization.  We are entirely supported (unlike unions) by voluntary donations, from thousands of supporters across the state.  To maintain our independence to critique public agencies and programs, we do not take government money.
I tried to put this comment in at their website but it wasn't allowed; here's the link to the info:

2015 Annual Report - page 13 - President's Council - Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

And why the "we do not take government money"line. Who said they did?  Hmmm.

Here's what happened at her gig at Harvard. 

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