|Labor's Gotta Play Hardball to Win!
Showdown on West Coast Docks: The Battle of Longview
click on photo for article
Chicago Plant Occupation Electrifies Labor
click on photo for article
Betsy DeVos: Trump’s Voucher Vulture
By Class Struggle Education Workers/UFT
Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have declared war on public education.
JANUARY 14 – Who is Betsy DeVos? Trump's pick for Education Secretary is an extremely wealthy former head of the Republican party in Michigan who is a zealot of vouchers and privately run, publicly financed charter schools. Her goal is to abolish public education outright.
She is married to Dick DeVos, heir to the family fortune derived from the totalitarian Amway Corporation. Amway (for the American Way) is a giant Ponzi scheme which uses its sales force as a private political-religious army and funds far-right groups, making the Koch brothers look like bleeding-heart liberals.
Betsy is from another wealthy Michigan family, the Princes, whose money came from their auto parts corporation. Her brother, Erik Prince, is the founder of Blackwater, the mercenary killer-elite “contractors” notorious for gunning down Iraqi civilians with reckless abandon. Along with extreme right-wing ideology, Betsy and Erik both seek to finance privatization schemes with public money.
DeVos bases her philosophy on Milton Friedman, the apostle of “free market” capitalism, who declared: “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a market system.” Friedman was an advisor to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and first implemented his education policies under that bloody regime.
Hearings start next week on Trump’s Ed Sec nominee. Confirmation is guaranteed. With Republicans in control of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House, the Betsy DeVos agenda will soon determine national educational policy.
Betsy DeVos was central to the near-destruction of public education in Detroit. The schools were taken over by the state and starved of money so that their physical condition was marked by broken windows, rats everywhere. They treated the schools like landlords trying to drive out tenants. Then they were massively taken over by for-profit charters, and have sunk into chaos.
DeVos also played a key role in pushing through a union-busting “right-to-work” law.
Donald Trump’s voucher vulture DeVos represents a mortal threat to teachers unions and to public education overall. The leadership of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association know this. But like a deer staring at the headlights of an onrushing car, they are paralyzed.
The politics of the AFT and NEA tops, like almost all union leaders in the U.S., are summed up in the phrase class collaboration. They chain the unions to the parties of capital, particularly the Democrats. But like the tango, it takes two to class-collaborate, and the Trump Republicans aren’t interested in that dance.
What it will take to defeat DeVos, Trump and the rest of the privatizers and union-busters is hard class struggle. Last month United Federation of Teachers president Mulgrew predicted that in 2017 “it’s going to be war.” He got that right. In recent editorials Mulgrew warned that NYC schools stand to lose half a billion dollars in Title I federal funds which the Republicans have their eye on to finance vouchers.
But it's not just the Republicans. “Democrats for Education Reform,” is a powerful lobby bankrolled by Wall Street financiers. Hillary Clinton has been closely tied to the corporate education “reformers” since she was on the board of the anti-union Walmart corporation in Arkansas. And Barack Obama’s administration has used billions in federal money to push charters, standardized testing and punitive teacher “evaluations.”
All in all, Betsy DeVos is a fitting successor to the Democratic charterizers, from Obama's basketball pal Arnie Duncan to John King. And don't forget Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who got to be mayor of Chicago by bashing the teachers union and has kept it up ever since. The difference is that while the Clinton/Obama Democrats want to undermine public education from within with corporatizing “reforms,” the Trump Republicans want to tear it down altogether.
Efforts to outright privatize the public schools have repeatedly failed, from the Edison Schools (which went bankrupt) to DeVos’s campaign from Michigan to Pennsylvania and Indiana using their millions to promote vouchers by hook or crook. But we have to defeat all the schemes to milk public schools for private profit, which threaten our children’s education and working people everywhere.
Corporatizing and privatizing “education reform” is backed by both parties of capital. To defeat the bipartisan capitalist assault on public education we need to take the schools out of the hands of Republican and Democratic politicians. Class Struggle Education Workers fights for teacher-student-parent-worker control of the schools. To accomplish this we need to oust the labor bureaucrats, who have sold out hard-won union gains, and break with the Democrats to build a class-struggle workers party.
Schools Must Be A Sanctuary