Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dear Lily. Re: Betsy DeVos & The NEA RA

Dear Lily:

Many news items came out of the NEA RA this year-- some pretty interesting, and some pretty routine, but I have one to cheer and one to complain about.


There will be no photo op.

After years and years of making compromises in order to keep an imaginary seat at a mythical table, this statement from you is a breath of fresh air

I understand the motivations behind Randi Weingarten's attempt to play kind-of-nice with Betsy DeVos, but I think it was a doomed and fruitless effort. DeVos has told us all along who she is and what she wants, and if I'm not going to give her credit for anything else, I will credit this-- she has not wavered significantly from those goals. She is anti-union. And she is anti-public education. After decades of working toward those goals, she is not suddenly going to have an epiphany because someone got her to set foot in a public school.

NEA can call for her removal, as they sort-of called for the removal of Arne Duncan. It's not going to much matter. And critics will note that NEA is being critical of the Trump-DeVos USED in ways that they weren't (and should have been) of the Obama-Duncan USED. But just because we didn't oppose things that we should have in the past doesn't mean that every other bad ac tor gets a pass.

The Trump-DeVos department should be opposed, and the NEA is right to do so. The fact that NEA has been wrong in the past doesn't make them any less right now. Thais administration is a threat to democratically controlled public education, a basic building block of this country. We should not be playing nice with them. Thank you for indicating that we won't. Thanks also for clarifying that we will work with any legislators who are on the right side. I hope that will be the new rule-- the union has given too many opponents of public education a free pas just because they were Democrats.

Let's Talk

Maybe you were just focusing on this aspect of DeVosian policy, which is understandable. But I've seen this careful distinction before and we need to stop making it.

I've written before that a non-profit charter is just a for-profit charter with a good money laundering system. There is no real reason to believe that n on -profit charters are any less prone to fraud, waste and general scammage that for-profits. If anything, they may be more prone because they must maintain the fiction of non-profit-hood. A non-profit operator can still employ family, still lease buildings from himself, still hire his own for-profit charter management company to run the school.

Without any sort of regulation or transparency (two things that DeVos has long been committed to opposing), non-profit charters are just as likely to waste taxpayers' public education dollars and for-profits are. It makes no sense to be critical of one and not the other. When it comes to charters, not-for-profit and for-profit is a distinction without a difference.

NEA's statement on charters is a whole other discussion (short version: too little, but at least in the right direction). Maybe I'll get to that another day, but since resolutions general have about the same weight as Presidential campaign platforms, maybe not.

Thanks again for these steps. And as always, if you decide you need to start talking to C level bloggers, my line is always open.


  1. Lily at least seems better than Randi. And I like the NEA ad for public schools that I saw recently. Hopefully it didn't cost too much.

  2. Peter, you are an A+ level blogger!