A teacher asks Georgia’s senators: Why did you support Betsy DeVos?

Despite her confirmation Tuesday, Betsy DeVos is still facing protests. Protesters gathered outside Jefferson Middle School in Washington today as DeVos paid her first visit as education secretary in a bid to mend fences with educators after a bruising confirmation battle. (AP Photo/Maria Danilova)

Georgia teacher Lawrence J. Burns shared a letter he sent to Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue about their endorsement of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education:

I am deeply disappointed to learn you voted in the affirmative to make Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education. I had contacted you previously and asked that you not support Ms. DeVos. I will not rehash my previous correspondence. Suffice to say you voted to affirm an abundantly unqualified individual. The fact it took a historic tie-breaking vote by Vice-President Pence to affirm Ms. DeVos speaks for itself.

I teach AP European History here in Georgia. Allow me to draw a parallel from history that illuminates, I believe, the folly of your vote. One of the great questions historians have wrestled with over the centuries is the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE. As with most events in history, there are numerous theories as to why. One of the things that weakened the empire was that the vaunted Roman legions, in many instances, became more loyal to their individual commanders, as opposed to the Roman Empire itself. Like many of the Roman legions, you chose to be loyal to the Republican Party, as opposed to your country.

I find it ironic Mr. Trump won the presidency with the campaign slogan “America First.” As a Republican senator, in affirming Ms. DeVos, you most certainly did not put America first. You simply cannot make any intellectual polemic to justify your vote. This was a pure political vote on your part. A vote, mind you, about America’s schoolchildren.

In 1943, when patriotic fervor was at its apex during World War II, the Supreme Court rose up and did the right thing when they ruled public schools could not force children to rise and say the Pledge of Allegiance—the children involved were Jehovah’s Witnesses. The case was West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. In the waning days of the Watergate scandal, it was Republican leadership in Congress that rose up and told Republican President Richard Nixon for the good of the country, he simply had to step down.

I share both of these with you to illustrate how a Republican Congress and the Supreme Court rose up and did the right thing. In the case of the Republican Congress, they put country before party in opposing Mr. Nixon.

It was with great difficulty I was able to get through to your office this past weekend. The volume of calls leads me to believe I am not the only constituent disappointed by your vote. As such, I would like to make a couple of requests of you.

First, would it be possible for me to obtain copies of the tally sheets compiled by your staff in reference to the DeVos confirmation? Secondly, would you be willing to participate in a public debate with me over your vote. I would be willing to participate at the venue of your choice here in Georgia.

 

Reader Comments 0

142 comments
AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

A preview of the Madame Devos de 'Echouer plan. Thx to Billin for the link.


"While the idea was to foster academic competition, the unchecked growth of charters has created a glut of schools competing for some of the nation’s poorest students, enticing them to enroll with cash bonuses, laptops, raffle tickets for iPads and bicycles. Leaders of charter and traditional schools alike say they are being cannibalized, fighting so hard over students and the limited public dollars that follow them that no one thrives."  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/for-detroits-children-more-school-choice-but-not-better-schools.html?_r=0

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

“The point was to raise all schools,” said Scott Romney, a lawyer and board member of New Detroit, a civic group formed after the 1967 race riots here. “Instead, we’ve had a total and complete collapse of education in this city.”

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

At the same time, the law included a provision that seemed to benefit Mr. Huizenga, whose company profits from buying buildings and renting them back to the charters it operates. Earlier that year he had lost a tax appeal in which he argued that a for-profit company should not have to pay taxes on properties leased to schools. The new law granted for-profit charter companies the exemption he had sought.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

To all of you DeVos haters: you cannot, with integrity, endorse the status quo.


It is always the same story; MY school, or MY students, or MY system, is the exception.


Georgia is near the bottom of a declining national public education system. THAT is an indisputable fact.

Mark Corson
Mark Corson

@RoyalDawg lead by Republicants in Atlanta.  Gut and Cut has been the Moto. Lots of opening this year, you should apply.  

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@RoyalDawg

Hey Dawg. Were you ever able to locate any spending, hiring, personnel, info on your own charter school, or did they just pat you on the head and tell you to run along and let the big boys worry about it? 

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@AvgGeorgian @RoyalDawg Below Average, you have no idea who you are talking to. I have access to enough information to know you are a blithering idiot, basking in your delusion of intelligence and knowledge.


I AM the big boy-

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@Mark Corson @RoyalDawg But you avoid the real question- the US education system is SO good that it doesn't need reform?


The "Republicants" (real mature, by the way) had a plan to help the failing schools on the November ballot, but the NEA convinced Georgia public teachers to protect their own hides and screw the poor students in the worst systems. I don't think the NEA is a "Republicant" subsidiary.

bu22
bu22

The gist of this letter.  "I don't like DeVos.  How could you support her???"  Now maybe her "previous correspondence" had good reasons for opposing DeVos, but this letter serves no purpose other than allowing the author to vent.  Not sure why Maureen would post something like this.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Democrats in general and progressives/liberals in particular are in uproar/outrage/stir the pot mode because it is their only strategy.

Marlene is following orders.

Sue Nunn Ellis
Sue Nunn Ellis

They could care less what happens to our schools. They just vote the party line and enjoy the power.

Jedthrow88
Jedthrow88

The department of education has been around since 1980 and public school overall are worse now than 30 years ago.  We need students to learn skills for jobs of today and tomorrow, not yesterday.  It’s time for a change and I hope Devos is the one to implement it.  Poor and middle income families need vouchers and school choice so they are not enslaved to failing schools and the whims of teachers that only look out for their interest. We deserve better schools with our tax dollars and it should not be used solely in support of a public teaching monopoly and mafia which is what you have become.It’s a shame people move into certain neighborhoods based on the school their children can attend and the price of housing reflects the school academic reputation and performance.

Everybody need to be accountable especially teachers.  Your product takes 12 years to blossom or wilt and they are humans depending on your guidance to become lifelong learners.  There is nothing wrong with school choice, if you had the chance, you would do the same with your child.

TheCentrist
TheCentrist

I dare you to spend a week as a substitute teacher. Besides if there is only one school in area, and real private have selective enrollment and maximum for student populations.

Carolyn Meaders
Carolyn Meaders

They are clearly not representing the opinions and interests of Georgians. Tell me again why you elected them????

PITTFAN
PITTFAN

Methinks if you're going to stand up for public schooling that you might want to make sure your sign is correct.  You look like an idiot!

Wanderboyd
Wanderboyd

"same on u Mike" Wow, I guess we had better keep the status quo if those folks are making up those signs!


cristalle
cristalle

As a substitute teacher who worked in Gwinnett County for several years, it would be dishonest to pretend like there are no problems with the public schools. However many of these problems are a reflection of the ills of our society. Which makes me feel even stronger that Betsy Devos won't have a clue, only an ill informed opinion.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@LittleSatillaPirate That's what I like, good, mature, political dialogue.


That comment sums up the entire attitude of the left. Unfortunately, a majority of people in a majority of states is now, per them, idiots.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@Lexi3 @RoyalDawg @LittleSatillaPirate The Democrats in Washington have NO plans other than to follow an Alinsky plan and destroy the Trump administration with lies and distortions. It is an all or nothing bet- if there aren't enough ignorant people to believe them and their wholly-owned subsidiary, the media, it will destroy the democrat party for good.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I would place money on the fact that both Lexi3 and RoyalDawg are either both businessmen or attorneys who handle business interests, and I am no gambler.

Their arguments remain hollow to me because the students I taught made significant progress and the predominantly black school in DeKalb County, where I spent the last half of my educational career as a school wide leader in improving all students' reading skills, improved remarkably.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Dear, numbers don't lie. The system is getting worse every year, your lame anecdotes not withstanding.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

RoyalDawg, your condescending and sexist "Dear" as you address me, above, informs me that you are not an enlightened person. Therefore, understand that I do not value your opinion, nor will I in the future unless you mature considerably.

If you have data comparing increase or decrease in the DCSS then give a link or don't post.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

MES, I see you are still in coward mode. Once again you are exposed.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

And how many years has it been since you retired?

I have observed the DeKalb Schools deteriorate for the last 29 years, which is only one year short of full retirement for a teacher. Things have gone from bad to much worse. My wife taught in DeKalb for two years while she held her nose, then transferred to Cobb to finish her career.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@MaryElizabethSings  Only stating the logically obvious since you decline to answer the simple question I put to you. By memory, you once posted that you retired in 2003; that's 14 years ago. Correct me if I'm wrong. Since you've been retired a long time it is fair to say you are long out of touch with today's reality.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I do not value your thought processes enough to respond to your inquiries of me, BB. It is not required that I answer every poster who asks me a question or who comments on my posts.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

That's a lame excuse. Your reason is that you don't want to reveal how long you have been out of the profession and how flawed your opinions are.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@MaryElizabethSings MaryBeth, I don't care what the DCSS has been doing, but considering the Governor had to remove the entire Board, I wouldn't assume improvement. The DCSS is a piece of a system that covers all of Georgia and the US, and you refuse to address my question:


Is the US education system successful, to the point that it doesn't need to be reformed? Will you defend and support its history?


If yes, you are in denial; if no, you need to be quiet and get out of the way of people who are willing to at least TRY something new.


I suggest that it would be hard to try something that would make a complete failure perform more poorly.


I would love to see your answer.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I am a widow and a mother, not a spinster. At least be honest with yourself as to why you address a woman as, "Dear."

Moreover, study the visionary and pragmatic plans for the present DCSS by its new Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steve Green. Dr. Green has built a plan for the D CSS that may become a model for public schools throughout Georgia. Also, study the "Community" model for public schools shared in the state's Capitol by state Sen Vincent Fort. It is close in design to that of Dr. Green's.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@MaryElizabethSings Sorry, but reference to Fort eliminates you as a potential rational thinker.


And you continue to avoid the question- is the public school SYSTEM performing well enough for you to support it and propose leaving it alone? The status quo has had YEARS to make improvements with no success (and don't yell "inadequate funding").

Lexi3
Lexi3

Interesting that the writer gushes about the Harlan Fiske Stone WWII time court. The same court embraced the wartime internment of Japanese US citizens, in Korematsu v. US, 323 US 214 (1944). Joining the majority was uber liberal William O Douglas. We need more government control of education like we need more taxes and fewer taxpayers.

JB-
JB-

@Lexi3 How is that comment relevant? How is this more or less government? Federal income taxes are at their lowest in decades and most other taxes are controlled at the state and local level.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

The opponents of Mrs. DeVos all build their cases on a false foundation- that the current education system works and we therefore need to have leadership that will continue it, or at most tinker with it. To proud public education veterans like MaryElizabethSings, I say that you have been involved in a FAILING system. Was YOUR local system doing better than the average? Perhaps so.


I see you advocating to leave your local system alone and to hell with the students who are not being educated. I believe that the majority want the overall SYSTEM to be overhauled because its production is not acceptable.


Taken as a whole, the US education system is getting worse as the years pass. If your local system is doing OK, it is probably going to continue to do so whatever the national changes, but those students NOT in your local community deserve a chance too.


I suggest that you are too close to the forest to see the trees. That is why someone like Mrs. DeVos was an excellent choice.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@RoyalDawg


All the public school advocates need is a lot more money and another couple hundred years to prove it's the best model for turning out proper citizens of the world. 

Angie Baucom Powell
Angie Baucom Powell

AJC help this person meet with DeVoS. Maybe he can intern at the state department and let the rest of us know what it's really like up there. With so many people against DeVos... Who absolutely know she's going to ruin schools and ours kids lives... ❓Exactly what's your plan to fix the system then? So much bashing Trump, DeVos and Senators... What do you KNOW should be done for schools to get them ALL being successful? And why...During times past, since we've been "failing" ...have you not come to the forefront to protest and contact Senators (even your board members) about education? Unions led the charge, (like NEVER EVER before) so you felt like you'd get on board? No there's not a union in GA, but PAGE with its 90,000 members (not all those teachers were against DeVos...just their names are on a member's list... So PAGE did not speak for all) made it clear they stood against DeVos. I don't think they polled their members to see numbers of teachers for & against DeVos before putting out a statement. Hmmm? Wonder how many were for DeVos? I'm sure most would say against her... But I'd be willing to bet money they'd say that simply because they've been led to believe she's against public schools and for vouchers. And teachers...we've been told again and again that isn't what public schools need, it will harm public school. So? With so many "education" people saying that...it must be true, but Is it? There's compelling research stating choice is best, and as much research saying it isn't. It's a debate to continue. I'm not sure we will ever crown a winner unless school choice is put into play in a lot more areas. And there again, schooling isn't a "one size fits all." It doesn't work that way classroom to classroom and certainly it's been shown the "cookie cutter" approach isn't working state to state. A sign in this picture says "We love our public schools." I absolutely love ours in our small town, but I know many parents who hate the school in their towns (small & bigger ones). So? What's the answers for them and their children...this obviously hasn't been corrected prior to DeVos appointment. She's going in to fix problems that already exist. Is she creating the problem? No, It's already there. So maybe her solution will fail just like all the solutions before her? ...Which doesn't mean she is responsible for failing schools in this country. And although we know we currently have a problem, people are saying she's going ruin kids lives? Education "red tape" has seriously become increasingly worse in last 20 years. Teachers and administrators jump through so many hoops they can't get to the real job of educating ALL students. It's to rush through material to get to test time. Somebody at the top needs to spend some time "in the trenches" if they want to know what's truly wrong with education. But they'll also see what's right with education!!! There's a lot of things right with education in our country!!

Cassie Thomason Brown
Cassie Thomason Brown

Well, did she get an answer besides the standard form letter that most received.