Betsy Devos, the subject of Wally' Glickman's satiric and melodic little video, is the death knell for American public education, which is one of the essential institutions of our democratic society.
Funny how satire can show the dark undertones of what DeVos represents.
Public education offers a guarantee to everyone in this country. It was a hard-fought victory. First, it required persuading the public to tax themselves to pay for schools for the children of the community. Second, it required separating the schools from religious institutions, which had long been the source of education. Third, it meant expanding access to all: to boys and girls, to children of all races and cultures, to children whose first language was not English, and to children with disabilities.
Former Under Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch says: " Betsy DeVos and her family have devoted millions of dollars to destroying public schools and turning the clock back by more than a century. In Michigan, no one says no to the DeVos family. They defeat legislators who dare to say no. They own the state. Is that too strong a statement? Read this blistering, "The Red Queen" a frightening article about DeVos, a woman who is ignorant of the history of public education in America and the role of public schools in our society. Her hostility to public schools should have disqualified her from consideration for this position."
From The Red Queen: "A characteristic DeVos move in Lansing traces a familiar pattern. A piece of legislation suddenly appears courtesy of a family ally. It pops up late in the session, late at night, or better still, during lame duck, when the usual legislative horse trading shifts into overdrive. So it was with a controversial bill that popped up 2013, doubling the limits for campaign contributions--a limit that no one in Michigan was wealthy enough to hit. Well almost no one. The GOP jammed the measure through, Governor Snyder signed it, and it took effect immediately. "The DeVoses then got their whole clan together and held a check writing party," recalls Jeff Irwin, a democratic state representative from Ann Arbor who was recently term limited out. "It was a love letter to the richest people in Michigan and they delivered with a huge thank you."
"The extended DeVos clan gathered on New Year's Eve 2013, writing check after check to Republican candidates and caucuses to the tune of more than $300,000, an exercise they would repeat just a few months later. Did they sip champagne as they signed? Did their hands grow weary? For the DeVoses, the ability to give even more money means that they can exert even more influence. "When you empower a billionaire family like that, you give them more power," Michigan Campaign Finance Network director Craig Mauger told me when I stopped by to see him in Lansing. Just blocks from the Capital, his office is in a part of the city that teems with the lobbyists who hold so much sway here. His building is home to not one, but two different for-profit charter operators. "The DeVoses are tilting the field and changing the structures of politics in Michigan."