This is the text of a leaflet I will be helping to hand out at a small demonstration at the Marriott Hotel today (22nd and M NW, Washington, DC) where an unholy alliance of those opposed to public education is forming.
DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION AGAINST ATTACKS BY MICHELLE RHEE, TOM CORBETT, SCOTT WALKER, AND THE BILLIONAIRE DEVOS/PRINCE FAMILY
Universal, free, public education made America great. But it is under attack by an unholy alliance which is meeting right inside this hotel today – billionaires and their buddies who want to demolish American public education completely.
Here are the players:
- PA Governor Tom Corbett, who plans to cut funding for many PA state universities by 50%, to cut funding for K-12 public schools by $1 billion, and who refuses to tax the gas industry which is profiting mightily by polluting much of thePennsylvaniawatershed;
- WI Governor Scott Walker, whose sneaky attacks on the very idea of collective bargaining by teachers or other public employees and on open, democratic governance have made him nationally infamous;
- Ex-DC schools chief Michelle Rhee, who can’t finish a paragraph without making some sort of distortion or outright lie about her record, whose “improvements” in test scores in DCPS seem mostly to be a result of liberal use of pink erasers AFTER the students’ tests were collected, friend of many billionaires, and who has publicly praised Scott Walker’s astonishing attacks on public school teachers;
- Betsy DeVos, a billionaire and major funder for far-right-wing astro-turf organizations and think-tanks like “American Federation for Children” (AFC), whose major goal is the complete elimination of public schools. Her brother is Erik Prince, whose infamous Blackwater security goon squad’s atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan brought so much shame and hatred upon America from all over the world; and her husband is the former head of Amway, which is essentially a long-running Ponzi scheme.
Today’s meeting here at the Marriott is being organized by the AFC, and thus is paid for by the billionaires Betsy and Dick DeVos. Make no mistake: the goal of the AFC and of the DeVos/Prince family is NOT to improve public education inAmerica. Instead, their goal is to DESTROY it. They openly claim that their ultimate goal is to replace public education with a voucher system – which will mean a complete destruction of all of the hard-won reforms that have ensured a decent education for the poor, the handicapped, minorities, those whose first language isn’t English, and so on.
I say that because there are almost no decent private schools that will take the educationally or physically handicapped or the seriously emotionally disturbed. What would arise instead would be a system of unregulated, for-profit, store-front schools that offer an inferior education. In fact, a “privatized education system will cater to those students who are believed to be easier or less expensive to educate. The Heritage Foundation has expressed hope that ‘vouchers could limit how much taxpayers must pay to educate the disabled and begin a movement toward cost containment.’ A survey by the U.S. Department of Education of private schools in large inner-cities found that between 70 and 85 percent of schools would “definitely or probably” not be willing to participate in a voucher program if they were required to accept “students with special needs such as learning disabilities, limited English proficiency or low achievement.” Among religious schools, 86 percent expressed this same unwillingness to participate.” https://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/voucher-veneer
And the fact that Scott Walker, Michelle Rhee, and Tom Corbett are here shows exactly which side they are on.
What can you do?
(1) Let your friends, fellow-students, relatives and colleagues know that you defend public education and collective bargaining for all workers, and that DeVos, Rhee, Corbett, and Walker don’t speak for you.
(2) Sign the petition circulating that is demanding a REAL investigation into the mass erasures on DCPS student answer sheets. http://www.change.org/petitions/end-the-test-driven-culture-of-dc-public-schools-2