WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin presidents join Democrats in blasting Walker’s latest TV ad and DeVos’ visit to state

WEAC President Ron Martin joined the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Tuesday in a media call in response to visits from U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to the state. In discussing education policies, several speakers blasted Walker’s latest TV ad.

“I’m an eighth grade social studies teacher who has a long career dedicated to students,” Martin said. “It’s unbelievable that Betsy DeVos, who has dedicated her life to dismantling public schools, would show up in Wisconsin for a photo op.

“In Wisconsin, we believe all children have a right to a top-notch public education. Betsy DeVos doesn’t share that vision with us.

“Secretary DeVos, President Trump, Scott Walker – they’re all politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Photo stunts and millions of dollars of slick ads won’t change that fact.”

Kim Kohlhaas, president of the American Federation of Teachers – Wisconsin, echoed those sentiments:

“Betsy DeVos is the worst education secretary of our lifetime,” Kohlhaas said. “Unfortunately, Scott Walker is also the worst education governor of our lifetime. This is more than a funding issue, this is a values issues.

“You cannot claim to be the ‘education governor’ when 40 other states are investing in public education at a stronger pace than Wisconsin,” Kohlhaas said. “You cannot claim to be ‘education governor’ when classroom sizes have gone up, programs have been cut and positions cannot be filled.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairwoman Martha Laning said: “It isn’t surprising that Secretary DeVos is here in Wisconsin today, because she and Scott Walker have the exact same approach to education funding. They both support policies that have diverted taxpayer dollars to private, unaccountable schools while starving our public schools.”

“Today Scott Walker introduced a 60 second ad focusing on the Three Lakes School District, which due to lack of state funding nearly closed last year,” Laning said. “Their community passed a $15 million school referendum to keep the school open. So it is tough to see Scott Walker taking credit for a program that his state funding decisions nearly destroyed.

“Wisconsin can’t afford any more of Walker’s disastrous policies, and that’s why voters are ready for a new governor who will have a positive vision to expand healthcare and educational opportunity. Democrats are ready to lead Wisconsin to a better future for all.”

From One Wisconsin Now:

Worst Governor on Public Education Hosts Worst Secretary of Dept. of Education

MADISON, Wis. – The worst governor for public education in state history, Scott Walker, is hosting the worst Secretary of the Department of Education in American history, Betsy DeVos, today as she visits a technical college and a public middle school in Wisconsin. “These two deserve each other,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross.

This is an 11.0101(10)(b)(1) communication with WEAC members.

Trump-DeVos cuts will ‘really hurt our public schools,’ Monona Grove teacher says

The cuts proposed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “are going to really hurt our public schools,” Monona Grove teacher Kelly Sullivan says.

Sullivan, interviewed by Workers Independent News, says the school privatization movement embodied by Trump and DeVos is taking badly need resources away from public education.

“There are a lot of people who are getting into this education privatization movement that are very dangerous because they are all about making profit off of students instead of  being about the value of learning and the value of helping kids learn,” Sullivan says.

“It’s really important to understand  that we do have some challenges in education, but cutting the resources and funding  isn’t helping us fix those challenges.”

Listen to Kelly Sullivan’s comments:


The Trump-DeVos budget slashes public education funding by almost 14 percent and eliminates 22 programs, including teacher training and after-school programs. Public school educators throughout Wisconsin – and the country – are expressing similar concerns.

“For Trump and DeVos, education means only one thing: vouchers, which do nothing to provide students with the support, resources and time to learn they need,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade teacher.

La Crosse teacher John Havlicek said increased funding for vouchers is especially concerning. “That’s throwing bad money after bad, after bad, after bad. We’re going to take a program that doesn’t work and continue to expand it and keep saying it’s going to work.”

“You have to quit stealing from public schools to find private education,” Havlicek said.

Listen to John Havlicek’s comments:

NEA’s Eskelsen García says DeVos is ‘throwing students under the bus’

In testimony before Congress Wednesday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to say she would deny federal funding to private schools that discriminate against certain classes of students. That, and other responses from DeVos to questioning by members of a House appropriations committee during a review of the Trump administration’s education budget proposal, prompted NEA President Lily Eskelsen García to tweet that DeVos was “throwing students under the bus.”

Eskelsen García tweeted that DeVos is still unqualified and still using alternative facts. “We should invest in what makes schools great, the things that build curiosity and instill a love of learning,” she tweeted.

The Trump-DeVos budget would slash the federal investment in public education programs by a whopping 13.6 percent for the upcoming fiscal year, eliminates at least 22 programs, and cuts $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives overall.

During questioning, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, challenged DeVos on private school vouchers, noting that Milwaukee’s school voucher program has resulted in years of failure. When he pressed DeVos on whether the federal government would hold recipients of public money accountable, DeVos punted, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times documented this exchange:

“Wisconsin and all of the states in the country are putting their ESSA plans together,” said DeVos, referring to the Every Student Succeeds Act, a school accountability law. “They are going to decide what kind of flexibility … they’re allowed.”

“Will you have accountability standards?” Pocan asked.

“There are accountability standards,” DeVos said. “That is part of the ESSA legislation.”

That’s not true. ESSA’s regulations state that the law’s accountability rules do not apply to private schools.

Earlier, Eskelsen García released a statement saying the Trump-DeVos budget “is a wrecking ball aimed at our nation’s public schools.”

“Their budget shows how dangerously ill-informed they are about what works for students and in public education. Their reckless and irresponsible budget would smash the aspirations of students, crush their dreams, and make it difficult for them to go to college and get ahead.

“We should invest in what makes schools great, the things that build curiosity and instill a love of learning. That is what every student deserves and what every parent wants for his or her child. It should not depend on how much their parents make, what language they speak at home, and certainly, not what neighborhood they live in.”

“Even worse, DeVos and Trump have made failed private school vouchers a cornerstone of their budget. Vouchers do not work and they take scarce funding away from public schools — where 90 percent of America’s students enroll — and give it to private schools that are unaccountable to the public. Spending money on voucher programs means denying students the opportunities they deserve in their neighborhood public schools.

“With this budget, Trump and DeVos want to slash billions of dollars from public education, but it’s more than education programs. These deep cuts will harm students and will have a direct impact in the classroom, but these cuts will also reach far beyond the schoolhouse doors. These budget cuts will hurt every working family in America. And that’s why we have to call on Congress to reject the Trump budget.”

Read more about DeVos’ appearance before Congress:

Betsy DeVos would not agree to bar private schools receiving federal money from discriminating

President Trump’s budget proposal includes deep cuts to education but generously funds a new push for school vouchers. When pressed by representatives at a House appropriations subcommittee hearing on the budget, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declined to say if, when or how the federal government would step in to make sure that private schools receiving public dollars would not discriminate against students.

Trump’s plan to slash federal education funding is ‘reckless and wrong for students,’ NEA says

Responding to reports that the Trump administration plans to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García called President Trump’s priorities “reckless and wrong for students and working families.”

According to the Washington Post, the cuts would come from eliminating at least 22 programs, including “$1.2 billion for after-school programs that serve 1.6 million children, most of whom are poor, and $2.1 billion for teacher training and class-size reduction.”

“This budget once again illustrates why the American people have no confidence in Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos when it comes to education,” Eskelsen García said. “They just don’t get it. … If enacted, the Trump budget will crush the dreams of students, deprive millions of opportunities, and make it harder for students to access higher education.

“Members of Congress need to listen to their constituents who do not want to slash public schools in order to spend millions of dollars on private schools. There is a responsibility to provide great public schools for every student in America. We believe improving public schools requires more money, not less, and public money should only be used to help public schools. We urge Congress to reject the Trump-DeVos budget proposal and fight for opportunity for all students.”

Read the Post story:

Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice

Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post.


Public outcry denies Betsy DeVos mandate despite Senate approval of her nomination

From the National Education Association

Eskelsen García: The growing opposition to the Trump-DeVos agenda is here to stay

Despite nationwide public outcry over the nomination of Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Senate Tuesday approved the controversial pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education. Weeks’ long resistance followed by two high-profile Republican senators who announced their opposition to DeVos almost sank her chances of becoming the next education secretary.

Educators across the nation spearheaded the opposition initially but the chorus against her nomination quickly mushroomed and took on a life of its own immediately following her confirmation hearing. NEA’s historic campaign rallied parents, students, educators, civil rights groups, and other public education advocates — both Republicans and Democrats — to email more than 1 million letters and make more than 80,000 phone calls to senators in Washington and flooded their offices back home. DeVos also failed to convince key Republican Senators that she was ready to do the job for which she was nominated. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) broke ranks with their own party and voted against DeVos.

The following can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“Americans across the nation drove a bipartisan repudiation of the Trump-DeVos agenda for students and public education. Today’s outcome marks only the beginning of the resistance. Students, educators, parents, civil rights and special education advocates—along with millions of Americans—are speaking loud and clear: we are here to stay…we will protect public education.

“No other Trump cabinet nominee garnered the level of public opposition as Betsy DeVos and no other time in our nation’s history has a Vice President of the United States stepped in to cast the deciding vote on a nomination. More to the point, no nominee has united Republicans and Democrats the way DeVos has.

“The level of energy is palpable. We are going to watch what Betsy DeVos does. And we are going to hold her accountable for the actions and decisions she makes on behalf of the more than 50 million students in our nation’s public schools.

“America is speaking out. Betsy DeVos needs to listen. The hundreds of thunderous rallies, the flood of phone calls, and the deluge of millions of emails in opposition to the DeVos’ nomination deny the Trump administration a mandate to take over our public schools.

“We thank the senators — Republicans and Democrats — who said no to Betsy DeVos, and, instead, listened to the voices of students, parents, and educators. We look forward to working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to continue to protect and strengthen our public schools and to ensure equal access to a quality public education for all students no matter their ZIP code.”

Green Bay teacher angered over DeVos’ lack of understanding about special education

Nearly a million educators, of all political allegiances, have spoken out against the DeVos nomination by making calls and writing letters to their Senators.

Take_Action_On_DeVosEdVotes.com interviewed some of them, including E-Ben Grisby, a special education teacher in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who is also a Republican.

“It angered me that she could be in charge of a federal education office and not even understand a law that is there to protect some of our most vulnerable students,” Grisby said, referring to DeVos’s inability to answer questions about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during her Senate confirmation hearing.

“How would she deal with equity and accessibility for students—or are those just non-issues to her?” Grisby wonders.

He encourages all educators, regardless of political affiliation, to question her nomination.

“The issue of who should serve as our next Secretary of Education goes beyond politics, this is about ethics,” said Grisby.

Read more:

Republican educators say DeVos nomination for Secretary of Ed violates GOP values – Education Votes

By Amanda Litvinov Tell Your Senators: Vote NO on Betsy DeVos for Ed Secretary Click here › Cathy Boote, a retired middle school art teacher from Holland, Michigan, has more than a passing familiarity with Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education.

Eskelsen García helps U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan launch Public Education Caucus

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joined U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) and other public education supporters Tuesday to announce the launch of a Congressional Public Education Caucus to support the goals of public education under Donald Trump’s presidency and to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.

“Making large political contributions to Donald Trump and countless other politicians and organizations aimed at dismantling public education does not count as a qualification for the position of the head of the Department of Education,” Pocan said.

“Betsy DeVos is a danger to students, especially our most vulnerable students,” Eskelsen García said.

According to HuffingtonPost.com, Rep. Mark Takano (D-California), who spent over two decades as a public school teacher and is part of the caucus, said at the press conference that DeVos’ lack of experience gives her an “incredibly narrow view of public education in America.”

“She will insert a profit motive into children’s education that will cripple our public schools and punish the millions of students who attend them every day,” Takano said. “Betsy DeVos will create a race to the bottom line.”

Pocan and Takano were joined on by several House Democrats along with Eskelsen García, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and Council of Great City Schools legislative services director Jeff Simering.

Here is a collection of web stories, Facebook posts and Tweets covering the news conference:

Tell Senator Baldwin to vote NO on Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary

Betsy DeVos, President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, has no experience in public education and has a long history of supporting policies that harm public schools.

It’s urgent that we are on the record calling for a secretary of education who actually supports public education.

Click Here Now To Send a Message

We need an experienced, qualified secretary of education who actually wants to strengthen and improve all public schools.

Open Letter: A Commitment to Student Success in Public Schools

With the recent nomination of Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, the nation is entering dangerous, uncharted territory. For the first time, our secretary of education could be someone whose sole “qualification” for the job is the two decades she has spent attempting to dismantle the American public school system.

One way you can stand up for public education right now is by signing this open letter that states in part:

“We expect our elected leaders and policymakers, regardless of political affiliation, to fundamentally believe in and value a strong and inclusive public education system that ensures every student can succeed, no matter their ZIP code.”