AFT Resolution

DEFEATING THE DEVOS AGENDA

WHEREAS, Betsy DeVos was not qualified to be U.S. secretary of education when she was confirmed; and

WHEREAS, over the course of the 18 months that she has had the job, she has continued to display her lack of qualification by demonstrating through her actions that her goal is to hurt, not help, public education; and

WHEREAS, even though early in her term she accepted an invitation to visit a quality public school in Van Wert, Ohio, and saw the impact those teachers have on their students and community, she has demonstrated no further interest in visiting, listening to or learning about public schools and their students, educators or communities, preferring instead to visit only private schools and charter schools that fit her “choice” agenda; and

WHEREAS, while DeVos often speaks of “choice,” she never lifts up public schools as quality choices, showing that this rhetoric of choice cloaks her true education agenda, which is to defund and destabilize public education in America, from early childhood through college; and

WHEREAS, from her confirmation hearing, where she identified the threat of grizzly bears as a reason to bring guns to schools and was unable to answer basic questions about federal education law; to her testimony on the federal budget; to her most recent sparring with a state teacher of the year over DeVos’ prioritization of private schools over public ones, she has consistently demonstrated she does not have the prerequisite knowledge of the programs that she is supposed to be overseeing; and

WHEREAS, DeVos is not respected by the general public, given that polls have found DeVos’ “very unfavorable” rating is higher than any other Cabinet member included in the polls; and

WHEREAS, the DeVos agenda of privatization and disinvestment—which is the result of an intentional, decades-long campaign to protect the economic and political power of the few against the rights of the many—has taken the form of division and expresses itself as racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia and homophobia; and

WHEREAS, with the support of the Trump administration, DeVos proposed nearly $9 billion in unprecedented cuts in education programs, including eliminating class-size reduction, after-school and professional development programs; and

WHEREAS, even the Republican-led Congress has rejected the DeVos proposal for a federal voucher program and has so far rejected her proposal to slash the federal investment in public education; and

WHEREAS, DeVos eliminated the requirements that states be required to explain to the Department of Education how they have worked with stakeholders to develop their plans to implement provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act, indicating support for top-down education reform without regard for participation from the field; and

WHEREAS, under DeVos’ leadership, the Department of Education has favored wealthy former for-profit college executives over students and has failed to execute the department’s mission to promote student access to continued and postsecondary learning, by removing regulations designed to protect borrowers, allowing student loan servicers like Navient and Nelnet to engage in deceptive practices and defraud borrowers, leading them deeper and deeper into debt; and

WHEREAS, in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of DeVos’ tenure as education secretary, the AFT and stakeholders with an interest in promoting the success of public education collected 80,000 comments from teachers, students and parents encouraging her to do her job to strengthen and support the great work happening in public schools across the country; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of those comments indicate that DeVos is failing to listen to those who educate in, learn in and send their children to public schools—the schools that 90 percent of America’s children attend:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers and our members call for Betsy DeVos to do her job as secretary of education by prioritizing and championing public schools and public school students, parents and educators; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to educate and mobilize everyone in our communities who shares our values and our support for public education, and will work to defeat the DeVos agenda because of the danger her policies and agenda pose to public education and our students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will urge federal and state lawmakers to reject the DeVos efforts to defund and destabilize public education and to instead invest in public education, including early childhood education and higher education.

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.