Who is with us?: Our Response to Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing and this whole damn Election

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Betsy DeVos will soon be in DC for her confirmation hearing as Education Secretary. Like many progressives, we’re deeply concerned with the nomination of DeVos and the impact it will have on our communities.

Betsy DeVos will soon be in DC for her confirmation hearing as Education Secretary. Like many progressives, we’re deeply concerned with the nomination of DeVos and the impact it will have on our communities.

We are a group of young people from 20+ states, from various family backgrounds, of all colors, united by our fierce belief that we deserve great public schools in our neighborhoods. Our student movement for quality public education is founded in an assertion of our fundamental dignity. We’re motivated by our dreams, and we know our rightful place as equals in this country.

So it’s simple for us to respond to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, and to the election of Donald Trump. We can do it with two words: Hell no.

Trump rose to power by doing bigoted, despicable things. He started with calling Mexican-Americans rapists, went on to encourage violence against Black Lives Matter protestors; made excuses for his pathetic, lecherous boasts about molesting women; and since his election, he’s hired a proud promoter of the white supremacist “Alt-Right” movement onto his staff, as well as nominating an Attorney General once rejected from a federal judgeship on account of racist behavior, and multiple men accused of domestic abuse. There is no justification for Trump’s immoral behavior.

While some education advocates are applauding Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, everyone must remember that anyone who signs on to work with this administration is endorsing and legitimizing it. It is deluded to think that we can set aside Trump’s disregard for women, Muslims, Mexican-Americans, Black Americans, and immigrants, and somehow compartmentalize a discussion about education policy. By accepting this job, Betsy DeVos has given her thumbs up to his platform, including the hateful parts.

Any education advocates who choose to rally around Betsy DeVos, perhaps operating from a “better than the alternative” mentality, can go ahead without us. We would prefer the seat remained unfilled. Anyone who professes to love children must demonstrate that love by committing their words and actions to preventing Trump from advancing his worst campaign promises.

Many people have called for folks to be “forward looking” in the wake of this election. We are forward looking — towards a day when our country respects all of us, inside and outside of the classroom.

We at Students for Education Reform Action Network will continue to organize for education reform in the cities where we work, and we will speak up loudly against every threat Trump makes.

We’ll continue to support quality school choices and high academic standards, as we always have, while simultaneously demanding that no more Black and Latino students are harassed in schools, no more Muslim women have to make a decision about the hijab and their personal safety, and no LGBTQ kids feel unsafe in the classroom.

We won’t hold our breath to see what she’ll do to confront her boss’ racism, sexism, and fear of immigrants when these issues inevitably intersect with the well-being of public school students.

And to all students: we are with you. Let’s fight for our values and our rights. Join us at Students Resisting Trump and let us know what specific issues you care about by taking this quick survey.

By Alexis Morin, SFER Founder and Executive Director