From NEW REPUBLIC:
Conservatives frame privatization as a civil rights issue, but Trump’s extreme agenda is energizing racial justice and public education advocates.
Last September, at a rally in Roanoke, Virginia, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump made a promise to black America. “I will fight to make sure every single African-American child in this country is fully included in the American dream,” he said. “That includes the new civil rights issue of our time: school choice.” This has been a familiar refrain for Trump. “At rallies last year across the country,” The New York Times reported in March, “Trump said over and over again that he would use the nation’s schools to fix what he described as failing inner cities and a virtual education crisis that most hurts black and Hispanic children. In North Carolina, he called school choice ‘the great civil rights issue of our time.’ In Florida, he declared that ‘every disadvantaged child in this country’ should have access to school choice.”
“School choice” is conservative-speak for charter schools and vouchers, both of which represent a different degree of privatization in education. Vouchers use taxpayer dollars to fund attendance at private and religious schools, while charters are publicly funded but, in many cases, privately controlled. Trump’s education policy advocates for both, and in his controversial appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, he elevated a longtime champion of the cause.
Original painting, Happy Birthday Miss Jones, with apologies to the late, great Norman Rockwell
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From VANITY FAIR:
On Monday, Trump convened his first full Cabinet meeting since taking office, gathering the heads of every major government agency for a press gaggle around the elliptical mahogany table that occupies a prominent place in the West Wing. Traditionally, the media is present only at the beginning of such meetings, during which the president makes a brief statement and a few photos are snapped before a review of the administration’s progress continues behind closed doors. Trump tried something a little different.
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From The Atlantic:
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced an unwelcome reception Wednesday as she delivered the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the university’s president, Edison Jackson, began to award DeVos an honorary degree, many students in the crowd started to boo, while faculty applauded. A mere seconds after DeVos began speaking, the room erupted in shouts. A number of students turned their backs on the speaker, who attempted to elevate her voice above the crowd’s for the majority of her time on stage.
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From The Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed school choice advocate Betsy DeVos as Education secretary by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote.
Two Republicans joined Democrats in the unsuccessful effort to derail the nomination of the wealthy Republican donor. The Senate historian said Pence’s vote was the first by a vice president to break a tie on a Cabinet nomination.
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From the Washington Post:
Like the company he founded, defense contractor Erik Prince doesn’t seem to answer to anybody.
His security business, Blackwater, has been involved in at least 195 shootings in Iraq — but it has operated outside U.S. and Iraqi laws. Similarly, when Prince made a rare public appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday, he acted as if the lawmakers were wasting his time.
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