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Public Schools Could Struggle Under Trump's Eduction Pick Betsy DeVos

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Randi Weingarten at a 50 State Equity Strategy Rollout in 2014
U.S. Department of Education

Betsy DeVos has come under fire for her performance during the senate hearings designed to assess her qualifications for secretary of education.

She floundered when asked disability policy, test score standards and guns in schools, among other topics.

Education experts are speaking out about what the system would look like under DeVos.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, joined Boston Public Radio to talk about what danger DeVos poses to the current school system.

“What we’re going to be doing is spending a lot of time fighting just for the proposition of having public education,” she said. "We’ve never been in this situation before.”

Weingarten explained that DeVos’s track record has proven her preference for school privatization.

“Her endgame has been making money off of public schools, and frankly, privatizing,” she said. “Others have said her endgame... was to displace public schools as the center of community and replace [them] with Christian education and with the kingdom of God.”

DeVos and her husband were recorded an interview in 2001 talking about changing the public school system instead of just donating money to Christian schools.

Betsy DeVos said her hope was “to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory.”

Weingarten talked about how for-profit charter schools, another school choice championed by DeVos, can disadvantage students.

She said parents in districts with run-down public schools will choose the for-profit charter schools. The process further depletes resources for public schools, and benefits investors.

“The privatizers get a twofer. They don’t have to spend money on public schools or public school kids, and at the same time they get the funding that was going to public schools for privatization,” she said. “And in Michigan, they’ve made a lot of profit off of it.

Weingarten stressed the importance of public education, saying while some students have benefitted from charter schools and vouchers, many more have benefitted from public education.

“There are millions of kids who would not have any opportunity but for a public education, and we want to lift up not only those kids, but also, every kid who hasn’t gotten a fair shake,” she said. “We want to make sure those parents have viable neighborhood public education choices.”

Randi Weingarten is President of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. To hear her interview on BPR in its entirety, click on the audio link above.

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