NEA President Lily Eskelsen García released the following statement, demanding that Betsy DeVos cancel her political events in Alabama, Ohio, and Arizona, and instead focus on helping parents, health experts, and educators reopen schools safely.
“No one wants to be back in the classroom with our students more than educators. We love our students, our public schools, and our communities, and that is why we need to do this right. Unfortunately, America continues to see how Betsy DeVos, the least qualified Secretary of Education in American history, is failing America’s public school students, parents, and educators. Rather than working on a plan to reopen schools safely this fall, DeVos is holding closed-door political events for her ideological allies this week.
“The health and safety of our students, families and educators must be the primary driver of when it is safe to re-open school buildings. To make that happen, we need leadership and resources from the federal government. Sadly, all we are getting from Betsy DeVos is empty threats and failed privatization schemes.
“Since March, when teachers and students transitioned—practically overnight—to online distance learning, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education has been largely absent. During the months that school buildings have been shuttered, DeVos has largely ignored the nation’s 51 million public school students, instead working to further her extreme agenda to privatize public education and divert public school dollars into unaccountable and often discriminatory private schools. Rather than working to get laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to the 8-12 million students—largely from Native, Black, and Hispanic communities—who don’t have the resources to participate in tele-learning, DeVos has spent her time trying to block college resources for DREAMERs and other undocumented students. And as the economic crisis puts nearly 2 million educators’ jobs at risk, DeVos is doing nothing to ensure that the teachers and education support professionals our students need will be there this fall.
“This weekend in interviews on Fox News and CNN, DeVos showed us that she can’t answer even the most basic questions about getting students and educators back in the classroom safely while confirming that her department has no plans or guidance to help states and school districts reopen.
“That is why Betsy DeVos needs to cancel her events for the Federalist Society. She needs to stop playing politics with students’ lives and futures, and put aside her ideological quest to privatize public schools. DeVos needs to listen to the educators who know the names of the kids in the classroom. She needs to finally do her job, by helping parents, health experts, and educators reopen schools responsibly and safely, starting by calling on the Senate to get schools the resources we need.”