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Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici on DeVos’ Visit to McMinnville Public High School

October 11, 2017

On October 11, 2017, US Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, visited a public high school, McMinnville High School (Oregon) as per her own request.

The day prior to her visit, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)– a former public school student and current member of the House Ed Committee– published the following statement regarding DeVos’ then-upcoming visit:

“I welcome Secretary DeVos to Oregon. It is my hope that the Secretary’s visit to McMinnville High School will demonstrate the potential of public education and inspire her to work with Congress to pass and implement policies that will lead to all our country’s public schools getting the funding and support they need to help every student succeed.

“The McMinnville School District is a leader in providing students with a well-rounded education, and was recently recognized for exceeding expectations with a significant population of low-income students. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the District’s summer meals program, which provides students with healthy meals so they are prepared to learn. And McMinnville’s career and technical education programs – including the Engineering & Aerospace Science Academy – are engaging students and preparing them for success in and after high school, regardless of what path they take. The District works hard to make sure its teachers are highly skilled and have the tools they need to focus on every student.

“I went to public schools, my children attended public schools, and when I visit public schools in Oregon I’m inspired by the dedicated educators and the students who are the future of our country. Strengthening public education was the primary reason I got involved in public service, and remains one of my top priorities. As a relative newcomer to the world of public education, Secretary DeVos would do well to educate herself about the strengths and challenges of our diverse public education system. Unfortunately, in her short tenure as head of the Education Department she has been focused on undermining our public schools, not strengthening them. She continues to advocate for privatizing public education, cutting education funding, and rolling back civil rights protections for students.

“And although I’m glad that Secretary DeVos is going to visit a thriving public school in the district I’m honored to represent, I also wish she would visit Congress. It’s been eight months since she was sworn in as Secretary of Education, but she has yet to appear before the House Education Committee. As a leader on the Committee, I’m eager to hear directly from the Secretary about her plans to strengthen public education and provide equal access and opportunity for all students regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or zip code.”

suzanne bonamici  Suzanne Bonamici

Bonamici is willing to work with DeVos; however, she expressed concerns about DeVos’ becoming US ed sec. Following DeVos’ February 07, 2017, confirmation as US ed sec, Bonamici offered the following statement:

“I’m deeply disappointed that the Senate has confirmed Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. I share the serious concerns raised by hundreds of thousands of people across the country about her paucity of experience in public education policy and her lack of commitment to strengthening public schools and enforcing critical equity protections for students. As Vice Ranking Member of the House Education Committee, I will look for opportunities to work with Secretary DeVos to deliver on the promise of an equal, world-class public education for every child in this country. But I will use every tool at my disposal to oppose efforts to privatize public education or to undermine the important role of federal policy in protecting the civil rights of all students. If this Secretary and her allies in Congress propose legislation to shift public school funding to private and religious schools, or to weaken oversight of the law that prohibits gender discrimination in education, or to ignore the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, I will be on the front lines of the fight to defend the rights of all students to high-quality public education.”

In her October 10, 2017, statement, Bonamici publicly invites (challenges?) DeVos to actually support pubic education. More than that, Bonamici calls on DeVos to communicate with the congressional committee that oversees federal ed programs. As US ed secretary, DeVos is expected to work with Congress to address the needs and direction of American education.

So far, it seems that DeVos views traditional public education as something she is only willing to touch if she can immediately wash her hands and dry them off on a school choice towel.

I wonder if DeVos regards Bonamici as just another “sycophant of the system.”

We’ll see how long it takes for DeVos to respond to Bonamici’s publicized prompting with a visit to the House Ed Committee.

betsy devos 4  Betsy DeVos


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

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From → Betsy Devos

  1. A “good friend” indeed …

  2. Bonamici defended public education like a lioness her cubs. She nearly ate DeVos for lunch.

    But let’s not forget McMinnville. Kudos to their talented educators, administration and parent volunteers. Kudos to their voters for approving a generous school bond. Kudos to the protesters who projected unity, dignity and pride.

    Lessons from McMinnville:

    Small classes make a difference.
    Parent involvement makes a difference.
    Funding schools makes a difference.
    Organized protests make a difference.

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