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Betsy DeVos spent her four years as President Trump’s education secretary buried under a mountain of criticism. Warrior for school choice and therefore a lightning rod for the school’s attacks, what she endured at the hands of her detractors could fill an entire book.
This week, she published her rebuttal. DeVos’ new book, “Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child,” is not just a spike behind the Trump administration’s curtain, but an outright repudiation of the people and policies that persecuted it. while she was a part.
DeVos doesn’t hide his schedule. “It’s come a long way—over thirty years working in states to advance school choice, advise governors, and push for reform—to come to Washington to champion a different approach: liberty,” she writes.
For DeVos, freedom of education means freeing our public schools from the union-controlled monopoly, determined by the zip code and administered by the government. “That means empowering families to choose how and where the education dollars already earmarked for their children will be spent.”
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Opposition to his fight for educational freedom came fast and furious.
“Elizabeth Warren was one of the coldest people I’ve ever met,” writes DeVos of the Democratic senator from Massachusetts. Shortly after his appointment was announced, Warren sent him a “direction, sixteen pages letter” accusing she was totally unqualified for the job. After her confirmation hearing, Warren refused to shake her hand.
But DeVos delights in exposing Warren’s hypocrisy. “[A] decade earlier, in a book written with his daughter, Warren had agreed with me. She correctly diagnosed that the problem with American education was that parents with money already had a choice of school – moving to a good school district. Meanwhile, middle- and lower-class families were stuck in bad schools.” DeVos then quotes Warren’s book: “‘Any policy that loosens the rigid relationship between location-location-location and school-school-school would eliminate the need for parents pay an inflated price for a home. … A well-designed voucher program would fit in perfectly.'”
“In a complete turnaround,” writes DeVos, “when she needed to fawn over school union bosses, Warren forgot about middle- and lower-class families trapped in failing schools. Warren sent her son to a private school. She exercised her choice. But she fought my nomination because I believed all parents should have the same choice.”
Senator Cory Booker, DN.J, the former mayor of Newark, was another, more personal disappointment for DeVos.
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Before he sold out to unions and opposed school choice, Booker was a notoriously pro-school mayor of Newark before he was elected to the Senate in 2012. “Cory and I [served] together on pro-choice organizing councils in the 2000s,” reports DeVos. They collaborated and supported each other in various reform efforts.
“Cory was a valuable voice for the school choice movement. He spoke on behalf of Americans who were being harmed by the current system. He was aggressive and direct about all the failed promises poor families received,” DeVos wrote.
But when it came time to vote for DeVos for Trump’s cabinet, Booker chimed in with his party to vote “no.”
“I’ve been involved in politics for a long time. I know what a politician can be… shall we say, morally malleable,DeVos said. “But Cory’s betrayal hit him deeply. He didn’t just turn his back on me, he turned his back on millions of kids relying on someone like him to do what’s right.”
DeVos details Booker’s pro-union turnaround: “He never said my name. attributed to the school choice movement [eight months earlier]. Even for Washington, it was a breathtaking turnaround.”
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Hovering over these and other “morally malleable” politicians are the all-powerful teachers’ unions, which DeVos portrays as one of, if not the most powerful special interest group in Democratic politics, perhaps even in the United States. “For me [Cory’s ‘no’ vote] he was the embodiment of what happens when a party is controlled by a special interest group… I was disappointed and hurt by Cory’s actions, but not surprised. He was running for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination. He could not betray the well-funded and well-organized interest groups that held his political future in the palm of their hands — and held our children hostage to their own interests. interested cause.”
The unions also have some Republicans in the palm of their hands.
DeVos tells the story of Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska who in 2010 faced a Tea Party challenger in her re-election bid. To ward him off, the teachers’ unions threw their weight behind Murkowski. The Tea Party candidate won the primaries, but Murkowski prevailed as the registered candidate in the general election with the help of the unions. They supported her again in 2016, and in 2017 Murkowski was one of two Republicans to oppose DeVos’s nomination.
After his confirmation, DeVos traveled to Alaska at Murkowski’s invitation, only to get up.
“I was hoping that a trip to Alaska would create some goodwill with Senator Murkowski. But from the beginning, his team sought to control my itinerary, pushing traditional public schools and union offices,” she recalls. “In the end, despite her invitation, Senator Murkowski didn’t seem to really want me in Alaska. She didn’t even show up for a visit she had arranged for the two of us at a school at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks. she was still in Anchorage because her flight had been delayed because of ash from volcanic activity that limited visibility around Denali. Sorry, they said, she couldn’t join me. But a few hours later, Murkowski was seen at the airport from Fairbanks getting a place to leave the state. She was in town the whole time.”
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DeVos spends many pages of her book describing what she believes union-controlled politicians are allowing and supporting: plummeting test scores, bloated budgets, bureaucrats dead weight and toxic resumes. Over the past two years, while millions of children have suffered from prolonged and unnecessary school closures, DeVos believes parents have woken up to this grim reality.
For those still sleeping, “Hostages No More” is the wake-up call.