Filipino Youth Against Betsy DeVos’ Appointment as Secretary of Education
Anakbayan-USA Statement | February 22, 2017
“In November 2016, Anakbayan USA launched the Take Back Our Education campaign nationally to fight for free education and resist U.S. intervention and wars of aggression abroad. The Trump administration is already proving itself to be a direct target of this campaign. Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and his plans to increase military spending must be opposed.
Public education in the U.S. has suffered from decades of failed neoliberal policies. Budget cuts have deteriorated the K-12 system and tuition increases have made higher education unaffordable for working class families and youth. The ultimate aim of the richest 1% is to completely defund public education and transform it into a profit generating scheme. This will funnel the majority of the working people, including youth and students, towards becoming extremely exploited low wage workers for multinational corporations or push them to become expendable soldiers for U.S. imperialism’s military industrial complex.
As of 2016, about 43 million people in the U.S. hold student debt that amounts to $1.3 trillion, while tuition rates have increased by 10% over the past five years. Trump’s proposal for addressing college student debt is for borrowers to make monthly payments of 12.5% of their income for 15 years, then the rest of their debt would be forgiven. This is only slightly different from the existing policy under Obama for borrowers to pay 10% of their income for 20 years. Trump has expressed his desire to eliminate the federal Department of Education. This is unlikely as it requires an act of Congress, so instead he plans to use public education funds towards privatization. Trump is promoting a “school choice” model which would redirect $20 billion in federal education funding towards block grants for local governments to implement private school vouchers. These block grants would be prioritized for cities that direct public school funding towards charter schools. These vouchers give families the illusion that they have “options” to send their children to charter schools, private schools, magnet schools, or public schools. In reality, “school choice” is nothing but a privatization scheme to systematically defund and dismantle the public education system across the country at the local level.
Trump also supports “merit-based” pay for teachers and seeks to destroy the tenure system. This neoliberal deregulation scheme would remove job security and further exploit teachers by forcing them into a situation of unstable employment. Moreover, Trump wants to prioritize deporting undocumented people in his first 100 days in office, and has threatened to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would impact millions of undocumented youth.”
“Anakbayan-USA also opposes Betsy Devos’ appointment as Secretary of Education earlier this afternoon. Despite having little to no experience with the public school system, DeVos is now responsible for federal policies, programs, and activities related to education in the United States. DeVos has devoted her life to defunding public education and increasing “educational choice” for the elite through vouchers that use tax dollars for private and forprofit schools. DeVos has stated that public schools are a “dead end” and has led a charter school push in Detroit that has repeatedly failed. Her agenda includes denying federal student aid, defunding public schools, and promoting the increased privatization of education in general.
Despite Democrats trying to block her confirmation for 24 hours and even two Republicans voting against her, Vice President Mike Pence was called in to break the tie for the first time in history. As if it were not clear enough with the 2016 Presidential Election, the “democratic” processes of our government cannot be relied on to uphold the rights of the people, especially the right to education. DeVos’ agenda and her confirmation by a majority of Senate illustrate the gross disregard for public education in this country. The education system as it stands now is only meant to profit from students and brainwash them to be servants of U.S. imperialism. As youth and students, we must link with the most exploited, marginalized, and oppressed to take back our education and fight for the rights of the majority. In this time of social and economic crisis, we know the only answer is resistance by building a strong people’s movement.
Anakbayan-USA calls upon the people to fight against the neoliberal attacks against our human right to education. Join Anakbayan-USA alongside various national formations in the #TakeBackOurEducation campaign this year. Youth and students across the U.S. will hold actions and teach-ins to demand the following:
- Redirect funds for military spending towards public education
- Unseat Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education
- Channel funding into public education towards free, quality, and accessible education
- Protect undocumented students and the undocumented community. Join our fight against the privatization of education
- Implement pro-people, culturally relevant curriculums and ethnic studies.”
Photo Credit: William
JOIN US in our fight to take back our education against Fascism, White Supremacy, Monopoly Capitalism, Neoliberalism, and Imperialism.