While Senator Daines seems increasingly likely to cast a vote as the worst Senator money can buy for the worst candidate Donald Trump could choose to lead the Department of Education, I was incredibly proud of Senator Tester’s speech yesterday defending the idea of public schools in the face of the assault people like Betsy DeVos represent.
Senator Tester is absolutely right to argue that it is our public schools that provide the foundation of democracy in this country. People like Betsy DeVos and the interests she represents want to discredit, defund, and ultimately destroy our public education system and replace it with one in which those parents with power and opportunity get the best kind of education for their children and leave the worst behind to children who most need a public education system to give them a chance to be successful and fulfilled in life.
Senator Tester, unlike Betsy DeVos and Senator Daines, understands that every child should have a safe classroom, a full stomach, and a mind open to a world of possibility from discussing Horton Hears a Who to wrestling with AP Calculus. Every child should have teachers who are knowledgeable, committed, and prepared to bring out the best in her students. Every child should have a nation that stands behind the idea that the strength of American democracy and the future of the middle class rests on public education.
There’s no doubt that our public school system needs improvement, and as anyone who’s read Jonathan Kozol can tell you, we don’t have a system that treats all students with fairness and equality now. The solution to those vexing, unjust problems, though, is not to put people behind the corporate and ideological war against public schools in the driver’s seat of federal education policy, but to put an educator who understands—and believes in—the potential of all of our students.
This isn’t just a fight over a clearly unqualified dilettante plagiarist being appointed to a job she has no business taking; it’s a war for the future of the neighborhood schools that are the foundation of our communities.
And I am proud to know that my Senator is on our side.