The president of the American Federation of Teachers played psychic this past week, claiming to know what is “in the heart” of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.*
In a Buzzfeed story about internal Democratic Party struggles regarding school choice and charter schools, the “clairvoyant” Randi Weingarten said
“In her heart, [DeVos] doesn’t care about children […] She is an adversary. She demonizes us, she demagogues us, but she does it while smiling. That’s part of why I find her so dislikeable — don’t smile at somebody and then put a knife in their back. That’s what she’s doing.”
Although high-profile Democrats like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton support charter schools, (charter) opponents within the party look to use President Trump to help their cause:
“The president is so wildly unpopular among Democrats that his support for some of these policies — which we’ve been working on for literally decades — had made the politics of supporting school choice much harder than it needs to be,” said Derrell Bradford, vice president of the school choice advocacy group 50Can.
Charter opponents say — and their advocates fear — that over the next two years, they’ll work tirelessly to tie supporting charter schools to the two people who are perhaps the most hated by the party’s base: Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos. They plan to push candidates to vocally oppose many forms of charter school expansion, as well as things like private school vouchers, betting that the Democratic base will be mobilized by a desire to oppose policies that Trump and DeVos have strongly supported.
Trump and DeVos “have made the choices very stark,” said Randi Weingarten [of the] country’s second-largest teachers union. “They’ve made this a ‘whose side are you on’ moment for us. The public has never been so fierce about public education — I have not seen this in decades.”
Before DeVos became a household name, the Network for Public Education, an advocacy group, had some 22,000 members. It says it now has 330,000. “She’s helped us tremendously,” said Carol Burris, the group’s director, of DeVos. “She exposed the choice movement for what it is, and people have started to wake up.”
A Democratic donor said that while teachers unions “may want to use [DeVos and charters] as a wedge” in primary battles, it’s ultimately “a loser in the general [election].”