Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association
We have absolutely no affiliation with the National Education Association and do not represent its views in any way, shape or form.
"Alarms went off, red flags were raised, and outcries from the public, followed her nomination. She became a punchline for late night comedians during her disastrous confirmation hearing because she simply failed to convince the American public that she was up for the job.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia on Betsy DeVos, February 7, 2018
THESIS OF THIS BLOG POST – NEA orchestrates campaign to oust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos
On February 8, 2018, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia walked over to the Department of Education building in Washington DC and tried to deliver several packages to Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Belated birthday presents, perhaps?
After all, DeVos had just celebrated her 60th birthday exactly one month earlier on January 8th.
Instead, those packages contained 80,000 “report cards” meant to teach DeVos a lesson.
Had Garcia done a better job with her “lesson planning,” she may have actually been able to complete this delivery. Unfortunately, she didn’t call the DOE ahead of time to make an appointment.
How irresponsible of President Garcia.
“The union leaders found locked doors as they tried to enter the Department of Education building …”
What exactly did those report cards contain?
The NEA had given DeVos straight F's because she failed to show proper support for public education.
This failed "Report Card" Delivery" was the culmination of a methodical and calculated campaign by the NEA to force DeVos out of office.
The Anti-DeVos campaign started immediately upon her nomination, picked up steam leading into the confirmation hearings, reached a climax at the 2017 Convention (where the NEA asked her to resign) and culminated in the failed publicity stunt on February 8, 2018.
THE FEUD BEGINS – DeVos reaches out to Garcia, Garcia turns her back …
The NEA fought hard to make sure that DeVos’ confirmation as education secretary was defeated in the Senate.
It lost that fight.
But instead of being gracious in defeat, the President of the NEA, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, turned spiteful and bitter.
By contrast, Secretary DeVos took the higher ground. Despite being continually insulted by Ms. Garcia in the lead up to the Senate confirmation ...
“Betsy DeVos is not qualified, and even more than unqualified, Betsy DeVos is an actual danger to students.”
... DeVos took the time to call Ms. Garcia hoping to open up a dialogue on issues important to both the NEA and the DOE.
But the NEA President flatly turned her down:
“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called me the other day saying we should talk. But this seems premature. So I sent her a letter, asking for the answers that we didn’t get from her confirmation hearing. I have yet to receive a response …”
This was wrong.
WHAT GARCIA SHOULD HAVE DONE - Don't start a conversation with an ultimatum
Instead of setting up parameters for the first meeting (“I sent her a letter, asking for the answers …”), Garcia should simply have met with DeVos on an informal basis in order to establish some kind of rapport.
At this initial meeting, Garcia could possibly have presented DeVos with the questions that she wanted her to answer. Or maybe during the meeting she could have mentioned the questions to DeVos and let her know that she would be following up with a letter.
Even Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, met with DeVos and spent some time touring schools in Ohio with her. She didn’t refuse to meet on principle like Garcia did.
“Despite a strained relationship , Ms. DeVos and Ms. Weingarten had a short meeting of the minds in the spring, when they toured schools together in Van Wert, Ohio.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia's strategy to cut off any kind of dialogue from the very start was both selfish and ill-conceived.
You don’t start off a conversation with an ultimatum!
... unless you have an ulterior motive, that is ...
THE HISTORY OF THE CAMPAIGN TO OUST DEVOS
Is it far-fetched to claim that the NEA engaged in an active, calculated and methodical campaign to oust DeVos?
Let us lay out a brief timeline of events and let the reader decide for himself:
Early Expression of Dislike for DeVos
November 23, 2016
“By nominating Betsy DeVos, the Trump administration has demonstrated just how out of touch it is with what works best for students, parents, educators and communities.”
December 21, 2016
“For the first time, we are at risk of having a secretary of education who not only hasn’t spent any time with public-school students, but has devoted two decades to pushing policies that undermine the schools they attend.”
The Run-up to the DeVos Confirmation Hearings
January 17, 2017
“Betsy DeVos, who has spent decades working to dismantle public education and privatize public schools, is dangerously unqualified … She is out of her league … she is unqualified and lacks the experience in public education that Americans expect from their secretary of education.”
January 25, 2017
“MSNBC: We are alarmed, we are appalled, we are taking action!”
January 27, 2017
“In my years as a public education advocate, I have never witnessed this level of public outcry. Clearly Betsy DeVos’ nomination—as unqualified and as unprepared as she is—has touched a raw nerve not only with public education advocates like me but with the general public as well.”
February 2, 2017
“Spectrum: DeVos rankles autism community”
Palpable Disappointment as DeVos is Confirmed
February 7, 2017
“America is speaking out. The level of energy is palpable … We are going to watch what Betsy DeVos does. And we are going to hold her accountable for the actions and decisions she makes on behalf of the more than 50 million students in our nation’s public schools.”
February 9, 2017
"You called, emailed, marched and told everyone on Facebook how much you care about public education. Now it's time to take that energy/frustration/inspiration and stand up for your local public school.”
The Letter – Garcia Draws a “Line in the Sand”
February 17, 2017
“Secretary Betsy DeVos called me the other day saying we should talk. But this seems premature … So I sent her a letter, asking for the answers that we didn’t get from her confirmation hearing. I have yet to receive a response …”
The Criticism Continues
March 03, 2017
“The Trump-DeVos agenda does nothing to provide opportunity to all of our students.”
April 10, 2017
“Unregulated private charters, Uber and the world of Betsy DeVos.”
May 23, 2017
“NEA President: Trump-DeVos budget is a wrecking ball aimed at public schools.”
The Ultimatum – Answer the Letter or Else …
New Business Item 52 (2017)
June 30, 2017 - July 5, 2017
“If the questions asked to the Secretary of Education by the president of the NEA are not answered by 9/1/17 the NEA will request the resignation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education should she fail to respond to the satisfaction of the NEA governance regarding the questions posed by President Eskelsen-Garcia in her letter.”
Campaign to Oust DeVos Picks up Momentum
July 2, 2017
“I will not allow the National Education Association to be used by Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos … I do not trust their motives. I do not believe their alternative facts. I see no reason to assume they will do what is best for our students and their families. There will be no photo-op!”
“We will not find common ground with an administration that is cruel and callous to our children and their families.”
July 06, 2017
“NEA applauds lawsuit against Education Department, DeVos”
“The National Education Association applauds the decision by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and 18 other states …”
July 14, 2017
“Under DeVos, the most unqualified, out-of-touch secretary ever to head the department”
October 26, 2017
“I forced myself to listen to her speech and the question-and-answer session moderated by Paul E. Peterson, a professor at Harvard and advocate of voucher programs. At times, I felt like I was getting a root canal without novocaine from the dentist in ‘The Little Shop of Horrors.’”
THE PUBLICITY STUNT AND THE CALL FOR RESIGNATION
Unfortunately for the NEA, none of this criticism was making much headway - the campaign was failing.
DeVos was still the Secretary of Education, and both she and Trump were continuing to pursue their agenda.
Clearly, the NEA needed another strategy – and thus the Report Card Publicity Stunt was born …
First the NEA encouraged its members to fill out “report cards” giving an “F” grade to Betsy DeVos for her education policies.
“Betsy DeVos has failed to make the grade”
“Issue DeVos her first-year report card”
“We’ve had a year of Betsy DeVos and her schemes to undermine great public schools. It’s time we let her know exactly how she’s failed our students.”
Then they planned the Washington DC publicity stunt which we described at the start of this blog post. The NEA President was to go to Washington with boxes of “report cards,” march on down to the Department of Education to deliver them, and then hold a rally outside the building with the TV cameras rolling.
Needless to say, all of this was orchestrated well in advance.
In fact, the Secretary of Education should have known it was coming because the day before the visit to Washington, Garcia was already asking for DeVos resignation on her Blackboard:
“Betsy DeVos has failed our students. It is time for her to resign.”
The NEA even set up a website where its members could sign a petition supporting the resignation of Betsy DeVos:
Tell Betsy DeVos: It's Time to Resign
CONCLUSION: DeVos and Garcia BOTH support education for our children
From what we can tell, the feud between DeVos and Garcia is based on a disagreement about the best way to educate our children.
The NEA President would have you believe that evil Betsy DeVos is out to destroy education in the United States while the angelic NEA is here to save it.
This is ridiculous.
In fact, they both have similar goals - they just differ as to how to achieve them.
If you don’t believe us, just read the following two quotes which we included in a previous Anti-NEA blog post. They are especially relevant here:
“Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.”
DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos
“… we continue to stand up for our shared values that every student, regardless of their zip code, deserves a great public education.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
If you keep an open mind, you will note that the only difference in point of view is that DeVos wants “quality education” and Garcia wants “”great public education.”
They are both interested in the education of our children.
So why can’t they just get together and work this all out?
This question should be directed to the NEA.
It’s time for Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the NEA to stop trying to undermine the Secretary of Education and her agenda just because they don’t agree with it 100%.
Is the NEA familiar with the word “compromise?”
If Lily Eskelsen Garcia wants to prove that she is really a leader, she needs to swallow her pride, admit that her original approach was wrong and agree to sit down across the table from Betsy DeVos and have a conversation.
Stop being stubborn Ms. Garcia - remember, it’s for the children …