Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an immensely wealthy person who has seemingly never actually worked a day in her life towards any cause other than destroying public education, thinks that public school teachers should fight for better working conditions on “adult time.”
DeVos made this comment at the annual Education Writers Association conference in Baltimore on Monday, in the wake of a rising labor movement among educators across the country. Since last year, teachers from West Virginia and Oklahoma to California and Colorado have gone on strike for higher wages, better health insurance, and better resources for students. Teachers, in fact, were at the forefront of the largest year on record for workers going on strike in America. Most recently, teachers in North Carolina and South Carolina—the two states with the lowest rates of union membership in the country—staged a one-day walkout on May Day.
DeVos, as you can imagine, is not happy about this. “I think it’s important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time, and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process,” DeVos said at the conference. “I think too often they’re doing so by walking out of classrooms and having arguments in the way that they are.”
Even by Trump administration standards, this is appalling bullshit.
Leaving aside that it appears DeVos has no concept whatsoever of what the purpose of a strike actually is, there’s the patronizing tone of “adult time.” Teachers are literally donating paid time off to their coworkers who have sick children. About one in five teachers are forced to take on a second job, according to a Department of Education survey. What “adult time”? The weekend? When no one’s paying attention?
DeVos, in a true pot calling the kettle black moment, also took a shot at American Federation of Teachers union president Randi Weingarten, saying that “great teachers perhaps should be making at least half as much as what Randi Weingarten does at a half million dollars a year.” Weingarten told Bloomberg: “We could do this if Betsy worked with us to revoke tax cuts for rich people. She won’t even have to give up the summer homes and the yachts.”
Education reformers—i.e. anti-union ghouls—also love to repeat the line that it’s all about the children, as if they aren’t spending all of their energy slashing funding for public education. And DeVos, in particular, has a ton of nerve bloviating about what will “hurt kids” after spending her first few years in office undoing Obama-era reforms meant to make public schools a more welcoming learning environment for students of color and LGBTQ kids, as well as protecting prospective college students from the for-profit fraud.
There was one bright spot, however. When asked if she would stay on if President Donald Trump is re-elected, DeVos said she “wasn’t sure her husband would be OK with that.” Weird answer, but whatever gets her as far away from making decisions about the American education system, I suppose.