These first few weeks in Trump’s America have been chaotic and stressful, but already emblematic of the dire needs philanthropy must step up to. From those who could be left out of affordable health care to those bandied about in an educational system with an uncertain future to immigrants and refugees encountering the suffering that they were attempting to flee, this short time has lit a fire in all of us working on the progressive side of philanthropy.
Yesterday the Senate voted 50-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, to confirm Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. The vote—which followed an overnight session of protest and some support of DeVos—marked the first time in history a vice president has been called upon to break a tie on a presidential nomination. The historic vote also followed a widely publicized groundswell of grassroots opposition to the nomination, citing among other issues, DeVos’s lack of experience, support of privatization and unfamiliarity with education policy and practice.
At the Schott Foundation we were clear that DeVos is dangerously unqualified for such an important position governing our nation’s public schools.
Following yesterday’s confirmation, our grantees and allies in education justice are speaking loud and clear: the fight for public education and equity in opportunity for all students continues.
Hopefully, responsible senators from substantially rural states spent the weekend taking cues from their peers from Maine and Alaska and learning why the potential impact of school privatization on their constituents should cause them to oppose Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. If not, there's still time to catch up before tomorrow's vote.
Besides displaying a troubling ignorance of education policy and practice in her confirmation hearing and in answers to written questions from senators over the last two weeks, DeVos has an especially harmful future in mind for rural districts as part of a broader plan to divert public money to private education enterprises, no matter what the evidence says.
“High quality virtual charter schools provide valuable options to families, particularly those who live in rural areas where brick-and-mortar schools might not have the capacity to provide the range of courses or other educational experiences for students,” she wrote in answer to a question about online schools. As examples she cited seven virtual schools that she said graduate more than 90 percent of their students. But, as the Washington Post reported, a check of public data for each school tells a much different story:
In our webinar earlier this month, “How to Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Girls of Color,” we were joined by Dr. Monique W. Morris, author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, and Aishatu Yusuf, who is currently working on participatory research aimed at interrupting school-to-confinement pathways for girls. You have probably heard of the school-to-prison pipeline, but Dr. Morris prefers to use the term school-to-confinement pathways to better describe the relationships that lead girls of color into contact with the juvenile legal system. As explained in our infographic, the U.S. Department of Education reported that black girls were suspended six times more than white girls, nationally. Dr. Morris and Aishatu unpack the issue in our webinar, providing possible solutions.
As Americans we celebrate the ideal that a freely elected president may appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, anyone capable of carrying out his or her vision for the future of our nation. To the victor go the spoils. However, in this week’s first hearing of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, it became immediately clear DeVos lacks even the most basic knowledge and capabilities required for the responsibility of U.S. Secretary of Education.
While 2016 was a tough year on many fronts, we accomplished so much this year, and nothing we did was possible without the hard work of grantees and partners like you.
Here are just a few incredible things we're grateful to you and our many exceptional partners for making possible in 2016:
FairTest Executive Director Dr. Monty Neill, and history teacher, commentator, and organizer Jesse Hagopian joined us earlier this month for our webinar, “Bursting the Bubbles: Is There a Link Between Standardized Tests and Improved Learning?”Miss the webinar? Check it out here:
Schott President & CEO John H. Jackson was interviewed on a recent podcast on education organizing, the election, and what direction education justice movements should take over the next four years. Dr. Jackson was interviewed by Allison R. Brown, Executive Director of the Communities for Just Schools Fund for CJSF's SchoolHouse podcast.
#GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by social media and collaboration, is upon us and, for the past few weeks, the Schott Foundation has been highlighting the work of some of our grantees across the country. These organizations are on the front lines, advocating for equitable and excellent opportunities to learn for all children, regardless of race, gender or zip code.
In case you’ve missed our Spotlight series (or just need a refresher), the blog posts are linked below. These five grantee partners are all participating in this year’s #GivingTuesday campaign, and we encourage you to consider supporting them in these next 24 hours.
We’re so thankful for the work they do!
In honor of #GivingTuesday on November 29th, the Schott Foundation has reached out to some of our grantee partners to get the low-down on what they do, who they’re doing it for, and the challenges that they handle like rockstars every day.
The Schott Foundation has partnered with Southern Echo to support them in their efforts to engage African American parents and students in rural Mississippi in advocacy for school discipline reform policies, while also advancing alternative, community-based programs.
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