March For Public Education Speaker: Elizabeth A. Davis

July 22, 2017

Part of a series highlighting speakers at the March for Public Education.

“Someone asked me why I march, I asked them why they sit down?”
Elizabeth A. Davis speaking at the March For Public Education, Washington, D.C., July 22, 2017.

Elizabeth A. Davis

President, Washington Teachers’ Union

Remarks at Rally for Public Education

Washington, DC 7/22/17

Welcome to Washington, DC.

It might have been a swamp before Trump came, but now it’s a cesspool.

I know you have come from all over the country to support students and our public school system. As a teacher and the president of DC’s teacher union, I thank you.

Make no mistake: Trump’s attack on public education is racist at its heart.

Although all public school students will be hurt by Trump’s cuts, minority and low-income children will suffer the most. Because it is minorities and low income families who are most dependent on public schools.

Cutting funding and resources to public schools is a means to an end. The end is to disenfranchise minority and low income families.

Like the voter suppression laws Republicans are passing around the country … like Trump’s phony “voter fraud” taskforce … Trump’s proposed cuts to public education is aimed at preventing minorities from exercising their rights as citizens … citizens who would in all probability challenge Trump and his billionaire buddies.

By cutting funding, Trump and his buddies are making sure kids can’t get a top quality education.

They are making sure that they will always have a supply of people who are forced to accept low wages for their work because they did not get the education they need to get better jobs.

Many will be forced to work two or three low-paid jobs and have no time or energy to get involved in their government

Trump and his buddies are making sure they can continue to run the country … and the world.

Trump is using an age-old scam to dismantle public schools. They call it “school choice.” This a scheme under which government takes money that should be used for public education and they give it to private schools … so-called “charter schools.”

Sometimes, like in Mississippi and across the south, state governments give public funds to charter schools directly.

Sometimes they give the money to charter schools in the form of vouchers to parents who then pass it on to the private schools.

They say that giving parents these vouchers will force schools to compete with each other for “customers” and all schools will improve.

This is pure bovine fecal matter.

What happens is that as resources are drained from public schools, they fail. Then parents are forced to pay for their children’s education.

All studies show that the education delivered by charted schools is no better — and often worse — than the education delivered by public schools.

The whole idea of vouchers took off in the South after the Brown decision.

Instead of integrating their public schools, Southern states encouraged white families to leave them. They subsidized — directly or through vouchers — what were at first called “white Christian academies” and are now called “charter” schools.

Today, across the South — and more and more in cities across the nation — public schools are stripped of funds and left starving. The charter schools are flourishing.

Public schools in most cities are majority minority and low-income. Charter schools serve the more affluent.

It’s re-segregation.

And history has shown that “separate but equal” is a myth.

I grew up in a segregated school system in North Carolina. I loved my teachers and our schools were the centers of our communities and community life.

But the schools suffered from lack of resources.

We must not go back to the bad old days.

We must resist the dismantling of our public schools.

Trump appointed one of his buddies to oversee the dismantling of public education: billionaire Betsy DeVos.

She bought the job by contributing huge amounts of money to the Trump campaign

She is some piece of work.

She and her husband Dick started what is essentially a legalized Ponzi scheme: Amway.

She has made billions from various corporations that charge huge sums for teaching children who could have gotten better educations in public schools for free.

Some of her corporations are simply bizarre.

One of DeVos’ companies is Neurocore. It offers so-called biofeedback therapy for mental disorders.The therapy consists of showing movies to patients and interrupting them when they become distracted, in an effort to retrain their brains.

Medical experts have concluded this therapy is a fraud, but DeVos has suggested it could be used for educational purposes.

It gets worse.

DeVos’ brother, Erik Prince, is the founder of Blackwater USA, the company that supplied mercenary soldiers to the Bush administration to fight in Iraq. Now Blackwater is in talks with the Trump Administration about hiring its private mercenaries to fight in Afghanistan.

In other words, DeVos and her entire family have made their billions services by privatizing public services.

Are we going to allow Trump and DeVos to turn our schools over to the mercenaries of education?