Maybe now would be a good time for us to surround a local school, join hands, and let it be known that we intend to fight to preserve public education


We got beat today. We just needed one vote to keep Betsy DeVos away from the Department of Education, and we couldn’t manage it. We waged one hell of an assault… occupying the offices of our Senators, jamming their phone lines, going after them with unprecedented enthusiasm them on social media… but it just didn’t seem to matter. Even with the additional day that Senate Democrats bought us, by refusing to to cede the floor of the Senate for 24 hours, we couldn’t make it happen. This afternoon, shortly after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Betsy DeVos was sworn in as our Secretary of Education.

I’d been hopeful that we might be able to stop DeVos, a billionaire with absolutely no relevant experience, and a demonstrated dislike for public education, from taking over the Department of Education. I’d thought that, by pointing out the fact that she’d stated on the record that she was in the practice of “buying influence” and “expected a return on (her) investment” we might be able to appeal to some of those 21 Senators who had taken money from her family to at least consider backing away from her, for fear that, otherwise, they might be seen as the absolutely corrupt individuals that they are. But that didn’t happen. Knowing full well that she was, as Senator Franken said today, “the most incompetent cabinet-level nominee” to have been considered for confirmation in our lifetimes, they voted for her anyway. 50 Republican Senators, having heard the candidate say that she couldn’t promise to either defend the civil rights of disabled students or hold charter schools to the same standard as public schools, voted for her anyway.

They voted for her knowing that she has no relevant experience. They voted for her knowing that she and her husband have said in the past that their motivation in pushing voucher programs and for-profit charters was to reorient society away from secular schools, and back toward the church, in order to “advance God’s kingdom”. They voted for her in spite of the fact that several of her responses to them appear to have been plagiarized. They voted for her in spite of the poor results her so-called market-based reforms have given us in Michigan. And they voted for her even though they’d heard her cite the existence of grizzly bears as a reason to allow guns in schools.

Even with all of that, though, we just couldn’t make it happen.

While two Republican Senators did break with their party over DeVos, it just wasn’t enough to kill her nomination. And a lot of us, as a result, are dispirited today. This was one fight that many of us thought that we might be able to win, an opportunity for us to actually build some momentum against the Trump administration, and protect our kids from what’s now sure to be coming their way. And we failed. But we can’t stop. We can’t give up now. Like our Democratic Senators, who, just after losing the DeVos vote, jumping right back on the horse and announced their intention to filibuster the Jeff Sessions nomination, we have to find the energy to keep moving forward. We need to keep looking for ways to build a real, grassroots resistance movement that starts at the neighborhood level. And, toward that end, I have an idea that I’d like your feed back on.

A few days ago on this site, I asked the following question… “Should we join hands and surround our local public schools as a sign of solidarity?

Well, given what happened today, I think that maybe it’s an idea worth considering more seriously. I know it’ll be difficult. How many people would it take to surround a school like Holmes, anyway? Would 500 people do it? And, if we went public with the idea, would 500 show up? I’d like to think so. I love the idea of strangers coming together, holding hands, surrounding a public school, making it clear their intention to draw a line in the sand and fight. If we’re ever going to build a real movement, we need things like this, right? We need reasons to get out of our houses, away from our televisions, and meet one another. We need to start exploring what it means to fight back. And I think now’s the perfect time. We all want to do something, given what happened today, to make a statement… and what could be better than meeting up for a little while some afternoon to show our kids and our teachers that we intend to fight for them?

OK, let’s move this conversation to the comments section to discuss the details. I don’t have a whole lot of time these days, but, if enough of you like the idea, I’d be happy to keep pushing it forward.

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  1. Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Ideally, I’d like to do this on a school day. I’d like for teachers to get there in the morning, before school, and see us all standing there. I don’t think, for practical reasons, that would work, however. I think, in order to get enough people to surround a school, we’d have to do it on a weekend, like on a Saturday afternoon.

  2. Donald Harrison
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    If you do it this Saturday afternoon, count me in for:
    a) promoting the crap out of it (ie., at least 5 people, maybe quite a few more…)
    b) filming the crap out of it (sorry I’m over using “crap” but that’s the word this DeVos vote sh*t inspires in this publicly educated lad)
    c) coming up with at least 1 overly complicated, sesquipedlian non-crappy chant for the crowd

  3. Donald Harrison
    Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I’d also suggest we start an Amway boycott, but who the hell’s ever bought Amway products? I got recruited to sell them once, but have never knowingly encountered them anywhere…ever.

  4. Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    This Saturday is coming right up. It kind of scares me. But it is supposed to be almost 50 degrees.

  5. Posted February 7, 2017 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    And video would be awesome. I can picture it in my head. All the people walking toward the school, and then slowly taking their places in the line, joining hands. It could be really beautiful. And the drone shot would be a nice touch.

  6. Mika Yamamoto
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    I am in Washington for a conference this weekend, but I will send my people from Midland.

  7. EOS
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Sen. Frankin is calling out someone else for lack of relevant experience and competency? That’s a hoot.

  8. Demetrius
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    @ EOS

    -Our military strategy is about to be set by defense contractors.
    -Our foreign policy is being run by one of the world’s largest oil companies.
    -Environmental rules will be set (and mostly dismantled) by the polluters themselves.
    -The Justice Department is about to be run by a “good old boy” white supremacist.
    -And, our “public” schools will soon be run by churches.

    You and your people are on the verge of having everything (and probably more than) you’ve ever dreamed of … so honest question: Why are you being such a sore winner?

  9. EOS
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    My “Peeps” don’t support endless war, are isolationists, but are happy that business destroying environmental regs are being dismantled. If Defense Contractors are running the show, how is it that their projects are being slashed? The Justice Department is in need of people who will actually enforce the laws on the books and has been for some time. (And I don’t believe the Senator is a “good old boy” white supremacist.) And the church will not run public schools.

    I am no where near having everything I ever dreamed of. I haven’t won anything. Just thankful that we aren’t dealing with another President Clinton. That would have been my nightmare.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Donald– Amway has a direct sales model and the majority of its business is done overseas, so it’s products are not available in stores. It garners huge profits by ‘creating opportunity’ for low income and marginalized people by getting them to do it’s sales work promising unrealistic returns, and pushing them to rope in new sales people to up their earning. Margins for the company itself are huge. There is an intense nationalistic and religious component to the brand identity as well. Amway is short for American Way. Even when pitching abroad, they are selling the American Dream. A fraudulent one, but there you go. DeVos beliefs about education reflect the company’s overarching world view. Abuse and poach the marginalized while selling them false hopes, and so, enrich yourself.

  11. XXX
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    More public action. More defense of neighborhood schools. More resistance.

  12. Eel
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    What rhymes with DeVos? I’s working on a chant.

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Boss rhymes. As in, you’re not our…

    I’m in. I want to hold hands with my MM haters. I’ll be the one wearing a pink pussy hat. It should be easy to find me. Probably won’t be too many out there ;-p

  14. Demetrius
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    There once as a woman named DeVos
    Who opposed public schools, and their cost
    When asked what she fears
    She said “what about BEARS!?”
    And so our poor children’s future was lost.

  15. M
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I would have thought it was obvious. DeVos rhymes with cross.

  16. Donald Harrison
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Let’s play some Kriss Kross as we cross fingers and do nerdy chants – looks like we’re already off to a good start. I’ll bring some donuts. Maybe someone bring some hand sanitizer.

    And thanks for the Amway break down, Jean. I’ve known it as the classic “pyramid scheme” but amazed that I’ve never encountered their products for something that’s earned billions. I guess it makes more sense now.

  17. Liz DMG
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    It also makes sense to reach out to the teachers’ unions and school administration and see what would be helpful and what they would find supportive?

  18. Cheryl Farmer
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I love this idea! Many local Dems will be tied up all day Sat with the Annual convention at Cobo. What about Sunday afternoon, Ypsi Community High School, say 1-3PM? Wouldn’t it be great to have this happen all over Michigan ?!!

  19. site admin
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    There’s also a Planned Parenthood march from 8:00 AM to noon on Saturday.

  20. Kira Berman
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I’m in. Sunday afternoon would be a great time.

  21. C.H.
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Hug your local public school day?

  22. Gillian
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I like this idea. i have seen friends in other states react to the DeVos news with comments like “time to start homeschooling” or “time to start my own school” and it’s like–no–that’s the exact opposite of what you need to be doing. It’s time to defend your public schools.

  23. Donald Harrison
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    What if all these home schoolers were invited to do that in public schools? I know it sounds like a contradiction (and many of the home schoolers are specifically wanting to avoid public schools), but taking it into our own hands could mean getting more hands-on with the public schools we have.

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been on a local thread that suggested the same thing. Makes me crazy, it’s so entitled. One of those situations (and there are many) where progressives act to further marginalize under the guise of creating a brave new world that suits their ideals.

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I spent part of this evening putting together a few flower pots with bulbs for some eachers and admin at my kids’ schools. (and my oldest graduated last year) I wrapped them in red, because that is the color of the union’s resistance to DeVos. They simply say Thank you. I think it would be cool if we all gave valentines to our local school teachers and local schools next week. Symbolic yes. But I think teachers really need our gratitude and support right now.

  26. Mark Tucker
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Symbolically, this sounds interesting. As an event planner, it sounds like it might be anti-climactic–with the emphasis ending up focused on protecting a building, instead of education itself. But you’re onto something here, it just needs to include the students early on in the planning for some type of event that showcases their love and defense of their continued access to public education–and a call to professionals in every school district to start volunteering (giving back!!) in the schools, donating much needed supplies, offering kids internships, and finding creative ways to support teachers, staff, and administrators–its up to those of us who have benefited from public school educations our whole young lives to contribute back into the system. The public schools will get stronger with our help.

  27. Meta
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Speaking of her testimony concerning how, as Secretary of Education, she’d (not) protect the civil rights of children with disabilities, did you see this headline in the Seattle Post Intelligencer?

    “Website for disabled kids disappears as DeVos takes office”

    A U.S. Department of Education website, empowering families of students with disabilities, has disappeared — and already embattled Trump education chief Betsy DeVos may be to blame.

    U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell want to know what happened to the vanished website, and have asked Education Secretary DeVos to put it back up.

    The website was set up under President George W. Bush so educators, advocates and parents could get a “one-stop” explanation on the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), as well as know their rights under the disability law.

    The resource has been inexplicably taken away. In a letter to DeVos — whose confirmation both senators vocally opposed — Cantwell and Murray explained:

    “We are deeply concerned that prior to your confirmation and arrival at the Department, the centralized resource website for the IDEA became inaccessible to the public for more than a week, and is now redirecting people to a site for the Office of Special Education Programs.

    Read more:

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