Commentary

Two new commentaries skewer Betsy DeVos

Two excellent “must reads’ for your Tuesday morning involve the Trump administration’s dreadful and over-matched Education Department secretary, Betsy DeVos.

In “Those Turning on Trump Need to Start Turning on Trump’s Cabinet,” national political columnist Charles P. Pierce calls on GOP senators like Bob Corker and Ben Sasse to stop limiting their Trump criticisms to the prevaricator-in chief himself:

“It was plain during her confirmation hearing that Betsy DeVos was no more qualified to work in education than is your average wombat. One of the particular issues that was aired, if not thoroughly enough, was her opposition to Title IX in all of its manifestations, an opposition that, if you called it abysmal, you’d be insulting a swamp. And it was those parts of Title IX involving special needs students about which DeVos apparently knew vastly less than nothing.

I vividly remember her insistence that local authorities should be allowed to determine whether their schools were in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The hearing room fairly echoed with the sound of palms detonating against foreheads. The only thing Betsy DeVos knows about education is that she has a bunch of friends who want to get rich monetizing it.”

And after noting that Corker has actually been singing DeVos’ praises recently on Facebook for her supposed contributions to education, Pierce says this:

“I can walk down the hallway of the public elementary school two blocks from my house and find about 50 people who have done more for education in this country than she has.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina public school teacher/commentator Stuart Egan had this to say in his latest post about the secretary, who loves to tout her supposed “pro-life” stances:

“What DeVos has done in her short and turbulent tenure is in no way ‘pro-life.’ It’s discrimination.

It is easy to confine the labels ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ to the arena of unborn children. But the issue of abortion is not really the subject of this post.

Why? Abortion is too big of an issue to tackle in a personal essay and I am certainly not convinced that declaring yourself “pro-choice” automatically means that you condone abortion in any situation. Life throws too many qualifications into its equations to make all choices an either/or choice.

When my wife and I received a pre-natal diagnosis that our son had Down Syndrome, we were fortunate enough to be able to talk to a genetic counselor at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. The state of North Carolina had at the time in its laws stated that an abortion could not be performed after a certain date in a woman’s pregnancy. If we had chosen to have an abortion, we would have had to make that decision in a rather small amount of time.

We did not seek an abortion; it was not an option for us, but it was rather surreal to receive phone calls from health providers talking about that option because they had to legally inform us of our rights/options/legal restrictions. You might be shocked to know the percentage of people/couples who choose to abort with the information we had. I was. And I am not about to judge those who did choose what is legally their right in the eyes of the law. There are too many variables in lives that I do not live to run around and make judgement calls.

I also will never carry a child in a womb. Neither will Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or all of the other “men” who stand to gain from their positions of power.

We had Malcolm and I would not trade anything for the experience of being his parent. Anyone who knows me and my family can testify to that. But he is no longer “unborn.” He is now in our world among others who need help to lead fulfilling lives. He actually needs the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its guidelines.

I do get rather irritated when the terms ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ are used in a polarizing fashion, especially for political gain (which applies to DeVos). And when I review quotes, interviews, and witness current actions by our secretary of education, I do not necessarily sense a ‘pro-life’ message as much as I sense an ‘anti-those who don’t think my way’ message.

Because “pro-life” means so much more than that.

Why are we not protecting the lives of those who are already born? I feel that being ‘pro-life’ is not a matter reserved for the issue of abortion and the unborn, but should include those who are living and need help.

Hubert Humphrey once said in 1977, ‘the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’

If you are ‘pro-life’ then it would make sense that you would look to the welfare of those who cannot necessarily defend themselves without help like the “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Is it not ironic that many who promote a strict ‘pro-life’ platform seem to be in favor of privatizing or redefining the very services that help sustain the lives of those whom they claim to champion.

Think of Medicaid that my own son has been on the waiting list for because he will need its services earlier than most people. If it becomes privatized, it may jeopardize his chances of getting the help he needs when he gets older. Within the state of North Carolina, not expanding Medicaid affects many ‘children, the elderly, and the sick.’”

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