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California teacher joins growing chorus of opposition to Betsy DeVos’ agenda

Sarah Vigrass: when for-profit companies put shareholders over the needs of our students, kids lose


WASHINGTON - January 18, 2017 -

California teacher Sarah Vigrass joined students, parents, educators, and lawmakers in Washington at a press conference to highlight the devastating impact of the Trump-DeVos education agenda on public school students. Educators like Sarah are sounding the alarm across the country about Betsy DeVos’ track record of support for anti-public education policies, urging the public and lawmakers to reject her nomination to become the nation’s education secretary. Sarah has worked at California Virtual Academies, an online charter school managed by K12 Inc., a for-profit company. Betsy DeVos and her family were early investors in K12 Inc.

“What I know about for-profit companies in my school has me deeply concerned about what Betsy DeVos will mean for my students,” said Sarah Vigrass, a fourth and fifth grade teacher from Riverside, California. “Students are at the center of everything I do. Schools like mine, however, put profits and shareholders over kids. They view kids not as tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers, artists, and inventors but as today’s revenue. When for-profit companies put shareholders over the needs of our students, kids lose.”

K12 Inc. was the subject of an investigation by the California Attorney General for allegedly providing parents misleading information about hidden costs, parent satisfaction, student academic progress, and their graduates’ eligibility to attend colleges and universities in the California state system. Currently CAVA and related charter schools are undergoing an audit conducted by the California State Controller’s office due to serious concerns with their practices.

For decades, Betsy DeVos has led efforts in her home state of Michigan and across the country to dismantle and privatize public education. She is a staunch advocate of giving taxpayer-funded vouchers, with no strings attached, to parents who send their children to private schools. She supports for-profit public charter schools while opposing policies to hold them accountable to taxpayers for their performance.

“Betsy DeVos’s total lack of experience and her lack of support for public schools should be automatic disqualifiers. What she deems as solutions have already failed students, while enriching profiteers who put their own bottom line ahead of the welfare of the children. It seems clear to us: she is an anti-public education activist more interested in funneling public monies into private schools and for-profit charter schools. She doesn’t value the diversity we celebrate and hold dear here in California. The Senate should reject her nomination accordingly, and insist instead on a nominee with the experience, expertise, and vision our nation’s students deserve,” said Eric Heins CTA President.

“The job of the secretary of education is to support our students, especially the most vulnerable, to strengthen American’s public education system and to ensure equal access,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “The Trump-DeVos agenda is designed to undermine that mission and harm our students and public schools. That’s why we join Sarah and others in urging the Senate committee in the strongest terms to reject Donald Trump’s nominee.”

To read the rest of Sarah’s written testimony, please click here.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez
January 18, 2017 202-822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org


RELATED LINKS

NEA president: Betsy DeVos is dangerously unqualified to serve as education secretary (January 17, 2017)

Betsy DeVos as Trump’s Secretary of Education: A looming disaster for students (EdVotes.org - December 7, 2016)

Educators react to Trump nominee Betsy DeVos (Lily's Blackboard - December 2, 2016)