The Chicago Teachers Union issued a scathing indictment Tuesday of U.S. Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, calling the Republican billionaire a "nightmare."
“Choosing Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education was one of the first in what will surely be a series of horrific decisions made by the Trump administration,” a statement from the CTU said.
The union criticized DeVos’ lack of experience in public education Tuesday, as well as her support for charter schools. The CTU claimed DeVos caters to “billionaires who dabble in destroying public education in areas of high poverty inhabited by Black and brown people,” comparing the Education Secretary to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“No matter how much he tries to convince the public otherwise, Emanuel’s insistence on refusing to force his wealthy campaign donors to equitably fund CPS and neglect of the communities where hundreds of thousands of CPS students and educators live and work is a page right out of the billionaire education ‘reform’ playbook co-written by his mentor, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner,” the CTU said.
According to the CTU, Emanuel’s policies “helped pave the way for the nightmare that is ‘U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ and the damage she will do nationally.” Additionally, the union claimed Gov. Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton are looking to expand those policies statewide.
CTU President Karen Lewis claimed DeVos was only confirmed Tuesday because she previously donated "hundreds of millions of dollars" to the Republican party.
“It’s no surprise that Bruce Rauner was among those who endorsed her, because they have a lot in common — such as using their extreme wealth to buy their positions,” CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement. “Our union will continue to stand in opposition to them and anyone else who is a threat to public education.”
Rauner called DeVos “a very talented and very passionate education advocate” in December. The governor’s office signaled a working relationship with the Michigan billionaire Tuesday.
“Our administration will work collaboratively with Secretary Designate DeVos as Illinois has worked with all who previously held this position,” Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said in a statement Tuesday.
Mayor Emanuel's office did not immediately respond to Ward Room's request for comment.