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Audrey Watters

Education Secretaries and a Progressive Path Forward

2 min read

Cross-posted to Facebook

Even if Democrats lose this vote – and it’s likely they will – I hope that they have learned a lesson with Betsy DeVos: people care about education. It doesn’t always figure into debates. It doesn’t always poll as well as “the economy” or “national security.” But people care. Public education matters. It matters on a personal level that white, middle class folks in particular relate to. (This, to my mind, explains why people are so enraged about DeVos’s nomination but not about other possible Cabinet members.)

The Democrats have not done much to distinguish themselves from Republicans when it comes to education policy in recent years. Obama’s education legacy is much the same as Bush’s which was much the same as Clinton’s. (Perhaps going after for-profit higher education – a centerpiece of the Obama higher ed policy – was a notable exception.)

Can Democrats recenter themselves so that they are committed to communities, to equity, to justice, to democratic education? That’s their path forward to win. Not some embrace of punitive charter school education or surveillance-oriented ed-tech.