Washington Examiner | Unions target Betsy DeVos as she defends children

Union bosses have tried to run Education Secretary Betsy DeVos out of office since the day she was nominated. Why? Because DeVos champions education freedom scholarships and reductions to the federal education budget that return control to parents.

Educational freedom empowers vulnerable children trapped in dangerous, low-performing schools to escape to safe, high-performing schools of their parents’ choice.

But freedom for families means fewer educators paying union dues — a threat to union power.

Education expert Lance Izumi says, “The growth of federal education funding has led to Washington usurping control over an area that our founding fathers rightly wanted to leave to state and local control. The Trump administration’s proposed education budget would eliminate about half the federal education department’s responsibilities, which would certainly help drain the Washington education swamp.”

Unions built and control that swamp and use union-funded legislators to bully DeVos ruthlessly, mobs of protesters to torment her everywhere she goes, and hate-filled messages full of deceit and slander to turn our nation’s teachers against her.

Thanks to attacks inspired by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and their state affiliates, taxpayers fund around $6 million annually for a security team to protect DeVos. She covers the team’s travel from her own pocket.

NEA launched a “Fire DeVos Pledge,” claiming she’s the most unqualified education secretary in history and that her education freedom scholarships are “degrading” to public schools, “threaten students’ civil rights,” “widen educational inequity,” are a personal attack on teachers, and are “dangerous.

Talk about whoppers. I’m a veteran public-school educator, and I’ve personally studied DeVos’s policies. They’re the best I’ve seen — they even protect religious liberties. Educational freedom is good for families and typically improves public schools.

What it threatens is the political power of unions. What it endangers is their stronghold over our citizenry, and what it widens is the distance between teachers’ wallets and unions’ greedy, sticky fingers.

That’s why government unions employ gangster tactics against DeVos and anyone else who gets in their way. They don’t care who they hurt — even if it’s little kids.

If you want to know what it’s like to walk in Secretary DeVos’s shoes, meet my friend Julie Williams, a Colorado mother. Julie discovered children weren’t being served in Jefferson County School District, and parents were ignored. So she and two other parents campaigned on doing what’s right for kids and won school board seats. From the moment they were elected, the unions led a recall effort through a militant national campaign they deceptively called “Stand Up for All Students.”

In order to oust three parents from a local Colorado school board, unions brought in community organizers from Chicago, launched 500 grassroots activists, hosted parties in PTA parents’ homes, made home visits with teachers, and organized disruptive protests. They claimed the new board members would cut teacher salaries, raise class sizes, strip Advanced Placement credits from high school students, and misuse district monies.

None of this was true, but union leaders hornswoggled the community.

At their first board meeting, hundreds of teachers (manipulated by lies and hysteria) showed up ready for a fight. Julie told me, “They came to disrupt, to stand up, to yell at us, to point their fingers at us and say, ‘You, you’re the one. I’m gonna get you!’”

Parents who supported the new board members were blocked out of meetings by mobs and frightened into silence due to fear of retribution against their children. Board members required a police escort to escape one meeting.

High school students, incentivized by excused absences and snacks, participated in rallies and walkouts for an entire year. Protesters bullied Julie’s special-needs son, and a teacher was caught red-handed putting an emblem on a board member’s car — a picture of his family being blown up.

Despite the attacks, Julie’s coalition balanced the budget for the first time in decades, built a school, raised achievement, and even got teachers $21 million in raises. But the unions continued their assault.

Julie and the other parents were recalled two years after they were democratically elected. Julie told me, “They smashed us into the ground.”

That’s precisely what unions want to do to DeVos.

Julie discovered the unions have a blueprint on how to chase all conservative leaders out of office. Unions use impeachment, false accusations, character assassination, and any ugly means necessary to bring down conservatives who stand in their way. They don’t care who they destroy — local parents serving on school boards, gracious education secretaries, U.S. Supreme Court Justices, a sitting U.S. president, innocent little kids, or the entire educational system.

Secretary DeVos is a blessing to teachers like me and the kids we serve, but she’s a major threat to union power. That’s why union bosses have a target on her back and why they’ll keep shouting, “You, you’re the one. We’re gonna get you!”

Rebecca Friedrichs is the founder of For Kids & Country, author of Standing Up to Goliath, and a 28-year public school teacher who led the fight against the divisive tactics, politics, and corruption of teachers’ unions as lead plaintiff in Friedrichs v CTA. Her Supreme Court case paved the way for a precedent-setting ruling which freed all public sector employees from forced unionism.

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