"I have decided to stop taking offense," Betsy DeVos wrote in a Roll Call column, "at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point."Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, knows plenty about buying influence and has plenty of money to do so. Dubbed "The New Kochs" by an article in Mother Jones, Betsy and her husband Richard earned multiple mentions in Dark Money, the authoritative book on the topic by Jane Mayer. True, among the über-rich who participate in the Koch brothers' seminars, Richard and Betsy rank a few notches below the top ten. Their almost $6 billion valuation isn't near the combined $86 billion of Charles and David Koch or the $31 billion of Sheldon Adelson. But $6 billion ain't chopped liver. It can buy you a whole lot of influence. And it has, in the pursuit of removing any restrictions from political donations and in promoting the spread of vouchers and charter schools.
"I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home."That's how Christiane Amanpour began her acceptance speech for the International Press Freedom Award given to her by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Amanpour is one of those strong, steady, fearless journalistic voices. She's a respected international correspondent who has spent time the world's hot spots. She understands what attacks on the press look like. She hosts persecuted journalists on her program. She knows whereof she speaks.
I was chilled when [Trump's] first tweet after the election was about "professional protesters incited by the media." He walked back the part about the protesters but not the part about the media. We are not there but, postcard from the world: this is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdoğan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al.
As all the international journalists we honor in this room tonight and every year know only too well:
First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating—until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison—and then who knows?
. . .
A great America requires a great and free and safe press. So this above all is an appeal to protect journalism itself. Recommit to robust fact-based reporting without fear or favor—on the issues. Don't stand for being labelled crooked or lying or failing. Do stand up together—for divided we will all fall.
. . .
The organizations issuing the call to action are: the AASA, the School Superintendents Association; the American School Counselor Association; GLSEN, an LBGT student group; the National Association of Elementary School Principals; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; National PTA; the National School Boards Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Association of Independent Schools.
"We come together as national education organizations in the wake of the troubling rash of reports of bias incidents and violence occurring in schools across the nation in recent days," the groups said in a statement. "As learning communities, schools and school systems are responsible for providing all students with a physically and emotionally safe learning environment. This principle is the foundation of academic achievement, healthy individual development, and civic engagement. Violence, intimidation, and purposefully harmful expressions of bias undercut the core mission of schools and have no place in our school communities."
The statement applauded the schools and districts "that have already taken meaningful steps to develop and support positive school climate in their communities." It did not list any examples. In recent weeks, districts like Los Angeles Unified have approved resolutions following repeated school walkouts by thousands of students. Those resolutions call for safe and supportive learning environments, and some have made special mention of a refusal to cooperate with possible future federal immigration enforcement.
“Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton, an American Musical, we truly do. We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”That is a pointed, eloquent statement. There isn't a word of harassment, no threatening tone of voice. It is polite dissent, spoken with theatrical diction by a man wearing a formal, American Independence-era suit.
Come see this revival of a Tucson original. Can 2 families work out their difference on Christmas… More