We know we cannot, cannot have Betsy DeVos as secretary for education. So let’s do everything to stop her from getting confirmed — right now the committee has postponed their vote on her to January 31, pending an ethics review. This is an immediate call to action. We (Ali and Carrie) are gonna put all the very necessary, do-it-right-now info up front, and then we’re going to explain why after in case you wanna get more in depth.
Call These Senators To Voice Your Concerns About DeVos
Who needs to call: people who live in Tennessee, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Louisiana, Indiana, Utah, Kansas and Alaska.
Who to call: Help Committee Republicans. Here’s a list:
Lamar Alexander (TN) – 202-224-4944
Michael B. Enzi (WY) – 202-224-3424
Richard Burr (NC) – 202-224-3154
Johnny Isakson (GA) – 202-224-3643
Rand Paul (KY) – 202-224-4343
Susan Collins (ME) – 202-224-2523
Bill Cassidy, M.D. (LA) – 202-224-5824
Todd Young (IN) 202-224-5623
Orrin Hatch (UT) – 202-224-5251
Pat Roberts (KS) – 202-224-4774
Lisa Murkowski (AK) – 202-224-6665
Tim Scott (SC) – 202-224-6121
What to say:
Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a constituent of [SENATOR’S NAME] from [CITY WHERE YOU LIVE]. My address is [ADDRESS]. I’m calling to urge [SENATOR’S NAME] to vote against Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education. There are plenty of reasons to oppose her confirmation, but I’m concerned with her complete ignorance around special education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — which DeVos did not know was a federal law — guarantees rights to both students with disabilities and to their parents. So this isn’t just about civil rights; it’s also crucial to families. We cannot afford a Secretary of Education who’s “confused” on what the law is.
IDEA and the ADA were both signed into law by Republican Presidents. Disability rights are not and cannot become a partisan issue, and [SENATOR’S NAME] will lose my vote if [HE/SHE] votes to confirm Betsy DeVos.
Please feel free to personalize your script and make it sound more natural to you, but please stick to this message. This is a message tailored to Senate Republicans, because that is who you are talking to. They’re going to ask your zip code or address to verify you’re a constituent, and that is normal.
What to do if you don’t live in those states: talk to EVERYONE you know who does and share this far and wide. Keep in mind your audience when you’re talking to people — if your friend or family member is progressive, go ahead and share this article, that’s fine. If they aren’t or you’re not sure, talk to them, text or email them instead and express that you’re sure you can both agree on one thing: that someone being confirmed to a cabinet position needs to be more qualified than this. They have to at least know federal law in the arena they’re preparing to step into. Betsy DeVos doesn’t. Tell them to fight for the best cabinet, and that you’re confident that the Trump administration can find a better nominee.
When to take action: IMMEDIATELY. If you’re in any of the above-mentioned states, pick up the phone and call now. If you’re not, mobilize your network and share this information on social media. The Senate HELP Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination on Tuesday, January 31st at 10 am. If all Republicans on the Committee vote to confirm her, the nomination will go to the Senate floor for a final vote.
Alrighty, now for some questions:
Why these senators?
These are the Republicans on the Senate HELP (Health, Education Labor & Pensions) Committee. You’ve probably seen videos with the Democrats of this committee, people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken. They already think DeVos is harmful and ridiculous. You can call them too and tell them good job; they don’t hear that enough! But for this action to have a snowball’s chance in Hades, it’s the Republicans we need.
The Senate HELP committee can choose not to move Betsy DeVos forward. If they do that, it forces the administration to pick again. If they pick someone just as incompetent, well. We’ll be back here doing this again.
Why aren’t we all just calling one senator?
Well, we can’t. Or rather, many of us can’t. Those of us who don’t live in the above mentioned states can’t call those senators. They don’t have to listen to us. They’re only going to listen to people who live in those states.
And all of these senators, when they begin receiving these calls, are gonna talk to each other. And they might decide that moving DeVos forward in the process is a bad idea.
Why education, specifically?
Ali: A few reasons. I believe that education is fundamentally a queer issue. Oftentimes our youth are alone in their schools or feel like they are, fighting for a good education that adults just aren’t giving them. It’s up to us to take care of them. Here’s a way we can help do it. I also think we have a shot at this one because the footage of the hearings have been SO ridiculous, so it’s good to go for something we’ve got a shot at. And lastly, I work in higher education and sit on the advisory board for an organization called WriteOn! so I have a lot of things to say about education. This is one area where I feel like I can personally make a difference, and education is how we fix this. Bolstering American education is how we try to ensure that the populace does not fall for this again. This is long term strategy.
Carrie: “Special education” isn’t just the “separate classes” thing you might be used to. I was always mainstream schooled, educated alongside nondisabled people, and in honors or Advanced Placement courses, and I have special education laws like IDEA to thank for every single part of that. Without them I might not have been able to go to school at all. That’s not an exaggeration — over one million disabled kids had zero access to public schools in America before IDEA came to be. My education, largely via public schools, is what allows me to hold down jobs, live an independent adult life, and do all of the disability advocacy work I’m taking on now. Betsy DeVos is not just a joke of a nominee. She is actively, malignantly ignorant, and I can’t sit by while future generations of disabled folks have their rights and futures snatched or “confused” by the Muggle equivalent of Dolores Umbridge.
Look at it this way: Trump’s cabinet only has 1,379 days to do their worst, and their success depends on us being uneducated and afraid. You have it in you to be neither.
But this statement doesn’t even say some of the most vile things about her! She’s for vouchers! Grizzly bears and guns!
Again, this is a statement tailored to Republican senators, not people who already agree with us. Republicans aren’t going to necessarily be into the idea that vouchers are a no-go right off the bat (though we hope to get them there in time). It’s better to have a clear, concise statement that a Republican can get behind. And calling lets them know their constituents are watching. Also of these things are the most vile things about her.
Okay… what exactly is IDEA?
At its core, it ensures that disabled students have the same access to education as nondisabled students, and at the time of its original inception under a different name more than one million disabled students didn’t have access to public schools, so it solved a present and dangerous problem. If you’ve ever had or heard of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), this also guarantees those. It guarantees a whole host of other things as well, it’s pretty vast and awesome. Also President Ford signed it into law. Y’all, it is not a good look to be against or ignorant of IDEA, regardless of political party.
Oh, and also: there’s a case up in the Supreme Court right now that’s set to determine basically the scope of what public schools have to and should provide disabled kids, so this is pretty relevant and we can’t really have a Secretary of Education who doesn’t know this.