Failed politician John James is still standing by Betsy DeVos even as she pushes to reopen schools without having a plan to safely do so. But even as Michiganders including public education activists and teachers oppose her anti-education agenda, James is still in lockstep with her.
The DeVoses have rewarded James for his support with a “significant chunk of their spending this cycle.” The DeVos family network and their top executives have pumped over $90,000 into his campaign and nearly $1 million into a super PAC set up by James’ shadow campaign manager, which has now raised over $2 million to benefit James.
“It’s no surprise that John James would put Betsy DeVos and her anti-education agenda ahead of Michigan students and teachers since the DeVos family has paid for his loyalty,” said Michigan Democratic Party Spokesperson Elena Kuhn.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- U.S. Education Secretary and Michigan native Betsy DeVos is in hot water again for her push to resume in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic, as critics say her stance validates their concerns about the polarizing figure.
- DeVos has long been a boogeyman figure for public education activists and teacher unions in Michigan, stemming from her family’s decades-long crusade to advance school privatization. Criticism of DeVos has sharpened since she was appointed to lead the Department of Education, and detractors say her push to fully reopen schools while COVID-19 numbers rise nationwide is a strong example of what they feared when she took her position in the Trump administration.
- Public health experts are concerned about the potential for the coronavirus to spread among children, teachers and back to adults at home. Joeseph Eisenberg, chair of the epidemiology department at the University of Michigan, said putting children back in school will always carry some level of risk.
- “We just don’t know a lot of what would happen and could happen,” Eisenberg said. “If done right, I think it could be done in low-risk situations, but there’s a question of whether it can be done right.”
- The CDC released guidance for school districts that includes measures to stagger class schedules and pivot to online learning in the event of future spikes in community transmission of the virus. But President Donald Trump called the guidelines “impractical,” and DeVos said partial reopenings are unacceptable.
- David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan, said educators recognize the benefits of in-person instruction, but feel “a tremendous amount of understandable anxiety” about whether it can be done safely. Hecker said DeVos’ stance lacks the nuance needed in an evolving public health crisis.
- “She has no idea how parents feel, how educators feel,” Hecker said. “It’s just another expression that surprisingly, she’s not afraid to make, that shows her total incompetence and how harmful it is to children of the United States to have her as Secretary of Education.”
The Michigan Democratic Party launched JohnJamesRevealed.com to hold the failed U.S. Senate candidate accountable for his positions – including those made over the course of the 2018 campaign that he then tried to delete after losing that campaign. For the first year of his campaign, James was largely in hiding from Michigan press and voters to try to paper over his out-of-touch record, and has only come out of hiding after facing scrutiny from Michiganders.