The teacher’s unions targeted a pair of Republican Senators in their effort to defeat President Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVoss. DeVoss comes out of Michigan and has a long history with the state Republican Party. Her expertise is public education, strongly supporting school choice, charter schools and vouchers. She has advocated for the Detroit charter school system. She is married to former Amway CEO Dick DeVoss, and is worth billions.
President Trump nominated DeVoss because he believes the government schools are broken. Given her success working to deliver choice and in turn better public education to those poorest served by the government schools (inner city children like Detroit), I would tend to agree.
This worldview and ability to tackle the difficult problem of public education is the reason she was nominated. It is also the reason that the teacher’s unions oppose her, to the level of a vampire looking at a cross. This is why they targeted the two US senators with the highest ratings on their public education scorecards. Both Lisa Murkowski (R, AK) and Susan Collins (R, ME) delivered with a coordinated announcement that they would not vote for DeVoss’s confirmation.
Initial response from the talk shows was that Murkowski supported the union demands because of campaign donations over the last few election cycles. Lisa raises a lot of money. While the unions gave her a total of $23,500 for her 2010 and 2016 campaigns. DeVoss family members donated $43,200 to her 2016 campaign. So, it is not about the money with Murkowski.
If it is not about the money, what then is it about? Lisa has long been socially liberal. And it is this liberalism that gets her in trouble. Her wheelhouse, the thing she does best is energy and Alaska issues. The closer she stays to those arenas, the better she does. When she is a long way from elections (5 years as I write this), she tends to stray.
Lisa’s remarks opposing DeVoss were remarkably condescending and in no small way insulting.
She accused DeVoss of “… lack of experience with public education and the lack of knowledge that she portrayed in her confirmation hearing.” Perhaps Ms. DeVoss knows precisely what is going on in public education and is taking an active role to fix it, unlike Lisa and her NEA / AEA supporters.
She hid behind the disabled community with concerns that vouchers would “… actually rob them of their ability to benefit from an education in an inclusive environment with their nondisabled peers.” This is rich, for public education only puts up with the handicappers because they have to, not because they want to. Want to fix SpecEd? Put the money as close to the students as humanly possible. I dare you. And yes Lisa, that means vouchers.
Finally, I marvel at a woman that paints herself as a champion of woman’s reproductive rights – yes, pro-choice (or to the pro-lifers, pro-death) emphatically refuses to allow parents the choice how to educate their children. To social liberals like Lisa, choice does not mean you can choose how to educate your children. It only applies to killing them before they are born.
Lisa managed to pull only 44% last November, with Joe Miller who jumped into the race at the last minute pulling over 29%. President Trump took 51% of the statewide vote.
Lisa keeps this up, and she will be ripe for a properly funded, conservative candidate to defeat in 2022. But that campaign needs to start in 2018 and not a moment later.
By caving in to weeks of hysterical e-mails, letters and phone calls from members of the teacher’s unions, Lisa Murkowski demonstrated that she can be rolled on social issues. And once you cave into bullies on any topic, they will never, ever leave you alone. They will want to see if you cave in on other issues (cue the hysterical campaigns by the greens as Trump takes steps to open up Alaska for resource development).
Want more bad behavior from the unions, Lisa? Keep on rolling. Keep on rolling.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He is a small business owner and Information Technology professional.