DeVos’ Involvement in Northeast Missouri Election Raises Red Flags

The election for the Republican nomination for the Missouri Senate’s 18th District has entered into an extremely combative phase. We are just one week away from the election (August 7th) so the negative tone of the race shouldn't be surprising to anyone that follows politics. However, what has become quite concerning is WHO is engaging in these extremely negative campaign tactics: United States Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Over the past week, the Missouri chapter of DeVos' organization, the American Federation for Children, has spent nearly $60,000 polluting voters' televisions and filling their mail boxes with attacks against Craig Redmon and Nate Walker while supporting Cindy O'laughlin. This organization has a single purpose: the creation of private school voucher schemes in Missouri.

As an educator, you know that the idea of creating voucher boondoggles is nothing new, but typically the ideas are pushed by legislators and billionaire special interests like Rex Sinquefield (who has also spent nearly $20,000 in this race) from urban areas that see the scheme as a way to reduce funding for rural schools and direct it toward wealthy, suburban/urban communities. The fact a group like this is trying to influence a Senate race in rural Missouri should alarm anyone concerned about the future of rural schools.

DeVos, the least popular of all of President Trump’s cabinet officials, has surrounded herself with controversy prior to, during, and since her confirmation as Secretary of Education. In a 2015 speech, DeVos referred to public schools as a "dead end" during a speech in Texas and referred to supporters of public education as "flat-earthers". During her confirmation hearing she was asked numerous questions regarding IDEA and teacher evaluation and failed to demonstrate a basic understanding of either issue. Since being in office, she has also failed to state her position on whether or not private schools that accept publicly funded vouchers should be required to serve special needs students.

As educators go to the polls on Tuesday, August 7th, it is extremely important to know where candidates stand on issues impacting northeast Missouri schools. Sometimes the best way to tell where a candidate stands is by looking at who is supporting or opposing them.

Betsy DeVos has told us all we need to know about who educators should support in northeast Missouri.

These special interest groups are counting on educators and supporters of northeast Missouri schools to be quiet and look past the amount of money being spent to influence this election. If educators do not speak up, the likes of Betsy DeVos and Rex Sinquefield are going to buy the next senator from northeast Missouri.

Will you let that happen?

There is no way for us to match the money that billionaires like Betsy DeVos and Rex Sinquefield can spend to influence elections. It is vitally important that educators start talking to their colleagues, neighbors, friends, family, school board members and others in your community in these final days of this race. If you aren’t delivering this message to other voters, no one will. 

As educators, it is our responsibility to stand up for what's right for our schools, students, and communities. In this race, our effort must start today.