Friday, April 21, 2017


When Donald Trump nominated Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education, it was immediately clear that her main qualification, in the administration’s view, was her willingness to help them all but destroy the department entirely.
Candice Jackson, an attorney with limited experience in civil rights’ law — but with a long history of hostility to issues of social justice like feminism and racial equality in schools — will be the deputy assistant secretary of the office, and will serve as the acting assistant secretary until the position is filled.In addition to her writings against equality, compulsory education, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jackson also brings a personal tale of fabricated woe to her new position:
As an undergraduate studying calculus at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, Candice Jackson “gravitated” toward a section of the class that provided students with extra help on challenging problems, she wrote in a student publication. Then she learned that the section was reserved for minority students.
“I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs,” she wrote in the Stanford Review. “We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming competence or incompetence based on race.”
That this is the person DeVos deems fit to oversee students’ civil rights is extremely troubling. And it is precisely this kind of move about which Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) so fervently tried to warn us in his floor speech against DeVos’ nomination back in February.
The Office for Civil Rights has been the difference — the difference makers between injustice and justice, the difference makers between violence and security, the difference makers between who we say we are as a nation — liberty and justice for all — and experiencing a terrible, awful lie.
I hung a picture in front of my office. I come out of my office into where my assistant sits, and the first thing I see, (pauses) the first thing I see on the wall in front of me is a Norman Rockwell painting. This little girl — God, her courage — this little girl named Ruby. Ruby Bridges. And there are these white men surrounding her, walking just as tall, and they’re escorting that girl to school. And there’s clearly hate swirling around. You look at that picture and you can feel it. But I don’t care what your background, what your religion — you look at Norman Rockwell’s painting, as I made sure I do every day that I leave my office as a United States Senator, I see that picture and I am reminded that sometimes, the most vulnerable child needs a little help, not just from a loving teacher or a loving parent, but that there is a government that stands behind her and says: ‘You matter.’
And our country has come so far. There’s so much love, so much more recognition of the dignity of all children. But come on, we’re not there yet!
There’s a child, I think, that wonders — right now, somewhere in America — is wondering if this country will prove itself true to them. They’re probably enduring some things I never had to endure. They’re probably worried about their safety. They’re probably being put in a situation where they’re questioning their worth. They probably feel alone and isolated.
My prayer is that that child knows that even though it ain’t perfect, and it won’t be easy, that that child somehow knows that they’re not alone, that there will be people fighting for them. Because I was taught, in the words of a great poet: “There’s a dream in this land, with its back against the wall; to save the dream for one, we must save it for all.”
May the Office for Civil Rights, in the years to come, remain vigilant, remain strong, remain expansive in their efforts. But I have no confidence it will do so under this person.
Booker voiced these grave concerns about DeVos, but with Jackson now alongside her — bringing more hard-heartedness, narrow-minded thinking, and the absurd idea that it is the racial majority who are actually suffering — his warning has proven even more prophetic than it seemed at the time.

No comments: