Not Just DeVos

Before we get into the update on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a couple of local items of interest.

Lessons in Falling
As reported in the Riverhead News Review, a forthcoming novel from SWR alumna Diana Gallagher was named by Barnes and Noble as one of the Top 10 Most-Anticipated Indie Young Adult books of 2017.

“Lessons in Falling,” scheduled for release on February 7th, is a story about “two best friends grappling with the aftermath of the one friend’s suicide attempt.” Ms. Gallagher is quoted as saying that she “remembers hearing reports of suicides or attempted suicides during all four of her high school years,” and that she hopes this book “will help break the stigma surrounding the subject.”

It is immeasurably heartbreaking that that this topic is still so relevant. But it is good to see efforts being made to deal with it, and resources (especially YA Fiction) that can help our students make sense of it are always welcome.

Tesla Museum
CBS reported that construction is about to begin on the Tesla Museum in Shoreham. This is great news for our community and for the memory of a nearly forgotten genius.  It’s expected that the welcome center will open by the end of this year and the full museum will open within three years.

A few local people are quoted in the article, including Jane Alcorn and Marc Alessi, but we’d like to highlight three SWRTA Retirees who have given lots of time and energy to the museum, including running their after school education programs: Deb Lohman, Carol Davis-Wiebelt, and Mary Schwartz. Thank you for your tireless efforts in keeping our students engaged and interested in science. (Special thanks to Carol in particular for teaching me that “Tesla > Edison”).

More DeVos?
If we’re gong to broach this topic again, let’s start with two positives.

The first is that while previous Education Secretary appointments have gotten some press attention, it has never been like this. Stories about John King, Arne Duncan, and their predecessors, were mostly limited to education journals or columns. But the DeVos train wreck has gone mainstream.

Trevor Noah did a segment on the Daily Show.  The New Yorker offered up the Betsy DeVos standardized Test. Cartoons and memes are all over the internet (see below). Even Newsday has come out against her.

Sadly, this probably won’t stop her from being confirmed. But it does help our cause in giving the general public a much clearer picture of how public education is under attack in this country, and may well help us grow support as it becomes ever more necessary.

The second encouraging element of this story is that the vote to confirm Ms. DeVos has been pushed back a week to January 31st. For their part, the GOP leadership is not giving any indication that this means that their support has wavered at all. In fact, rather than seeing her dismal performance as an indication of her lack of qualification for the job, Sen. Alexander blamed the Democrats for asking “gotcha” questions.

Still, while the odds of stopping DeVos are long, the delay allows a little more time to make the effort. If you haven’t gotten to read up on why DeVos would be a disaster for public education, please see my previous post or read this article from the Washington Post.  Then…

Call our Senators:

Contact the Senators on the Health, Education, and Labor Committee

If you don’t know what to say, this link has some sample scripts.

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