The confirmation of Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education raises questions among faculty at schools across the nation about how to organize to protect public education. For many special education teachers in particular, the threat of widespread cuts to public schools is particularly urgent.
Betsy DeVos is a champion of school privatization and advocate of dismantling public education, and she confidently and aggressively plans to pursue these goals.
US special education departments have long suffered from ableist policy and funding practices, which are part and parcel of the neoliberal assault on public schools — in which students with disabilities are always the ones thrown under the bus.
DeVos, who openly opposes a federal guarantee of free and appropriate education to students with disabilities, appears poised to further ravage these services.
But it’s not only teachers who are hungry to defend students most victimized by ongoing attacks on special education. During the 2016 walkout by Boston Public School students, thousands of young activists and working-class families raised the demand for full funding for disability programing alongside a broader demand for well-funded public schools.
The current resistance to Trump has demonstrated the readiness of ordinary people to stage effective opposition to systemic injustice of all kinds. From the massive demonstrations for women’s rights to the pro-immigrant, anti-Islamophobia protests staged at airports across the nation, these mobilizations have shown that hundreds of thousands of people are invested in opposing oppression and fighting for a more just society.
We have an opportunity to tap into this momentum and harness the energy of this resistance to simultaneously oppose the DeVos agenda and bring the struggle against disability oppression to the forefront…