Monthly Archives: November 2016

The AP Stands Up

Quick post today: If you’re writing news articles and hoping to get picked up by larger organizations, the Associated Press is the place to do it right this moment. Here’s why:


…whenever “alt-right” is used in a story, be sure to include a definition: “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism,” or, more simply, “a white nationalist movement.”

If you would like to contact Reuters (the other major news article supplier) and encourage them to adopt a similar definition in their style guide, their “general contact” phone number is (646) 223-4000. To thank the AP, call (212) 621-1500.


Secretary of Education part II

Welcome back from Thanksgiving.

The new front-runner for Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos.

Many of you may not know who she is. I certainly didn’t when her name came up, so naturally I did some research.

It turns out that Ms. DeVos is stridently anti-homosexual. She and her immediate family have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight against marriage equality.

I don’t care that she’s not a big fan of public education as it is right now. Neither am I, to be honest. She likes vouchers; that doesn’t bother me. It makes me nervous that she’s been so heavily into religious education, but not so nervous that I would campaign against her on that basis alone. No, what bothers me is that she’s a bigot. Her donations have already damaged the rights of some of the most vulnerable students in our education system, at a time when things were finally starting to look up.

If this bothers you too, please call your union, and then call the other union. Remind them about the Stop the Hate letter, and urge them to put forth a better candidate.

EDIT: The AFT and NEA have both condemned DeVos’ nomination (those links are to their letters). These should be thank-you calls – but also, please urge them to put forth a better candidate.

National Education Association: (202) 833-4000
American Federation of Teachers: (202) 879-4400

AFT responds, and Attorney General

Last week I talked about contacting your union regarding Ben Carson as Secretary of Education. Fortunately, he has withdrawn himself for consideration (with the most bizarre rationale I’ve ever heard). I was going to focus on the Attorney General this week, for reasons I’ll explain below, but it turns out that the AFT has done me one better.

The American Federation of Teachers, in conjunction with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and dozens of other groups (including the NEA and the AFL-CIO!) have signed a letter asking Mr. Trump to denounce hate crimes and reject Steve Bannon as strategist. They also have a public petition, which I encourage you to sign.

So when you call the AFT or NEA this week, please thank them for this. Their phone numbers are at the bottom of this post.

Now, on to the Attorney General. I know some of you may be wondering why an educator (or an education blog) would care about the Attorney General.

Here’s why: Affirmative Action.

Affirmative Action is still necessary.

We do not have racial equality in this nation. We also do not have good mobility between economic classes. Improved education is one of the ways that we push for equality. Whether your parents have a college degree is one of the strongest predictors for whether you will succeed in schooling yourself. Regardless of whether you think everyone should go to college, everyone should at least have the option, because it opens doors for both people and for their children. Affirmative Action is a push for equality, not just in school demographics, but in society at large.

The current front-runner for Attorney General is Senator Jeff Sessions, whose opinion is that the KKK is ok with him. He tried to put that off as a joke. That’s not a joke. He also said, on the record, that he would not characterize grabbing women’s genitals without permission as sexual assault. This is a man who, if appointed, will help to set legal policy in our schools and universities.

It seems unlikely that Mr. Session would support Affirmative Action, which will undoubtedly come under fire in the next few years. It also seems unlikely that he would promote gender equality or women’s on-campus safety in any way.

Here’s the info from the last post. Please thank your unions for the action they’ve taken so far, and ask them to keep it up.

National Education Association: (202) 833-4000
American Federation of Teachers: (202) 879-4400

Union Contacts

There are several matters coming up for which you may want to contact your union representatives. The one that is most directly relevant to this blog is the potential appointment of Ben Carson, a young-Earth creationist, to the position of Secretary of Education. This is sort of like putting a rabbi in charge of your mosque, or hiring a soccer player to coach American football. There are so many better choices.

Call. Do not e-mail, do not use the contact form. Call. Write a letter if you must. Go to your local union, but call the national as well. Call even if you are not a member.

National Education Association – 2.9 million members
Education International affiliated
(202) 833-4000
Lily Eskelsen García, president
National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290

American Federation of Teachers – 1.6 million members
AFL-CIO affiliated
(202) 879-4400
Randi Weingarten, president
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
555 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

You can also contact the education union for your particular state (or even city in some cases).

Graduate students: contact your local union rep. They will no doubt be eager to speak with you, as most graduate students are less than active in their unions.