Trump’s education secretary — and her brother, a mercenary who advocates assassinations

Blackwater founder is a key Trump advisor -- and brother of Betsy DeVos

Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who has been called “America’s most notorious mercenary” by author and journalist Jeremy Scahill, has emerged as an influential advisor to the incoming Donald Trump regime.

Prince is also the brother of Betsy DeVos, who is in the process of being confirmed as secretary of education — and an advocate for the privatization of public schools.

Assassinating public education: Betsy DeVos
Assassinating public education: Betsy DeVos

The connection between these two reactionary political players is no secret, but is one of those barely-known facts that has remained mostly hidden in plain sight. Despite significant press around the confirmation hearings for DeVos, the corporate media has not called the public’s attention to her relationship to Prince. Plaudits go to the The Intercept for publishing an article – on January 17 by Scahill about Prince’s connection to Trump, and highlighting his connection to DeVos.

Prince’s biggest claim to infamy is as the founder of Blackwater, a private security firm that hired mercenaries to augment US military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, among many other places. Blackwater, now transformed into a company called Academi, had an intimate relationship with the CIA, and was regarded by many as one of the CIA’s go-to organizations when it wanted to contract out its dirty work. Blackwater got into hot water more than once, particularly in 2007 when some of its mercenaries gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians, including a 9-year old boy, in Baghdad.

Scahill reports that trusted sources tell him Prince has been giving Trump advice on his staff picks for the Defense Department and the State Department. Nothing like having friends in high places if you want work.

Prince is close to another Trump advisor, the racist Steve Bannon. Prince has often appeared on Bannon’s Breitbart Radio. Last July, Prince told Bannon that a Trump administration could and should create a new version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination program during the Vietnam War that “neutralized” tens of thousands of alleged Viet Cong leaders. The new assassination program would presumably target “radical Islamic extremists,” and who knows who else.

DeVos, while not a public advocate of murder like her brother, has worked for decades in an effort to undermine and assassinate public education. A billionaire heir to the Amway fortune, she is a prominent Republican donor and fund-raiser. Her political efforts have centered around campaigns to give parents taxpayer-funded “vouchers” so they can pull their children out of the public education system and send them to private schools, including religious schools. She has also campaigned to expand charter schools, which are publicly funded but run by private companies.

She isn’t responsible for her brother, of course, but the two are closely linked in politics — and there’s no sign anywhere that she has said she doesn’t approve of his actions.

DeVos hails from Michigan, where she is a political force to be reckoned with. She has been credited with creating a network of charter schools in Michigan that are virtually unregulated, despite the abysmal test scores of their students. Dick DeVos, Betsy’s husband, led and funded the successful campaign in 2012 that turned Michigan into a so-called “right to work” state, effectively outlawing the union shop. That includes, of course, public schools.

DeVos was called the “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” for the office of Secretary of Education ever by Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers.

The Erik Prince-Betsy DeVos connection adds another layer of concern to the prospect of DeVos running the Education Department. It is becoming more clear every day that the Trump regime is a collection of the most reactionary set of scallywags ever assembled in Washington DC, which has seen its fair share of reactionaries.

Prince did his bit to get this latest bunch of scallywags into the White House, and to give the Education Department to his sister. On November 4, just days before the election, Prince used Breitbart News to spread a fake story about the Anthony Weiner sex texting scandal, claiming that the New York Police Department investigation “found State Department emails. They found a lot of other really damning criminal information, including money laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than 20 times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times.”

Let’s hope that DeVos is not tempted to recruit her brother to run an assassination program against public high school principals. Oops, I meant a “character” assassination program.

Copyright © 2017 by Marc Norton

Marc Norton’s website is www.MarcNorton.us.

  • 4th Gen SF

    Did the author of this piece send his kids to the nearest public school or did he send them to one of the “special” “mostly white” other alternative schools like Rooftop, New Traditions, or the actual charter schools like Creative Arts ? Or transfer their kid from the mostly brown school near the house like other authors on this blog have because they are “bad schools”.

    I’ll wait.

    DeVos premise is that there should be more Charter Schools & frankly I agree with her on that, public school attendance is plummeting, the only way to get people to come back is to offer a better school environment. Frankly I think we should do a charter school in SF & everywhere in the state based on the German model, which is start languages young, 1/2 day till 4th grade, super full longer days in all the other grades, leave school knowsing about 3 or 4 languages.

    • Don Sebastopol

      It would also help to give higher priority to those living in the attendance areas whey they apply to their neighborhood schools. There are no “bad schools.” Schools don’t perform, students do.

      It is not uncommon to find advocates for progressive positions to be hypocrites. But I don’t blame them for wanting what is best for their families.

      • indigogirl

        The problem with giving priority to kids who live closest to the school is that SF is geographically segregated by race and class. If you go purely off geography for school assignment, you create a very segregated school system.

        • 4th Gen SF

          But the problem is today is that the 04 gets priority over everyone else & it’s a really horrible situation for them as they are bussed way away from where their support is. And I do know that alternative & better schools use the busses too but in general that is my observation. In other words the black and asian students are used for diversifying schools in ways that are rather unsavorty. For instance, SFUSD uses Asians to help bring up school scores of “dire” schools and buses THEM (as well) all over town. It’s a shell game.

        • Don Sebastopol

          SF public schools are losing the middle class. As more affluent parents move into a neighborhood the percent that go to private school increases. That is creating a segregated school system based on class. If they can get into their neighborhood school more of the middleclass would return to the public schools.

          The current system of choice with priority given to CTIP1 residents has not helped make elementary schools more diverse. White applicants from CTIP1 areas to popular schools outnumber Blacks. Schools are becoming more segregated. Parental choice is the primary cause. Parents tend to choose schools where they find their own race or language. Giving higher priority to attendance area residents has little effect on segregation.

          Segregation is not a problem in SF. The problem was that minority schools got less resources. Separate was not equal. The opposite is true in SF. Schools with a higher percent of low performing students get more resources than schools with high performing students.

    • Wilder

      What you need is not more charter schools, but more proper funding for public schools.
      All over the world, especially in countries that have better education outcomes than the US, like the northern European countries, the public school system works just fine, because it is adequately funded.
      But whatever America does, it should not learn from others, right?

      • 4th Gen SF

        Charter schools are run by the SFUSD & within CA they’re all run by the public school entities. They actually get less $ than public schools fwiw.

        I just checked the SFUSD website & frankly the report card is deplorable. Latinos & black are doing horrible in English Language Arts, math, etc.

        According to the SFUSD, there are 95k eligible children in SF for public schools but only 55k in SFUSD. The reason imho are many.

        1. SFUSD is top heavy & won’t give a decent salary to those that are janitors, secretaries, teachers, childcare people but gives ENORMOUS salaries to principals & management..

        2. Class sizes are still too large.

        3. Need to bring the 40k that are not in attendance in by offering the following type of schools:

        A – German type schools – several languages including German, half days till 4th grade, longer days than now.

        B – French language charter or alternative schools

        C – More arts schools

        The reason? That is what many/most of the parents want that are not attending.

        Also, the European countries that have better educational systems do not take parent complaints seriously. Perhaps we shouldn’t either. For instance, there’s a ton of people screaming racism to principals & teachers every day but it’s not racism, it’s actually expectations of behavior that would not be tolerated in any European school that you mentioned.

        Behavior is a good part of the probem in our public schools, I suggest smaller classs sizes and less attention being paid to parents who are dysfunctional.

        • Ann Wick

          Obviously, you have Never really looked at what ‘Betsy the Horrible’ has done to Michigan schools. She took taxpayer $$$ for the Detroit school system and guess what happened? They went bankrupt. Her Way is really simple – Throw $$Millions at the problem even if She has NO background in how to run or fix Schools. Give me a break.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Oakland schools are also at the bottom how is that DeVos fault?

          • Bill Smith

            Oakland is Oakland. Unique if you will😂😂😂

          • 4th Gen SF

            lol

          • 4th Gen SF

            And Detroit schools were doing so well before she got there? No, DET schools have been failing for decades, with the loss of American jobs in Detroit/Flint/MI in general.

            Trump is bringing jobs home for people to get to work again, have pride. Make it to the middle class. The people in DET have choices, they have alt & charter schools as well as public schools as it should be.

          • Ann Wick

            Lame excuse. Name one job OrangeHead has bought back? _______.
            And, We won’t stand for charter schools funded by OUR tax $$$.

          • 4th Gen SF

            Your descent into name calling is noted. You have no facts.

          • Ann Wick

            Truth hurts. And, I refuse to call Him by name. Deal with it.

          • Bill Smith

            You are totally in the weeds (smoking?). Look this broad is corrupt and her black water brother is even worse. Google it for heavens sake!!!

          • 4th Gen SF

            I believe that everyone shld be able to choose the kind of school for their kid. Even Bern agreed that there should be more public and charter schools

      • Don Sebastopol

        Where are the data showing that outcomes are related to funding?

    • max norton

      Hey there, I’m one of the two kids you’re asking about. We both went to Alvarado and James Lick, i.e. the nearest public schools.

      Believe what you want about school policy, but your hypocrisy diagnosis is wrong.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Alvarado & Lick have been immersion schools for years.

        • max norton

          I agree with you that all public schools should offer high-quality language programs as do Alvarado & JLMS. Both are regular neighborhood public schools, not charters. My point was simply to correct the assertion, which you apparently pulled out of nowhere, that I personally went to a “mostly white” alternative school–even though you had absolutely no idea whether it’s true, and it isn’t.

          • 4th Gen SF

            I did not assert that Max, and frankly you seem like a wonderful kid. I asked if you had gone to a local school or to one of the alternative / charter schools within the district & you answered that. TY.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Lick is also known for it’s arts program

      • Don Sebastopol

        Alvarado is becoming more White and less Black and Asian. Hispanic numbers and percents are not changing. Interesting it that Alvarado Whites perform above average compared to Whites at other schools. These high scorers are children of parents with graduate degrees and are not economically disadvantaged. I am assuming this reflects the gentrification in Noe Valley that has been occurring for the past few decades.

    • indigogirl

      If you think Rooftop is mostly white, you haven’t been there in a really long time, buddy. Rooftop is one of the most diverse schools in SFUSD.

      Charter schools are a way to channel public money to private profit. Their results range from the same as public schools to markedly worse, with a few amazing exceptions.

      Personally, from your comments, I don’t think you are knowsing [sic] as much about education as you think you do.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Just checked their SARC at SFUSD. Yep, still majority white at 30.9%, 2 or more races which is USUALLY white+ ethnicity – 9.8%

        That’s almost 40%.

        Asian – 14%
        Hispanic – 20%.

        Have a great day.

      • 4th Gen SF

        “are knowing” what are you talking about? You sound ridiculous.

      • 4th Gen SF

        As far as me knowing about education, what is your status in education, Ms. “Are knowing”? I really hope you’re not a teacher in the SFUSD.

    • Hmmm, 4th Gen SF. Did you go to a German school or just basing your fact on hearsay? I did, and the only language taught besides German was English. I will agree German students in the first few years of school only went for half a day, but the afternoons were filled with homework. I am assuming you also know that students test to determine if they will continue in academics or a trade/craft school, right? Which some in this country feel needs to be implemented to streamline and focus the student towards a skill that will be more conducive to work in the 21st century. The closest thing we have to this is the military but sadly technical/trade schools have either exploited the students or seen as lesser accomplishment.

      • 4th Gen SF

        Hi, glad you responded. I did not go to German school but I’ve been to Germany many times, at least once or sometimes twice a year & I know many Germans in Germany, many with children. I also saw the kids on the trains out early & questioned my German friends in Germany about it, in fact I have questioned many Germans about schools right now & that is what they tell me. I know about the trade school/academic school switch that begins but not sure how old kids are when they start doing that.

        I did say “half days till 4th grade”, I think you did not understand what I mean by that. 4th grade in the USA is about 10 years of age, which is the time that German students start getting full days, right?

        Apparently, 4th grade (again 10 years) is when they start to filter you off for trade schools or Gymnasium schools.

        And due to everyone working so much Germany might implement full day schools from K on as we now do here in the USA according to this article.

        http://nypost.com/2008/09/10/school-days-in-germany/

        BTW, I think the German education system IS SUPERB. I knew a German/American couple & I kept telling the German father to make sure his kids were educated in GERMANY, we knew them before they started having children. He took my advice too, sold his USA home & the family is living in Germany.

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