January 28, 2017 9:57 pm

Betsy DeVos’s Nomination Inspires NYC Parents to Form Grassroots Group

Published by

Public School Watchdogs is a completely grassroots group of parents, children and teachers organizing through our schools. We’ve spread by word of mouth from just one parent standing in front of her school collecting letters to being a network of parents from about 25 NYC schools collecting over 4,000 letters to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand opposing DeVos.

It’s been easy to organize — first I told a few friends I was doing it, then they joined me and told their friends, and now there’s a core group of about 15 of us who work together to organize actions. Our 1-week old Face Book group has over 400 members, from New York and other places as well. We’d love to spread all over the country.

After our first, somewhat frustrating visit to our Senators’ offices, when we stood in the lobby with our first stack of 1500 letters and heard that neither Senator had taken a position on DeVos, we decided to ramp up our drive and involve our children too. Middle and high school students wrote their own letter and circulated it around their schools at lunchtime. One group of elementary school students organized their own rally and letter writing campaign.

Parents and children showed up with another huge stack of letters, and talked to some of Senator Gillibrand’s senior staffers. We joined a larger rally protesting all of Trump’s nominations bringing a very loud and visible anti-DeVos presence. I actually think that we have had an influence. Now that both Senators have committed to voting no, we’re urging Schumer to lead the entire Democratic Caucus to vote against her, and to try to actually block her.

Whatever happens with the DeVos appointment, we will keep organizing to protect public schools from privatization, and to defend schools, students, families and teachers.