Parkland Press

Monday, March 30, 2020

Citizen groups call on Toomey to oppose DeVos appointment

Thursday, February 2, 2017 by Debbie Galbraith in Local News

Approximately 200 people from various citizen groups gathered at the office of Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey in Salisbury Township Jan. 24 to oppose President Donald Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education.

Members of “Tuesdays with Toomey” gather at Toomey’s office each week to voice concerns and to “urge the senator to represent them and keep his campaign promises to protect and serve all constituents.”

Other groups attending the rally were citizens from Indivisible, and the Kutztown Area Democratic Club.

In a news release to The Press, “Tuesdays with Toomey” representative Vashti Bandy explained why DeVos was unqualified for the position.

“She has never attended or worked in a public school and has little background regarding the experiences of public school students and their families. She is unaware of critical pieces of legislation that affect students, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Betsy DeVos’ record in Michigan clearly shows the dangers of her approach to education. DeVos, a billionaire, has given $200 million to conservative organizations and politicians, including nearly $1 million to 21 of the senators who will vote on her nomination.

“The DeVos family foundation spent nearly $1.5 million to persuade the Michigan legislature to kill a bill to regulate charter schools in the state.

“Charter schools are more loosely regulated than private schools. Further, the money taken from public schools as a result of school choice disproportionately and negatively affects our most vulnerable students.

“Thanks to DeVos’s efforts, 80 percent of the charters in Michigan operate for profit, without accountability or transparency.”

The speaker for Jan. 24 was Tom Nardone of Kempton, a resident of the Northwestern Lehigh School District.

Nardone’s comments were directed to Toomey who was not present for the rally.

“I want you to focus on the fact that you are safe... safe for now from Mr. Trump. He will be up for re-election in 2020 and gone in January 2021, but you sir will not be up for re-election until 2022.

“You do not need need us.”

After many of Nardone’s comments, protesters chanted, “You do not need him ... you need us.”

“We need politicians like yourself to become statesmen,” Nardone said. “We need you to remember as a parent, every son and daughter needs the dreams of this country to be fulfilled and, for many, that dream must take the road of education, not money to be reached.

“For unless you are handed an inheritance, obtaining the best education possible has always been the very best road to success.

“We want our children. our Republican our Democrat, our Liberal or Conservative, our black, our white, our brown, yellow, multicolored children to have the best schools possible in every grade.

“We want our teachers to be paid a salary that reflects the priceless job they perform and to be continually developed professionally so that the lessons taught reflect the highest standard to prepare our children’s mental, social, intellectual, artistic and civil selves.

“We insist that every school be adequately funding with enough physical space to stretch the minds of our children into the arts and music, physical education, the science or design, engineering, architecture, auto repair, carpentry, plumbing, space exploration, whatever opportunities they need to develop the talents or interests God has given them so that they as our future citizens are prepared to face the challenges of this ever-changing planet.”

Steve Kelly, from Toomey’s office, provided the following statement regarding the Jan. 24 rally.

“Sen. Toomey’s staff met with the protesters today,” Kelly wrote. “Staff met with them last week to discuss myriad issues.

“Sen. Toomey’s staff is happy to meet with constituents in the office from time to time as issues warrant.

“And the Senator appreciates hearing from Pennsylvanians and keeps their thoughts in mind when considering all issues.

“This group continues to protest on days when Sen. Toomey is in the Washington, D.C., conducting official business. They have every right to continue their protests.”