Russ Walsh has written an important post, which is a call to arms for all of us who care about public education and don’t want it to be turned into a free-market consumer good.

Last week on his show, Real Time, Bill Maher introduced the Yale professor and author, Timothy Snyder, whose new book is entitled, On Tyranny. The book outlines 20 lessons we can learn from the rise of fascism and communism in the 20th century to make sure the same does not happen to us in the 21st century. Lesson #2 caught my ear immediately: Defend Institutions. Snyder says

It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about – a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union – and take its side.

OK, Professor Snyder, I choose public education as my institution to defend.

One way we can be sure that Trump and his minions are coming after our institutions is to see who the Tweeter-in-chief has chosen to head up various government departments. Almost to a person (Pruitt, Perry, Price), people who are opposed to the very institutions they are leading have been put in charge. If public education is to survive, we are going to have to fight for it. We cannot sit back and wait for this current nightmare to pass because by the time we wake up, it may be too late. It should be clear to all of us that the institution of public education is under a very real threat from the authoritarian Trump administration and its anti-public schools Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

The appointment of DeVos was the clearest indication from the new Trump administration that public education would be under siege. Next came the Trump budget proposal that, as Jeff Bryant reports here, strips money from after-school programs for poor children, reduces the overall budget of the department by 13%, but still finds billions of dollars for various school choice schemes.

Russ says:

Be informed.

Speak up.

Get involved.

Our institutions are under assault. One of the most vulnerable of these institutions is public education. If we do not fight for it, we will lose it. If we do fight for it, perhaps we can turn the conversation about schools around and focus on what is really causing our educational problems – income inequity, prejudice, and segregation.