Tell your senator before she or he votes on Tuesday, The Department of Education is NOT for sale

My daughters had an excellent education at public schools. Will my granddaughter be deprived of a quality education because her parents chose to become a nurse and firefighter? Tomorrow, the Senate votes.


It is morning in Ohio. Specifically, it is morning in Cincinnati, known for its three-way plus chili, its magnificent river, and an especially memorable week in my life.


Published on Feb 6, 2017
Sen. Patty Murray said Monday that her fellow Democrats would hold the floor for an all-night session. Why? To bring attention to Betsy DeVos, an embattled Trump Cabinet nominee whose vote is scheduled for Tuesday.


My strategy for obtaining the one vote required to preserve public education by defeating Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Education.

What a difference a good night sleep makes.

Last night I posted the following on FaceBook.

  1. It is time for bed. I did not sleep much last night. Keeping my eyes open is difficult. I finally have up with a strategy for defeating Trump’s nomination of billionaire and incompetent Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.
  2. The strategy is to convince moderate Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to change his mind. I have only begun to focus in on Senator Portman and how to convince him. See the effort just begun.
  3. Tomorrow is a busy day with many important obligations I can not delay. If I wake up early, I should be able to have what is in effect a brief on Senator Portman’s desk by 2 p.m. Monday.
  4. The vote is on Tuesday. Is this enough time? How can I arrange for Senator Portman to see what I have written?
  5. My pillow beckons. We will see what we will see.


“The Cincinnati Enquirer is a morning daily newspaper published by Gannett Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. First published in 1841, the Enquirer is the last remaining daily newspaper in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, although the daily Journal-News competes with the Enquirer in the northern suburbs. ”



Chuck Wicks. Stealing Cinderella.


When I entered “Cincinnati, Ohio” at the Twitter prompt, I got Chuck Wicks. Why? Chuck is from Delaware.  Chuck is popular in Cincinnati, e.g.:  “Sat February 20, 2016 – 7:00 PM. Chuck Wicks Verified-artist-flatCincinnati, OH, 2016, ‘Turning Point’ Tour Featuring Firefly Spirits at Tin Roof Live Music Joint,  Tin Roof, 160 Freedom Way E. Cincinnati, OH.”


Last night I threw a congratulatory party for myself. The Altoona Mirror published my profile of Sonny Perdue, Trump’s selection for Secretary of Agriculture. Joann Dornich brought Persian chicken. We talked about the importance of public schools for our children, for my granddaughter, and for her prospective grandchildren.


Published on Feb 5, 2017

Watch Lady Gaga goes from the roof to the stage in one of the most acrobatic & incredible Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime show performances of all time.


From The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2, 2017

Sen. Rob Portman to vote for Betsy DeVos

Sen. Rob Portman will vote for President Donald Trump’s education secretary pick Betsy DeVos, making it that much harder for Democrats to kill her nomination.

“I support Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education because during the confirmation process she committed to strongly support public education and because of her support for local control, instead of having the federal government dictate education policy at the state and local level,” Portman said in a statement Thursday morning.

Ohioans flooded Senate phone lines in Washington, hoping that Portman, of Terrace Park, would cast the deciding vote on her nomination. The Senate vote on DeVos’ nomination could come as early as Friday.

Portman’s Democratic counterpart, Sen. Sherrod Brown, opposes DeVos’ nomination. He and other Democrats are trying to delay her confirmation vote as they look for one more Republican to join in their opposition.


Senator Rob Portman’s telephone is busy. I am trying to reach his press secretary for an interview before the scheduled vote tomorrow on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.

I have just written the following to the op-editor of the Cincinnati Enquier–a paper for which I am a paid digital subscriber. Early in my courtship to Diana, the mother of my children, I spent a week in Cincinnati researching a speech on the Occupation Safety and Health Administration. An excellent OSHA inspector had cited a bread pan manufacturer. More than one employee had lost fingers or a hand while working there.

Eula Bingham, then Secretary for OSHA, had commissioned me to write for her. Later, at the Democratic Convention in San Francisco in 1984 I sat with her. She was a delegate from Ohio and while the state voted to nominate I interviewed Ohio’s governor who was wearing a yellow tie (then the trendy power tie). Eula was then President of Cincinnati’s University.

There is not much time if the vote takes place tomorrow as currently scheduled. If you are a registered Ohio voter please fill out Senator Portman’s contact form as soon as possible.

If you would like to submit a scheduling request, please click here or select “Scheduling Requests” in the Constituent Services tab at the top left of this page.


Cincinnati “Thumbs Down” Editorial

We’re disappointed to hear that Sen. Rob Portman intends to support President Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary despite concerns from many Ohio educators and constituents that she isn’t qualified. Two other Republican senators have said they won’t back Betsy DeVos, but Portman says he’s going to vote for the nominee, who has donated $51,000 to his campaign. Opponents of DeVos question both her competence and her commitment to public schools. Portman still has time to consider his choice. We hope he will arrive at the best decision for the children of Ohio and the nation, not simply party politics.


The Worst of Betsy DeVos Highlights – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, and Al Franken


[email protected]

I am a digital subscribe to the Enquirer and am fond of Cincinnati. It may be too late to submit an opinion piece on the subject of DeVos’ confirmation or not. This is CNN on the latest timing. If the vote takes place tomorrow (as currently scheduled) and if you accepted my opinion piece, is it too late for on-line publication? Note, I worked for Eula Bingham back when she served President Carter in the 1970s.

This is my blog posting on the subject.

Please feel free to edit and publish. I would prefer sending 750 words. Your editorial on the Senator Portman’s support for the nominee is encouraging. I think it unfair to criticize Senator Portman for receiving campaign contributions from Betsy DeVos. Senator Portman’s position of public funding is commendable. The Go-Fund effort implying (or inferring) that Senator Portman is on the take is unfair.

There is enough material establishing DeVos’s unfitness for the position. I believe Senator Portman is an honorable man. If he is given the opportunity to review the testimony, I think it possible he would reconsider. The op-ed I propose would be in the form of an open letter.

Best wishes,



Senate Democrats to hold floor over DeVos nomination vote

If anyone can explain why Betsy DeVos has become the most embattled nominee ever for education secretary, it’s Anna Caudill, Tennessee mother of two.

Caudill has a son with disabilities. Her public school district did such a poor job educating him, she says, that she is suing in federal court. She can’t afford a private school, so she is home-schooling him. She’s exactly the kind of parent who would seem aligned with DeVos, who believes in using public funds to help parents pay for private education.

But Caudill strongly opposes DeVos.

“Vouchers don’t come with any oversight of the schools in which they’re spent,” Caudill said. “They put the parent in the position of trading a child’s civil rights for money.”

This 44-year-old is part of the small army of parents, teachers and others around the country who have risen up against DeVos as President Trump’s nominee heads toward a breathtakingly close confirmation vote.


The popular uprising that threatens the Betsy DeVos nomination


Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut explains why public education is important to him. ‘Education is a personal issue for me – my mother was a teacher, my wife works in education, and as a parent of two school-age boys, I spend time helping with homework and attending parent-teacher conferences. And as someone who is still paying off college loans, I know the all-too-familiar feeling that families face when trying to figure out how to make college an affordable reality. That’s why I asked to be a member of the committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in the Senate – so I can be at the center of debates about our nation’s commitment to education.”

What follows is a six-minute video of Senator Murphy questioning Education nominee on performance standards for school administrators, on her work establishing FOR PROFIT companies to receive public educational money–money that pays million dollar salaries for school administrators.

Senator Murphy asks DeVos to say that guns do not belong in schools. DeVos replies that in Wyoming a public school has guns to protect students from bears–a statement that is not true. DeVos refused to condemn outright the use of guns in schools.

Do you want Betsy DeVos to be in charge of your children’s and your grandchildren’s public education? Take a look.



Grandfather Joel’s respectful procedures for opposing the DeVos Nomination

  1. Do not place a telephone call. Telephone calls are annoying. Yes, senators do keep a tally. However, to be effective, opposition must be more than a number the temp or the least paid member of the senator’s staff places on a memo pad.
  2. Write an email or fill out the contact form on your senator’s website. Hard copy letters (otherwise a sadly neglected means of communication) no longer work because of anthrax scares. By the time the senate staff opens a hard copy letter it may be the next Administration.
  3. Tell the truth. If you voted for the senator, say so. If you did not, explain why and indicate (if true) you might reconsider your next vote if the senator votes against DeVos. Be polite and respectful. The more you say about yourself the better. If you have children in school, provide their names, ages, and grades. Tell the senator the your education aspirations and those of your family. Never use obscene language. Avoid slang. Again, be respectful. Being a U.S. senator is a big deal. Your senator certainly thinks it is a big deal. Effective communication requires courtesy. Yes, of course, you may disagree, but express your disagreement politely. To get you in the mood, you might wear white gloves when you write the email.


One day later, I further advised friends and relatives who care about their children’s and grandchildren’s education how to work to stop her confirmation.

Music is preserving my equanimity. I am preparing for Valentine’s Day, an especially meaningful celebration, I have been watching Sam Cooke singing Cupid Draw Back Your Bow. Posted immediately below is the late Amy Winehouse’s performance.

Valentine’s Day will be a sad occasion unless I do what I can to secure the one requisite Republican vote required to save public education in our country from a billionaire who seeks to buy the job of Secretary of Education. Betsy DeVos’ lack of qualifications and contempt for the education of our children and grandchildren has been vividly demonstrated on video.

Two Republicans, exercising political courage, have announced they will vote No on Tuesday when DeVos’ confirmation comes up for a vote. Tuesday is very close. Tomorrow is Sunday where the Presbyterian Church invited me to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I was 14 (in 1961), an African-American minister who was a friend took me to the Ebenezar Baptist Church where Dr. King spoke about sin. I remember the sermon vividly. The sin he described is applicable to DeVos’ qualifications.

In sworn testimony, DeVos declined to uphold federal law requiring special education for disabled children. She said in the event she were confirmed, she would not regard it as necessary to make sure each school followed their legal obligations. If parents were unable to obtain special education for their disabled child locally, they could always move to a school district elsewhere.

Fifty senators have announced that on Tuesday they will vote against DeVos’ confirmation. Close, but no cigar. When there is a tie vote in the Senate, the vice president can break the tie. Vice President Mike Pence’s vote is predictable. He will vote to defeat public education if he has the opportunity to vote.

The only acceptable alternative is to persuade one Republican senator to change her or his mind. Minds are difficult to change. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, despite considerable pressure, has staed he will support the billionaire. If you are a registered voter in Pennsylvania, please go to the contact page at his website and tell your Sen. Toomey why public education is important to you.

Regardless of where you live, please join Grandfather Joel’s Ad Hoc Campaign to Protect Public Education. To join my campaign please note the following requirements.

1. You must be a registered voter. If you are not a registered voter, you can not participate in my campaign. Register as soon as possible to become a serious participant in our Republic. The advertisements for the lottery should serve by way of explanation. “You can’t win if you do not play.”
2. You must either fill out the contact form on your senator’s website or send an email. Telephone calls are too facile. Minds must be changed. To be a serious contributor to a serious effort, you must be willing to do your homework. Set aside a maximum of one hour to obtain enough information about your senator that you are communicating one-to-one. Then decide what you want to say.
3. Your written communication is most effective when you:
a) Begin by stating you are a registered voter. If you have voted for the senator, say so.
b) If you have not voted for the senator but would change your mind if the senator changes her or his mind and does vote against DeVos’ confirmation, say so.
c) Whatever you write, tell the truth.
d) If you have a child or a grandchild in school tell the senator. Provide the name and age of the child, describe your hopes and concerns about education.
4. To find the name of your senator and the location of your senator’s website, at the Google prompt, enter: “US senate [enter your state].”
5. These are the first three items that appear when you enter: “US senate Alaska”

a) U.S. Senate: _Senators of the 115th Congress…

b) This chart shows the relationships among Senate leaders and officers who manage the flow of legislative and administrative business in the Senate. Contact Your Senator .
Home | U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska

c) Official website of the U.S. Senator for Alaska, Republican party.
List of U. S. Senators From Alaska –

6. When you press the link at item a you obtain the following information.
Murkowski, Lisa – (R – AK)
Class III
522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6665

Sullivan, Dan – (R – AK)
Class II
702 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3004
7. If you are a registered voter in Alaska first go to Senator Sullivan’s website. Alaska is a special case. For other states except Maine, it does not matter which senator you go to first. However, Alaska has one Republican senator who has announced she is voting against DeVos. So, first you go to Senator Sullivan’s website. When filling out the contact form, you might add to your communication something like this: “Senator Sullivan, I note that your colleague Senator Murkoski is planning on voting against President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Education. I am writing in the hope
I can persuade you to join Senator Murkowski and vote against confirming Betsy DeVos because DeVos does not have the qualifications to insure that my daughter Grace receives an adequate education.”

Note, when opening Senator Sullivan’s website, the first thing you see is this contact form:
“Email Dan
“Please use the following form to contact me with your comments and concerns. Include your full name and address to receive a written response.”

For other senators, the contact form may be elsewhere on the website and you may need to look for it. The form is likely to be easy to find.

Note also, despite Senator Sullivan’s informality, do not address him by his first name. Be sure to address him as Senator. It is alright to use the Sen. abbreviation, but be mindful to use good manners.

Trevor Noah, Comedy Central’s Emily Post, is providing advice on etiquette. Follow his lead. For example, Noah provided advice to President Trump. President Trump is planning to visit the Queen of England later this year. Noah advised, “Whatever you do, do not grab the Queen by her pussy.”

8. If you are a registered voter in a state other than Alaska, first write to the senators in your state. For extra credit, return to Senator Murkowski and thank her for her courage in recognizing our country’s interest is greater than party interest.
9. Before writing to the senators in the state where you are registered, take the time to read their biographies. The most efficient way of doing that is to go to the Wikipedia entry for your senator.
10. You will receive extra credit for thanking Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for her loyalty to country over party.
11. Extra credit for writing to Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee suggesting he consider changing his mind. An editorial in the NYT labelled, “Wanted: One Republican With Integrity, to Defeat Betsy DeVos,” employs my rationale: “The extra Republican vote could come from one of several independent-minded senators; one candidate is Lamar Alexander, an expert on public schools who actually owes the country a good turn because of his failure as chairman of the committee vetting Ms. DeVos to question her closely and to give more time to her critics.”
12. Extra credit for writing to the press. For example, Emma Brown is the Washington Post reporter whose work I quoted in my posting. Her email is [email protected] Consider informing her of your communication with your senator. Send her modified slightly (or not at all) your communication with your senators. Or you write to another reporter.
13. Avoid driving yourself crazy. Little time remains between now and Tuesday. It is satisfactory for you to read the Wikipedia bios of your senators and focus on your written communication. Pat yourself on the back. You have my gratitude. My elder daughter became so enamored with the concept of extra credit I had to give her the moral equivalent of warm milk and an enough is enough pep talk. Do what you can do.
14. I do believe if you follow this grandfather’s suggestions, come Valentine’s Day I will be able to celebrate.

“Good night and good luck. “ This was the sign off of my hero Edward R. Murrow.








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