Betsy DeVos, Education, Video, Women — March 1, 2017 at 7:14 am

(UPDATED) VIDEO: Head of Betsy DeVos’s anti-public education group testifies in Senate hearing that he likes to “shake” indecisive women


“I wanted to shake her, like I like to shake my wife.”

Gary Naeraert is the Executive Director of the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP). GLEP was founded and largely funded by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to influence policy and law in Michigan with the aim of promoting charter schools and the elimination of traditional public schools. The group consists of a PAC, a foundation, a 501(c)(3) group, and a 501(c)(4) group.

While giving testimony before a Senate Education Committee meeting yesterday, Naeyaert revealed that he likes to “shake” indecisive women, including his wife. It was an astonishing moment:

He was referring to the head of the State School Reform Office, Natasha Baker, a Snyder appointee, someone he’s clearly frustrated with.

“I wanted to shake her, like I like to shake my wife.”

Fortunately for Baker, Naeyaert would go to jail if he assaulted her in this way. Naeyaert’s casual, laughing reference to shaking his wife when she can’t decide which restaurant she wants to go to raises serious questions about his situation with her, however.

Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan, excoriated Naeyaert, calling on him to publicly apologize:

The head of GLEP will likely say he was making a joke, but in what world is domestic violence funny? He was addressing a committee in the Michigan Senate, but he seemed to think he was with Billy Bush on the Access Hollywood bus. Naeyaert should apologize for his comments and explain why he thought invoking images of domestic violence was relevant in a discussion about education. Also, making decisions about school closures, which will affect students and neighborhoods for years to come, is not the same as deciding which chain restaurant you want to eat at for dinner.

Gary Naeyaert represents and leads a group formed by Betsy DeVos to destroy public schools and reshape them in the image she has for them: for-profit charters and private religious schools that use our tax dollars to enrich the people running them. And it appears, by his own admission, that he is a perpetrator of domestic violence against his wife.

UPDATE: Ironically, GLEP’s twitter account (likely run by Naeyaert himself) tweeted this out yesterday morning before his testimony:

“Character education”??? Sounds like a curriculum Naeyaert himself should be taking.

UPDATE 2: GLEP has officially apologized for Naeyaert’s offensive remarks:

  • Mike Reade

    Anyone who has interacted with Naeyert knows that he has a serious anger problem. He is a liability for that organization.

  • MightyMoo

    Hope he ends up in jail for spouse abuse.

  • Bob West

    “Poor choice of words”? You mean you’re sorry he told the truth about his abusive behavior? That’s not a poor choice of words, that’s an admission of guilt. What you need to apologize for, GLEP, is being associated with this abusive, misogynistic person.

  • David Wright

    It’s amazing that people who claim to be and fight for others to be so kind hearted and non-judgmental would say these things about a person that they don’t know. This man made a mistake in the words that he chose PERIOD!. “Serious anger problems”… unbelievable that you label it that when someone is passionate about their work. Shame on you people trying to crush him like this. I know him and his wife personally and Violence has never been something that he is as a person to his Conservative or LIBERAL friends.

    • Oh, give me a damn break. Naeyaert made a joke about “shaking” not one, but TWO women he found obnoxiously indecisive. It wasn’t a poor choice of words. It was an inappropriate “joke”, the type that might have been “funny” three decades ago but shouldn’t even be done by accident in this day and age. Gary Naeyaert needs to evolve with the rest of us. As a man and the son of a woman who was repeatedly shaken and beaten bloody by her husband, I am offended and disgusted by his domestic abuse “hilarity.”

    • Mike Reade

      He’s an asshole. An angry, smug asshole. And yeah, he’s passionate about ruining education for as many poor minorities as possible, which was evidenced by his black DPS students can’t spell Zemke comment. You have poor choice in friends.