Two Michigan House Democrats are calling for the resignation of Gary Naeyaert, the head of Betsy DeVos’s anti-public education group Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) following remarks he made at a Senate Education Committee meeting on Tuesday. GLEP was founded and is heavily funded by the billionaire Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. During his testimony, Naeyaert expressed frustration over what he perceives as a lack of action by State School Reform Officer Natasha Baker and said he “wanted to shake her, like I like to shake my wife.”
Reps. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton) and Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) released a statement today calling on Naeyaert to resign for his offensive comments which GLEP dismissively referred to as a “poor choice of words“.
In their statement, Geiss said, “The comment made by Mr. Naeyaert while testifying before the Senate Education Committee is absolutely unacceptable and intolerable. He should take full responsibility for his actions and resign from his position immediately. We are living in a world where one in three women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Casual reference to domestic violence as a valid way to change a woman’s mind should not only be unspeakable, it should be unthinkable.”
Referencing GLEP’s casual dismissal of Naeyaert’s statement, Pagan went further: “Calling Mr. Naeyaert’s comments a ‘poor choice of words’ is just as disturbing as what he actually said,” she said. Normalizing domestic violence in this way takes away the seriousness of how dangerous and sometimes deadly this crime can be. Mr. Naeyaert’s comments reflect his comfort and ease in advocating physical aggression toward women. Organizations focused on creating better education systems for our children should promote safe learning and teaching environments and should strongly condemn violence in all forms. Mr. Naeyaert’s comments were irresponsible and reprehensible, and therefore, he should resign immediately.”
Despite GLEP’s apology, Naeyaert himself has not publicly apologized. Given his history of bombast and arrogance, this comes as little surprise, I suppose.
Here is the video of Naeyaert making his odious remarks: