In fallout from his flippant remarks before a Senate Education Committee panel where he said he wanted to shake School Reform Officer Natasha Baker “like I like to shake my wife“, Gary Naeyaert has resigned from his position as Director of the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP). GLEP is a corporatist anti-public education group founded and largely funded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Democrats in the state legislature had called for Naeyaert’s resignation days before.
— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) March 7, 2017
Naeyaert issued a statement on Facebook where he apologized and called his hideous remarks “a verbal gaffe” and “a poorly-worded ad-lib and bad analogy”. Many, including me, saw his comments as revealing of a person whose first instinct is to make a “joke” about abusing women he is frustrated with.
Sam Inglot, Deputy Communications Director at Progress Michigan, the group who first revealed Naeyaert’s comments, issued this statement:
For the first time during his career at GLEP, Gary Naeyaert has done the right thing by stepping down after his comments making light of domestic violence. His comments were unwarranted and disgusting and he needed to go. However, the work that GLEP does at the behest of Betsy DeVos to dismantle public education and attack teachers in Michigan continues and must continue to be exposed as well. The DeVos model for education is based on an out-of-control, ineffective free market ideology and in turn they got a director that was out-of-control and lobbied for robbing children of an equal education during the last six years of total Republican control in Lansing. Mr. Naeyaert may be gone, but we’ll continue to scrutinize right-wing groups like GLEP and advocate for equal public education for all.
This is a great example of how the voices of resistance that have been wakened in the past four months can have a profound impact. We may not control the levers of power but, united, we are powerful and must always #RESIST wherever and whenever it’s needed.