Many teachers and students here at Branham were chagrined to hear that billionaire Betsy DeVos was sworn in as President Trump’s Secretary of Education on Feb. 7.
Now, DeVos may not be a horrible person, but I do think she is a horrible fit for the job.
The Department of Education has several limited roles in the nation’s education system, since education is chiefly controlled by state and local governments.
One of the most concerning factors is that DeVos has never attended, taught in, managed, or founded a public school, as noted by NPR senior editor Cory Turner.
So how can Americans expect her to improve the state of public and private education when she has had no inside experience with the former? I’d prefer someone who is well-versed in public education, and has enough faith in the system to send her own children there.
There’s nothing wrong with private schools. I should know! Until my sophomore year, the entirety of my education was conducted in private Christian institutions. Unfortunately, DeVos is extremely biased in favor of private schools and charter schools. For goodness sake, she and her husband founded their own public charter high school in 2010, called West Michigan Aviation Academy.
During her senate confirmation hearing, DeVos was sadly unable to promise Sen. Patty Murray (D) that she wouldn’t “cut a single penny from public education.”
In her prepared remarks at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 27, DeVos said that she wants “to return power in education back to where it belongs: with parents, communities, and states”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this desire except when that means she is unwilling to make federal ground rules–such as banning guns from school campuses or allowing transgender students to use their preferred restroom.
Another point of concern is what appears to be a lack of knowledge of common education acts, such as the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
One of DeVos’s biggest passions is the advocacy for school choice. She was chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s leading school choice advocacy group, and her solution is to boldly fix America’s “broken education system by giving parents more options for their children’s education”.
“Parents no longer believe that a one-size-fits-all model of learning meets the needs of every child,” DeVos said. “And they know other options exist, whether magnet, virtual, charter, home, faith-based or any other combination.”
According to DeVos’ official website, AFC’s work has resulted in placing over one million children in the school of their parents’ choice, instead of being forced by their zip code to attend a school (public is implied) that failed to meet their needs.
The glaring problem is that it does absolutely nothing to fix public schools. Instead of giving parents more choice, perhaps we need to make sure that the current choices are good ones! Instead of giving parents higher-quality options, America needs to improve the quality of public education first so parents don’t have to look for other options.