As an education major, I follow the political side of the field pretty closely. The people in charge of local, state, and federal education make decisions that directly affect my future career, my future students, and my brother, who is currently in junior high. That is why I have been following the process of Betsy DeVos' nomination as President Trump's Secretary of Education closely from the beginning. I don't disagree with everything she stands for; for example, I believe in school choice. However, I do not believe in school choice at the cost of our public schools, like DeVos seems to. I do not believe she is qualified to lead our Department of Education, and after her confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Health and Education Committee last week, my opinion hasn't changed. Here's why DeVos should not be anywhere near our DOE.
1. She has no teaching experience.
This has irked me for a long time, and I'm not just talking about DeVos' lack of experience. Across the country, we have people who have little to no in-classroom experience outside of being a student making decisions about education. It doesn't make sense. No one knows education better than the teachers and principals who are in the schools on a daily basis, working with students, parents, and each other. Why aren't they being consulted on these major decisions about education? Why aren't the multitude of them who are involved in politics being put forward as nominees for these critical positions?
2. She has zero experience with public schools.
Neither DeVos nor her children ever attended a public school, K-12 or college, and a majority of her work within the school system has been with private or charter schools. Despite this, she is going to be in charge of America's public schools?
3. She does not believe in public schools.
DeVos has said that public schools are a "dead end." If you don't believe in them, then how are you supposed to work to improve them? Additionally, she cannot commit that she will not work to privatize or cut money from them.
4. She has no experience with FAFSA or student loans.
Neither DeVos nor her children had to take out a loan to pay for their higher education. This isn't exactly a dealbreaker for me except for the fact that she doesn't seem to know much about how to handle student loans.
5. She does not believe that all federally funded schools should meet the conditions of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.
Do I even need to comment on the importance of this one?
6. She has no plans.
"If confirmed, I look forward to working with you/reviewing, etc." were the most common phrases DeVos uttered throughout the hearing. She has had several weeks to look into what's involved in this position and to begin to make plans for what she would do if confirmed. It's clear that she hasn't and/or doesn't know much about the plans and programs the Senators were asking about. It's also clear that she does not want to come out and say "no" when she does not agree with the Senators. If you disagree, at least own it.
7. She believes guns have a place in schools.
Um, no. Just... no. (The example she gave of the school on an Indian reservation in Wyoming possibly needing guns to protect against grizzly bears wasn't even relevant. Senator Enzi mentioned earlier that the school had an electric fence surrounding it to protect students from grizzly bears.)
8. She does not believe that public colleges and childcare should be free/affordable.
I can understand the difficulty in making them free, (although I would be willing to pay higher taxes in order to see that they (and healthcare, too) end up being free) but affordable? Come on. That's a no-brainer. The amount of debt students and parents are going into, the burden that costly childcare puts on parents, is ridiculous.
9. She does not know the difference between growth and proficiency (or how much student debt has increased over the last eight years).
You've got to know the terminology of the field...and the figures, too.
10. She supports for-profit schools receiving federal funding.
I don't support for-profit schools. I definitely don't support them getting the funding a public school in a low-income neighborhood so desperately needs.
11. She cannot commit to upholding the 2011 guidance document issued in regard to Title IX and a university's responsibilities when it comes to sexual assault on campus.
Again... do I really need to comment on the importance of this one? (Especially as a woman.)
12. All the work she says she's done to improve schools in Detroit, MI? That might not be true.
I read an article from The Washington Post which points to the results of DeVos' efforts being less than stellar. That and these statistics shared by Senator Michael Bennet made me question how accurate DeVos' track record really is.
Education is one of the most important parts of our society. It shapes and prepares future generations to continue to lead America and the world. We owe it to our children and students and future children and students to continue to improve it. I do not believe that we can do that with DeVos in charge. There are many other concerning things that she said..just search for videos of the hearing on YouTube. If you feel the same, please consider writing to your Senator by clicking here. It might not make a difference, but at least you were able to voice your opinion.