Fairly recently, Betsy Devos was confirmed by the Senate to become the new Secretary of Education. It was decided 51-50. The tie was broken by an unprecedented vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence, upsetting numerous constituents and legislators who've worked thoroughly to oppose President Trump's nominee. Many have voiced their opinions and questioned Devos's background, qualifications, and intentions in the education field. The major public pushback with this choice of Secretary of Education, driven largely by opinions present in the media, will become the basis of protecting and promoting the success of our U.S. schooling systems.
So what makes (or what would make) a good Secretary of Education? I'm proposing a hypothetical alternative to Betsy Devos that I believe would work so much better in this position for our education system: Barnard Professor Rachel Throop. Here's why I think she deserves the Secretary of Education position more than Betsy Devos in two simple points:
1. She understands the system.
Professor Throop holds a joint Ph.D. in Anthropology and Education. Not only does she hold a commendable degree that qualifies her in appropriate fields of study, she has the experience. She has both studied and taught at well-acclaimed U.S. institutions such as University of Pennsylvania and Temple University (and of course, Barnard College of Columbia University). Though it's not technically necessary for the Secretary of Education to have worked as a teacher, I think that someone who has so much authority over the schooling system should definitely have some experience guiding a classroom.
2. She understands the students.
This is far more important to being a good Secretary of Education, I believe. Professor Throop is well-versed in discussing education in conjunction with social class and social inequality. Her pedagogical approach, which is indicative of her intentions in the education field, takes into account the unique thoughts and identities of her students. She lectures so confidently and intelligently, while never forgetting to encourage students to participate in or even create meaningful discussions. As a student of hers, I felt like my ideas were genuinely valued.
Within my first semester at Barnard College, being in Rachel Throop's Educational Foundations course has changed my mind not only on this single professor but also on the education system as a whole. She urged us to think more critically of the needs of our students and how we can make schools more equitable and accessible. I think that's exactly what we need in someone who's responsible for the U.S. Department of Education, not someone who infamously is known for never interacting with our public schools.