I am an elementary education major here at App State. I am a huge advocate for public schools and for the students these schools serve. I have very strong opinions about education and how it is practiced in the United States.
Betsy DeVos is the candidate for President Trump’s Cabinet as the Secretary of Education. DeVos’ family net worth is over $5 billion, hundreds of millions of which went to fund countless Republican campaigns. It is said that the sheer amount of money she has donated to these campaigns is what got her all the way to a nomination for Secretary of Education, and I have to agree with that statement. In her confirmation hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders made it a point to ask her whether or not she believed she would be in this postion if she hadn’t donated so much money. Judging by the fact that she has never attended or worked in a public school, nor has she sent her children to public schools, I would have to answer that question with a hard no.
DeVos is a huge supporter of vouchers to private schools. This means that she wants to give parents the right to choose where they send their children to school, whether it be private religious schools, charter schools, home-schooling, etc. That is great. Parents should be able to choose how they want their children educated, but DeVos wants to use public tax dollars that belong to public schools, to do this. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think public education needs reform to support the system, not have money taken away from it.
In this part of her confirmation hearing, Senator Tim Kaine questioned Ms. DeVos about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is an Act passed by Congress in 1975 to ensure that all children with disabilities get free, public education to meet their needs, just like any other student. IDEA is a federal law which means it is federally funded. However, DeVos believes that the way the IDEA is enforced should be left up to the states. This scares me.
This scares me because so many special education programs in public schools need help. There are students who do not get the help they need because their schools are not equipped to provide for them. Instead of paying for a student to move to a private school, why can’t we put in the much needed hard work to make sure public schools are able to provide for their students?
DeVos later stated that she may have been confused about the IDEA, saying she was unsure that it was a federal law. This not only scares, but terrifies me. Education in the United States could be run by a woman who does not understand such a crucial aspect of her job.
To me, it seems like DeVos isn’t willing to put in the effort to help schools provide for students. Her statements make her come across as lazy and complacent because of her insistence on sending students to schools that already have it figured out instead of actively doing something about fixing the problems at hand in public education.
The bottom line here is: Betsy DeVos is not the person for this job. She has neither attended, nor worked in a public school a day in her life. It takes more than being an advocate for private school vouchers to take on the position of the Secretary of Education. It takes more than being a mentor in a public school to be equipped and in charge of running our nation’s public school system.
I would identify myself as conservative when it comes to many political issues, but I do have to go with the Democrats on this one. I am a future educator and I do not support Betsy DeVos for the Secretary of Education. We need someone to be an advocate for the public schools, and someone who is willing to put in the hard work and dedication in order to fix the cracks and dents in the system instead of just sending kids away to a different school.
As an education major, I am worried about my future students in public education. I am worried that the public school system will be in shambles after Betsy DeVos is through with it, and that is not acceptable.
So far, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) committee has voted 12-11 to approve Ms. DeVos as Secretary of Education. All that is left now is the Senate vote, so if you feel so inclined, please call, write, or petition to your local Senators to stop the confirmation of this woman. The vote is currently tied at 50-50, so in order to block DeVos, only one Republican Senate vote is required. Call your local Senators now!