Betsy DeVos Not Good for Future of Public Education

Students+work+in+Pam+Arrington%27s+5th+period+Business+and+Information+Management+class+on+Jan.+11%2C+2017%2C+Argyle+High+School%2C+Argyle%2C+Texas.+%28Elli+Marusa%2FPhotographer%2FThe+Talon+News%29

©The Talon News | Elli Marusa

Students work in Pam Arrington's 5th period Business and Information Management class on Jan. 11, 2017, Argyle High School, Argyle, Texas. (Elli Marusa/Photographer/The Talon News)

Christopher Piel, Sports Editor

In the first month of his term, President Donald Trump was able to get his pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, confirmed in the Senate. In this historic event, the Vice President cast the tie-breaking vote to place DeVos in her cabinet position. The Michigan billionaire has some views that differ from many others in the past who have been in the role. DeVos is not a good person to run the Department of Education, and she has the potential to do harm to the future of public education.

While she has several conflicts of interest in her new government job, that is not the most troubling thing about DeVos. In fact, it’s difficult to say what exactly is because of her significant lack of qualifications in regards to overseeing public education. She has never been educated in a public school system herself: both her high school and college degrees are from private schools. She has never been an educator or overseen a school system. This does not seem like a qualified past for a woman who will be overseeing public education in this country. However, her past does help to explain her views on the education system. Formerly, DeVos was a prominent lobbyist in favor of school vouchers and charter schools.

Based in her home state of Michigan, DeVos advocated for private school vouchers paid for by public funds. Her influence was a strong force in the decline of Michigan’s public education system. DeVos’ views reflect an attitude of giving up on the public school system. The belief in rescuing only a few kids from bad public schools and placing them into private schools with tax dollars is simply not a good one for the future of education. DeVos now has enough power to change the system as a whole, and she should not have such negative views of public schooling and its value. The Department of Education should have aspirations of reforming the schools that are not performing well rather than picking out a small group of students to move into private schools, so that everyone in public school has a chance to get the education they deserve.

As a proponent of charter schools, DeVos supported their rise in Michigan, where many of them recorded below average test scores. These schools are not a good model for the nation to follow. DeVos’ position gives her so much influence in the future of public education, and she holds the dangerous view that privatizing public education is the answer to under-performing public schools. It simply is not an acceptable solution. Children with special-needs are protected in public schools under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education) Act, which grants them a free education of appropriate standards. The protections of the IDEA Act do not apply in private schools, and undermining the public school system would be a terrible disservice to the special-needs community.

Aside from DeVos’ incompetence and inexperience, her views spell trouble for the future of the education system. The President should rethink his choice and try to give the job to someone that is qualified and ready to reform, not privatize.

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