Ms. Betsy DeVos for Secretary or Education… If there is any single thing which Donald Trump is proposing which shows his inadequacy more than any other thing for the high office of President of the United States it his appointment to this critical office of a person who has shown for her entire life a distain for public education and for the people who keep trying year after year to make public schools work for all students who are assigned to them.
The questions asked by members of the Senate were reasonable… and predictable. Those Senators who are in the party of the nominating President-Elect asked questions that were at least weak and perhaps should have been seen as embarrassingly inadequate by everybody who heard them. The answers by Ms. DeVos to those questions were inadequate and provided little insight into her understanding of either learning and education or to management of a great program which should be designed to get young students ready to be adults, fully prepared to be citizens of a great country. Ms. DeVos is obviously a very wealthy person who has always had all the advantages of wealth as she was growing up. She fails to understand what school and schooling can be for the children of poor families who are trapped in poverty.
There are plenty of people, many of them having grown up in middle or upper income families who have education and experience that has given them insights needed to make an education program work for all people. Senator Sanders’ questions were the best. He wanted to know if Ms. DeVos would be in favor of working to make post high school education free for all students. She dodged the question by responding that nothing is free. Senator Sanders answered by saying that the question wasn’t about the cost of education but whether it should be free for all students. Ms. DeVos smiled and said something to the effect that somebody has to pay… and she dodged the question.
Poverty is THE problem. The children who grow up in families who live in comfortable, well-furnished homes, homes that are furnished with everything needed to make every member of the family comfortable, expect to be successful. That expectation makes a tremendous difference in the child’s education. In building and maintaining appropriate educational programs and facilities for children, the expectation factor must be taken into consideration. I have worked in both environments. Some of the most capable youngsters I have seen, in the schools where I have worked have grown to be successful adults. I have watched capable students at all grade levels who have come from financially stressed families grow at home and at school into successful adults. I have watched less capable students at all grade levels who have come from financially secure families manage to grow also into successful adults. The expectation factor was very important. The Secretary of Education must be a person who knows the importance of making all schools places where all students will learn to expect to become successful… with the definition of success being understood by all students.
Mary Kusler, the Senior Director of the National Education Association Center for Advocacy, sent the following advice:
“As a lobbyist and political donor, Betsy DeVos has a decades-long track record of working to undermine public education and privatize our public schools, harming students in the process.
• She favors schemes like vouchers to divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools.
• DeVos has pushed for-profit charter schools which allow corporations to profit off of taxpayers, with no real accountability.
• In Michigan, she fought for a tax cut to benefit wealthy families, even though it would result in enormous budget cuts for public schools.
We need a secretary of education who will support and strengthen public schools, fulfilling the promise of a great public school for every student, regardless of their ZIP code. Someone who wakes up every morning dedicated to students and public education.”