On Tuesday February 7th, the United States Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos. Vice President Mike Pence cast a rare vote to break the 50/50 tie on the floor. So we asked ourselves, what is the future of the American educational system? Can it get any worse? America is currently 14th in literacy, 25th in mathematics & 17th in science in global rankings. Who better to ask about the future of our education than the educators themselves. We asked a select group of teachers in the United States a series of 4 questions regarding the nomination of the new Secretary of Education.
When looking at Betsy DeVos non-existent experience at public schools, our first thought was: what do the public-school teachers think about Betsy DeVos? We were asked to keep names confidential for personal reasons.
“Betsy DeVos is a dangerous selection as Secretary of Education as she is horribly unqualified for the position. She does not have an education degree. She has no experience in education. She has never attended a public school, sent all her kids to private schools. Additionally, she and the DeVos family have used their billions of dollars to donate to the Republican party. It gives the appearance that she bought the votes of these senators in order to win her confirmation.”
(Photo: Last minute donations to GOP members before DeVos nomination)
Just as the rest of his cabinet selections, Betsey DeVos has bought her position without any actual experience in the field. This both sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations, and risks the future of this countries educational system. The fact that she has no degree in education, yet she is being crowned as Secretary of Education, is simply astonishing. We asked the teachers what they believe the long-term effects of the Betsy DeVos nomination will be for our country.
“The best-case scenario would be disorganization – which in itself is bad, but most likely there will be a team that will be helping Ms. DeVos dismantle the system. One bad outcome would be the implementation of vouchers. Vouchers would allow taxes be redirected to any private school system if parents find their public school not up to their standards, or if they would rather be at another school of their choice. Vouchers would drain the public schools of funds which they already are lacking. Additionally, should a family decide they want to go to a school based off of a religious curriculum, it has a potential to violate the separation of church and state.”
Betsy DeVous has no experience in the field of public-schooling, but she does appear to have a strong interest in Charter Schools. What are Charter Schools? Each Charter School normally has its own individual focus. These are independently ran K-12 schools that claim to help students get the help they wouldn’t receive in public schools. Our next question was in regards to their feelings towards DeVos’ history with Charter Schools in Michigan.
“Having been a teacher at a charter school, I can say that some models work, others don’t. The best I can say is that the those who are in charge, the CEOs of the entire system, can either lift the schools to success or totally undermine the entire mission of the school if they are too concerned in their profits as a bottom line. I was assaulted at my school, I saw forging of documents, bounced paychecks, tax fraud, and experienced illegal workplace conditions… all while the CEO hired family members and came to school in a Rolls Royce, decked out in a fur coat.
At the same time, I have many friends that have been teaching at charter schools and have been there for years. They work hard, the students work hard, and the administration works just as hard as everyone else – not just for a paycheck.”
Financial issues are one of the most common dilemmas found in schools throughout the nation. They’re either receiving adequate resources and not using those funds wisely, or the school is actually struggling with lack of committed financial aid. Perfect examples of wasted school funding are several million-dollar football fields in Texas. These students are earning an education to learn about how to contribute in life. Their main priority isn’t, and shouldn’t, be the extracurricular sporting events. In my opinion, focus should we changed from sports to the science and math tournaments. Teach students valuable information that will help us compete to better the planet for future generations.
“No matter who has been in office, it’s never enough. As the years go on, we have so many more mandates that we have to fulfill and benchmarks to achieve with little to no additional funding. We also have to take into account that the Department of Education also funds postsecondary education and educating those with disabilities. If we want to invest in the future of the country, we need to make sure that all sectors of education are accounted and are accountable.”
In the end it would seem most have a justifiably bleak interpretation of Betsy DeVos’s nomination to be Secretary of Education. It is very frightening to think she was allowed after the tie was broken. It was very clear that there was a divide among the floor. Together, in states and local communities, we must rally together to better our local education systems. As Sen. Sanders said, “All change begins from the bottom on up”. We must bring the change that we want for the future generations of this country. We must show “Donny” what it means to “Make America Great Again”.
OMB National Priorities Project
Deseret News Analysis