A political issue I care about today is President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary nominee, Besty Devos. As a high school student, I reject any suggestion that Betsy DeVos is qualified to become the next U.S. secretary of education. She is completely wrong for America’s public school students.I find her unfit for the job. This decision impacts me personally because of the fact I am a student. She is another billionaire, who has pressed to expand charter schools and taxpayer-funded receipts for private and religious schools. She has no professional experience in public schools. She has never attended public schools or sent her own children to public schools. She also has not held public office. As the most inexperienced and untested nominee for secretary of education in U.S. history, DeVos threatens to upend America’s public education system with plans that are worrisome at best and insidiously destructive at worst. She has no government experience and no experience running or managing a bureaucracy or large organization. Instead, DeVos has spent much of her adulthood donating millions to politicians so that she can in turn lobby them to support her favorite pet cause: vouchers that give money to conservative religious schools with zero strings attached. To those who argue that maybe an outsider’s perspective is what is needed in Washington, that only works when we are talking about a proven leader who has a track record of effectiveness –such as a military general with strategic prowess, a transformational CEO or a superintendent who successfully improved a major school system. DeVos fails to meet these criteria. DeVos also revealed that she didn’t understand a basic tenet of one of the most important education laws, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. No plans or vision, except for outdated and ineffective policies that are harmful to public education. She dodged basic questions at the hearing, to the point of ridicule. he wants to divert money now spent on public education – which is guaranteed for all students – to private schools that can turn students away or kick them out because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, a disability that is an inconvenience to school personnel, any behavior they deem problematic or essentially any other reason of their choosing. Given that a significant chunk of the country has no access to private school options, this plan will also mean significantly fewer education dollars overall in many areas, often in districts that simply cannot afford to lose funding. Even most voucher advocates have now moved away from the model that DeVos continues to espouse for these and other reasons.It is not partisan, unfair or desperate to oppose DeVos’ nomination. Rather, it is born out of a real fear that putting DeVos in charge of the nation’s public schools could inflict severe harm on our nation’s most vulnerable students. DeVos embarrassed herself on her support for guns in schools, becoming an internet meme when she invoked the need to defend schools against grizzly bears. This is not the type of leader that is best for our public schools. The appointment of DeVos would undermine our mission and cause great harm to our public schools. Of course, her positions pose a far greater threat than any imaginary bears. During the three-hour hearing, she refused to pledge to maintain public funding for public schools; evaded commitments to the educational rights of students with disabilities in schools receiving public funds; muddled the distinction between measures of student learning (which are commonly understood and very consequential in the lives of teachers and students); and casually overestimated by 800 percent the increase in student debt over the last eight years. She keeps dodging questions about campus sexual assault and free college tuition. DeVos supports vouchers that would give lower-income students across America $12,000 each to put towards private school tuition, including religious schools.
April 16, 2017