Last night there was a confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos to become the next Secretary of Education. From what I heard, she is totally unqualified to fill the post. And, I am not even talking about her conflicts that need to be cleared up first.
To begin with, she has absolutely no experience in teaching. She has no experience in school administration. She has no educational experience at all. Now some people claim that is a good thing in order to “shake things up”. And, there could be something to that argument if we were talking about someone with some experience at anything but being a lobbyist.
On top of all of that, she has no understanding of what it takes to administer one school much less an entire public education system. How can she honestly believe that she has any qualifications for such a task?
Her biggest claim to fame in education is her carte blanch actions she got in Michigan to get more Charter Schools up and running. Only, the law she got passed with help from conservative Republicans, doesn’t even have any supervision or accreditation involved.
For example, if you wish to open a for-profit Charter School in Michigan, you can do so without getting any accreditation before you start. Then, you don’t have any supervision about your results.
Since this law was passed, the reading levels in Michigan have declined steadily. The regular public schools in Detroit score higher on these tests as well as math and science than these for-profit Charter Schools. Yet the Charter Schools are still allowed to take in students and get their money. How is that making education for our children better?
DeVos, by her own admission, does not understand the student loan or Pell Grant programs. Yet, she will be expected to administer them. That is like asking someone who failed basic arithmetic to be your accountant.
There is also a law called IDEA which deals with special needs children. When asked if she would continue to enforce that law, she said she thinks it is up to the states and local communities to enforce it. She doesn’t even understand that this law is a Federal Law and therefore is enforced by the Federal Government since Federal dollars are used to fund it. Her answer forced a gasp from the audience.
She has also been a huge advocate to use public education dollars to pay for “private” or “Christian” schools to take in public school children. That would leave the public education without sufficient funds to educate the children that are stuck having to use public schools.
When asked if she would promise that no public education money would be used for these voucher programs, she refused to answer. Even when pushed to give a simple yes or no answer, she refused.
When she was asked about the Gun Free Zone for public schools, she said that if the president-elect repealed that law she would back his decision. Then she got really weird as to why. She said that a school in Wyoming has a problem keeping bears away and therefore probably has a gun to keep the bears away. What the hell does that have to do with Gun Free Zones for schools?
Then there were the questions about sexual assault on campuses. Schools are not required at discipline hearings to follow the “preponderance of evidence” as used in criminal courts. They use what is known as “it most likely occurred”. Of course conservatives don’t like that because they want to treat all victims like they “asked for it” like they do in court.
When asked if she would uphold such reforms, she said it was “premature” for her to make a determination on that right now. When pressed, again, she said:
If confirmed, I commit that I will be looking very closely at how this has been regulated and handled, with great sensitivity to those who are victims, and considering perpetrators as well.
There are a lot of different ideas about our public education and how best to improve it. The one thing I do not agree with is the idea that privatizing our public education is the answer. Whether you are talking about Charter Schools or Vouchers. That is merely “running away” from the problems and not doing anything to fix them.
And, no the answer isn’t just more money. The answer is to actually look at what the problems are, what is causing the problems, and then come up with solutions that will help all of our children.
You especially won’t improve education with the type of Charter Schools that DeVos helped create in Michigan where they are failing the children there. Nor will you help public education by placing a totally unqualified person in charge of the Education Department.
As I have said before, it amazes me how Republican politicians love to talk about how public education made them what they are, yet they are so willing to destroy the very institution that made them what they are. How can you brag about how great your public education was and then try to tear it down and make it go away?
I would think that you would prefer to make it possible for all of our children to get that “great” education that put you in office. But, no, they would prefer to “run away” from the problem and tell you that you are the problem because you don’t believe in privatized public education.
I have gotten to the point where I feel like I am watching the movie “Search For The Holy Grail” every time I hear Republicans talking about public education. Whenever the topic comes up, they use the same “retreat” slogan in the move. “Run away, run away!”
I spent some time as an Adjunct Professor at a college. I have more understanding about the learning environment that DeVos does. I was also part of a group that tried to put together a curriculum for a degree program that could be taught at all colleges. It is tough and difficult to say the least.
Even with those experiences, I do not believe I am qualified to be the next Secretary of Education. But, I do know enough to know that DeVos definitely is not qualified for the post either.
Education of our children is far too important to be treated like amateur night at the Roxy. We need serious professionals to look at our problems and come up with a solution to fix them.
We need to look at the schools themselves and determine if they are equipped properly. We need to look at teachers to determine just what qualifications they really need. We need to look at funding so teachers aren’t buying school supplies out of their own pockets.
Maybe we do need more funding for education. Maybe many of the problems can be fixed in other ways. We won’t know until we have serious discussions about the problems and work together to fix them. DeVos has no solutions except to run away from them.
We also need politicians who understand that we are living in a global economy, and that “local control” is not necessarily the answer to our questions if we are willing to ensure our children get the education they will need to compete globally.
During her hearing DeVos said more than once that she would be “sensitive” to the issues brought up. Sorry, I don’t want a Secretary of Education who is going to be “sensitive” to the issues. I want someone with a serious plan to make our public education the best in the world.
Running away from the problems and lining the pockets of your friends to run schools that fail our children is not a serious solution. As with most of Trump’s nominations for his cabinet, DeVos is not qualified for the position and should not be allowed any near the office she has been nominated to fill.
It is a simple equation. An unqualified person cannot fix the problems they don’t even understand. If you believe she is qualified, then the next time your plumbing backs up, call a telemarketer to fix it and see what happens.