On Feb. 7, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie by voting in favor of Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education. DeVos, a billionaire with no personal experience with public schools and a strong advocate for voucher programs and charter schools, has been confirmed to be responsible for the education of our nation’s youth.
Public schools: what happens now?
The confirmation of DeVos have left those who support public schools, send their children to public schools, and work in public school districts are concerned for what’s to come now that DeVos has the power.
Some of those people who are frightened attend and work at Albright College.
Emma Morrill, a junior Early Childhood Education major is worried about her future.
“I planned to teach in a public school after graduation,” Morrill states. “Any public school will be even more underfunded after she takes over. Any parent should be opposing this decision. All DeVos cares about is profit and benefits for the richest in society. Low income students and families are not a priority.”
Kayla Sargent, also a junior studying Early Childhood Education, is concerned about what will happen to her after graduation now that DeVos is in our schools.
“I am directly affected by this election. I go to a school that is nearly $50,000 to get a teaching certificate in hopes of being a Pre-K to 4th grade classroom teacher in a public school,” comments Sargent. “I am very, very afraid for what the future of education holds with DeVos in office. She wants to bring guns to our schools, and doesn’t seem to care much for children with disabilities. This is also a woman who believes teachers make too much money, when in reality, they make next to nothing. One year of my college tuition is more than what my yearly salary will be.”
Not only are current education students who are getting ready to begin their careers afraid for what’s to come, parents are afraid too.
Dr. Katherine Lehman, a professor at Albright College and parent of children in public schools, expresses her concern for the education of her children.
“As a parent I’m really concerned,” states Lehman. “My children are in Muhlenberg school district which has large class sizes already, the struggles you see in many suburban or urban schools. And so the question is will the same supports be in place that we have taken for granted? I know that many of my friends who have children with disabilities or special needs certainly are concerned that those aren’t going to be supported.”
Qualifications? All that matters are deep pockets and conservative beliefs.
DeVos not only has no personal experience with public school, she also has no personal experience with financial aid and the process of applying for it. The only thing she does have experience with is supporting the Republican Party by donating millions of dollars, thus guaranteeing her the position as Secretary of Education.
Devos was quoted, as stated in the Huffington Post, that “she wanted to confront the education culture ‘in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.'” Her husband. Dick DeVos, also stated that it’s “certainly our hope that more and more churches will get more and more active and engaged in education.'”
Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Did all the rules go out the window when an unqualified billionaire was sworn in to be responsible of the education of our nation’s youth?
Her actions: exposed.
The Washington Post published an article in early December about what DeVos did to education in her home state, Michigan as a precaution to the nation about what she may do if confirmed as the Secretary of Education.
No one listened.
Detroit, the nation’s largest urban network of charter schools, offers parents plenty of choices of where they would like to send their children to school. The only high school left in Brightmoor is the charter school, Detroit Community School. This high school has terrible test scores and a superintendent who earned $130,000 a year without educational experience or credentials.
On the west side of the state, Hope Academy, yet another charter school, has been around for 20 years. In those 20 years, the school’s test scores have been among the lowest in the date throughout its operation. According to the article, in 2010, it ranked in the first percentile, the bottom for academic performance. Despite the astronomically low test scores, the charter was renewed.
Schools of choice are schools that open their doors to children who live outside of the district boundaries. This can be helpful to some, but in Detroit, it’s counteractive since the children who depend on public transit are too far away from the state’s top performing school districts.
Those districts don’t even participate in the the schools of choice program.
[Schools of Choice were] created by an ideological lobby that has zealously championed free-market education reform for decades, with little regard for the outcome. And at the center of that lobby is Betsy DeVos, the west Michigan advocate whose family has contributed millions of dollars to cause the school choice and unregulated charter expansion throughout Michigan.
Now that she has been sworn in as the Secretary of Education, are public schools going to be her “schools of choice” to focus on?
Voucher programs: the loophole.
The LA Times published an article on February 9th, 2017 stating that if you care about public education, you should now be worried since it lies in the hands of DeVos.
DeVos is a big advocate of voucher schools. But what are voucher schools? Voucher schools are private schools that have applied for state-funded programs that pay for the tuition for either some or all of it’s student body.
Although voucher schools receive federal funding, they still don’t have to follow the regular guidelines that public schools have to follow, since they are still defined as “private.”
“Voucher schools operate by separate rules, with minimal public oversight or transparency,” the article states. “They can sidestep basic constitutional protection such as freedom of speech, and do not have to provide the same level of second-language or special-education services.”
Voucher schools also have the ability to suspend or expel students without legal due processes, and can completely disregard state law prohibiting discrimination against students based on sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or marital or parental status.
More or less, voucher schools are the loophole is allowing private school to receive federal funding while giving them the access to basically do as they please with curriculum and religious beliefs.
Time will tell what DeVos will do now that she oversees the education of this country. If her being confirmed as the Secretary of Education and the election of our new President tells our country anything, its that money may not be able to buy you love, but it sure can buy you power.