Political Perspectives: Debate on DeVos

Political Perspectives: Debate on DeVos

Rebecca Dupree | Contributing Writer

As the Senate prepares for the vote over Secretary of Education nominee, Betsy DeVos, many education representatives are weary of her abilities to run and comprehend what her job will entail – yet Republicans have pushed through enough support to allow her to reach a full Senate hearing, even though she has no experience in public education, no prior teaching experience and has invested over $200 million dollars in private Christian schools and organizations.

North Carolina’s recently elected state superintendent, Mark Johnson, stated on his Facebook page, “[Devos] has drawn especially intense criticism. She’s a billionaire philanthropist who supports vouchers and charter schools and has no experience with traditional public schools.” He went on to call upon how her responses at the Senate hearing struck many observers as uninformed and lacking any basic knowledge about the public education system. When asked about his support for DeVos, Johnson didn’t hesitate a second to say, “I support her.”

Many citizens believe that DeVos idealizes a racially exclusive division, due to her substantial support in school choice. According to the Civil Rights Project, a testament of journals from studies done by students at UCLA, racial segregation in schools has tripled in schools labeled as “severely racially isolated” – meaning that those schools have between zero to 10 percent white students.

DeVos’ support in the ideals of school choice have caused many upper middle class white families to flee cities in response to being in majority minority schools, allowing them to segregate themselves.

DeVos also can be deemed unqualified due to her deeply concerning response to Democratic Senator Al Franken when he asked if schools and students should be assessed on growth or proficiency – a debate that has been at the forefront of our education system for many years now. DeVos’ answer showed her clear confusion between the two measures of teacher and school effectiveness.

If the sheer lack of knowledge and experience DeVos has isn’t convincing enough, she advocated for guns in schools, citing the possibility “to protect from potential grizzlies.” While this argument can be battled elsewhere, the fact still lies that Betsy DeVos is so dedicated to the Republican Party that rather than neglecting to answer the question she clearly didn’t have a rational response to, she chose to result to an absurd theory instead to maintain the support from the Republican Party.

While DeVos’ potential confirmation will likely be devastating for the American public school system, participation in government has increased since the announcement of her nomination. Senator Tim Kaine alone reported that he has received over 30,000 letters and phone calls, all pertaining to Betsy DeVos. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, also reported an unusual volume of calls and letters, but she stated that those could be present for “any number of reasons,” not just DeVos’ hearing.

If DeVos is confirmed, she will be in charge of maintaining and growing the education system for around 90 percent of America’s youth – a system she herself didn’t go through or put her own kids through, a system she herself has never worked for. DeVos’ confirmation would be a letdown to teachers, students and anyone who aspires to continue to maintain and grow the American education system.