Of all the contentious and partisan issues facing our country, this should not be one of them. Education stands at the very heart of what will make America great, or what will destroy it. Yet, Betsy DeVos’ confirmation stands at 50/50 with only TWO Republicans voting against her.
This is unconscionable. EVERY American should be outraged and frightened at the prospect. EVERY American should calling their representatives to stop DeVos from getting control of education in this country. And here’s why.
1. She’s unqualified.
· She has no experience in education
· She has no advanced degrees in education
· She has no experience or working knowledge of public schools, let alone inner-city schools and the challenges they face.
DeVos is a billionaire fundraiser who got this nomination from a fellow billionaire as thanks for her support. She has no experience and no knowledge of the department over which she would be in charge. Her privileged childhood and education experiences are the only things that set her apart from most other Americans. She is being rewarded for being wealthy.
2. She has one plan – vouchers.
Though I attended public schools, I put my two kids in private school through 6th and 8th grades, respectively. Back then, as a conservative, vouchers would have been great. I spent roughly $12,000 a year on school tuition and other expenses. Though the early years were a struggle, I could afford it. Most parents cannot. And here are the problems with that.
The voucher program only pays for part of tuition.
That means money is taken out of the public school fund and given to parents who otherwise couldn’t afford private school. As a middle-class American, if you think that’s a good idea, consider that 63% of middle-income families are “only way paycheck away from the street.” If you can’t cover the balance, you kids will be kicked out of the private school and back into the public school system where they now have even less money to pay for a decent education. According to the Council for American Private Education, private schools account for 25% of the nations schools only enrolling about 10% of Pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. The average price of tuition, per child, in the 2011-2012 school year, was $13,640.
Low-income and middle-income schools and kids would take the hit
In areas where property taxes foot the bill for education, income and rents are low. Vouchers would divert what little money there is from students and families who need it the most. Already, according to the Department of Education, 40% of low-income schools are not getting the money they need from state and local agencies.
3. She has no idea what she’s up against.
Americans have been lagging behind in education for years. Most Americans are not qualified for the 21st century job market (as evidenced by DeVos’s resume above). According to PISA, the Program International Student Assessment, an education assessment performed every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American students ranked 35th in math and science out of 64 countries.
The tech industry recently scoffed at Donald Trump’s executive order against immigrants because they mostly rely on immigrants to bring the expertise they need for innovation. Technical skills aside, 60% of hiring managers in one survey said critical thinking and problem-solving skills was the most pressing problem with new hires. Our economic problem is not that jobs are leaving, it’s that Americans are woefully untrained and uneducated. The need for education is diverse. Speaking as a trained educator, the job is daunting and not cut out for someone who is handed the job like getting a new car from her daddy for graduating high school.
3. Did I mention she’s unqualified?
The Hill, a conservative news agency, believes DeVos will bring “opportunity, fairness to education.” It cited Obama’s failed school and grants program as evidence that DeVos could do better. The program was actually initiated by George Bush, and Obama tried to spruce it up by adding more money. There were many problems with the program from the beginning, and, unlike DeVos, Obama’s Secretary of education, Arne Duncan, held a sociology degree from Harvard and spent his life in and around education. If he struggled to make improvements, what could DeVos possibly have to offer?
· She has no experience with low-income schools, let alone people.
· She has no experience with special education
· She has no experience working with unions and teachers
· She has no working knowledge of the challenges middle-class families face in education
· She has no experience with student loans
· She has no experience with diversity or the needs of diverse populations
And as the Tennessean pointed out…
“During the three-hour [confirmation] 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.”
If your congressman isn’t voting against Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education, call them, email them and make sure they know this is a very bad decision for YOU and the rest of America.
Photo: Getty Images