Donald Trump continues to stun and mystify many Americans with his cabinet nominations, including his choice to head the Department of Education. Betsy DeVos is Trump’s pick for this important role, which oversees equal access to education for students at all levels of learning across the country. A billionaire investor and Michigan lobbyist, DeVos has a long history of gutting public education and trying to steer millions of dollars to private and charter schools through the use of vouchers.
Devos’s experience and lack of knowledge shows that she is completely unqualified or prepared to take on the duties and responsibilities of the US Secretary of Education. A contentious confirmation hearing, during which DeVos was thoroughly questioned about her philosophies and goals as education secretary, reinforced the many ways that DeVos would actually fail education in the United States. Here are just eight of the ways that Betsy DeVos is a terrible choice to lead the Department of Education.
DeVos Does Not Believe in Free Public Education
In fact, it’s difficult to find anybody more passionate about taking money from public schools than DeVos. For the last 30 years, DeVos has lobbied to give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend religious and private schools. Instead of providing and improving free public education in the state of Michigan, all of her money and effort have been spent on establishing new models that do not deliver in quality or basic education standards.
DeVos Supports School Choice, Which has Failed for 20 Years
The Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids school districts have been laboratories for school choice, including DeVos’ efforts in school choice. The state spends a billion dollars in education funding on charters each year, of which 80% are run by for-profit organizations. Over the past two decades, charter schools continue to perform below the state average and reading and math scores have consistently dropped. There is little oversight to these schools.
DeVos is not Qualified as an Educator or Education Leader
Like Trump, DeVos has no experience in the field in which she might soon be working. She has no experience in education except as a lobbyist. She has no knowledge of pedagogy or school governance or curriculum. She has no relevant credentials or experience.
DeVos does not Have a Stance on the Purpose of Test Scores
For decades, education professionals have debated the purpose of test scores in the public school system. Specifically, if test scores should be used to measure student growth or proficiency, as well as if these scores should be used as an accountability tactic for instructors. She had no input on this issue.
Devos Will Not Protect Students and Taxpayers from For-Profit Programs
When asked how DeVos would protect students and families from waste, abuse, and fraud from for-profit universities – such as Trump University – she agreed that she should be vigilant. When pressed as to the actions she would take to show said vigilance, she didn’t know that there are already rules and laws in the books that simply need to be enforced. And she had no ideas on how to enforce these rules.
DeVos does not Believe in Equal Accountability
Because traditional schools receive money from the federal government, they are required to meet certain standards of accountability. DeVos does not agree that private and charter schools should be held to equal standards of accountability if given federal funds.
DeVos does not Understand the IDEA
The IDEA is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the law that requires public schools to provide free and appropriate education to all students wit disabilities. DeVos claimed that states should decide whether or not to enforce this landmark law, even though it is a federal civil right. When questioned, DeVos didn’t know anything about this law or its requirements.
DeVos Believes that Schools need Guns to Fight Grizzly Bears
The internet will never let Betsy DeVos forget the assertion that guns may be needed in schools to fight grizzly bears. When pressed about her opinion regarding whether or not guns should be allowed in schools, she said, “I will refer back to Sen. [Mike] Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies.” She pledged support to Trump should he remove gun-free zones around schools.