Opinion: Why Betsy DeVos is a Controversial Pick for Secretary of Education

Elise Foster

Betsy DeVos’ name has been strewn across media headlines and shoved in our faces on almost all social media platforms – and the attention is not positive. DeVos’ name has special meaning to us, particularly to students, since she is now the secretary of education.

DeVos is arguably the most controversial of President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. The fact that she has officially been sworn-in as the secretary of education has teachers, parents and students alike scared out of their wits.

For those of you who tend to shy away from reading The New York Times, or watching CNN, or even using Facebook, where DeVos is mentioned daily, here are a few of the reasons why her nomination and selection for the position are so controversial. One frequent argument that protesters tend to focus on is the fact that DeVos is an education lobbyist. This may sound like a good thing in theory. After all, the job of an education lobbyist is to bring awareness to teachers unions and teachers’ needs across the country. But DeVos tends to focus primarily on private schools and charter schools. We all know what a private school is (I mean, we’re all attending one right now) and consequently how how they place a price tag on a “quality education.” Charter schools are quite different.

Charter schools are public, government funded schools with a twist. They operate essentially independently of a state’s public school system and therefore can choose their own curriculum. This all may seem fine and dandy, and you may be wondering “well, why should any of this matter?” It matters because if DeVos focused primarily on private and charter schools prior to her nomination, is she going to contribute more funding and attention to them now that she is the secretary of education? The most popular answer to this question is yes.”

So, Betsy DeVos wants to focus all of the government’s time and money on charter and private schools, big deal,” some might say. This isn’t just a big deal, it’s a huge deal! Any parent with children in the public school system or public school teachers (or aspiring public school teachers, like myself) should be immensely concerned with what this means for the future of public education systems across America. After all, running a public school costs money, hiring qualified teachers to teach in public schools costs money, after-school programs cost money and sufficient supplies cost money. Overall, in order for public schools to function, teachers need to get paid.

It is scary to think that DeVos may not contribute to the cause of the public education system and insure the majority of youth in America receive a well-rounded education. Detroit is an example of what could happen. Inadequate funding and poor performance rates were a few of the main contributors to the downfall of 18 public schools over the past decade.

The consequences of improper attention and intervention are clear when it comes to meeting the needs of the public school systems, students and staff. The only thing we can do now is hope that DeVos is up for a challenge.

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