There seems to be a prominent and problematic trend emerging from the ashes of United States politics, more noticeably in education.
Inexperienced individuals with no credentials whatsoever, and a slight problem with self-image, have been elected more and more over the past year. First with our newest president and now with our Secretary of Education.
Betsy DeVos was sworn in to lead the U.S. Department of Education with no prior experience in politics, or most importantly education. She has never held an elected office position and never taught at a public school, but she definitely thinks she has a complete understanding of what the future generations need.
Maybe we should give her a chance. Maybe she will recall some of the problems the school system had when she attended public school, and she will use her new power to fix them. But therein lies the problem: DeVos never attended public school.
To many, the simple fact that DeVos never went to a public school might seem beside the point, but it remains neither her nor her children have ever attended a public school. This illustrates the idea that very few, if any, of the decisions DeVos makes for public education will affect her children and their learning. I think parents across America should be worried when their own secretary over education doesn’t trust the public-school system enough to enroll her own children.
Bernie Sanders, previous Democrat presidential nominee and current Vermont senator, asked DeVos whether she believed she would be in the same position had her family not been multi-millionaires. This brings up a troubling revelation in the eyes of American voters: did DeVos buy her way into office? DeVos’ family, in recent years, has made hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to the Republican Party and, when the confirmation vote was tied 50-50 in the Senate, Republican Vice President Mike Pence was the one to break the tie.
People around the world watched as DeVos was blocked from entering a District of Columbia middle school. The world also watched the backlash of DeVos’ tweet asking the question “now where do I find the pencils?” Robin McCauley Lynch, an educator from Los Angeles, replied to the secretary’s tweet with “at the store. Something you should know: we teachers buy pencils and supplies for our classes with our OWN money.”
As the child of not one, but two teachers, I have seen my parents drive to their classrooms before the sun peeks out over the mountains and come home well after it has sunk below the horizon. I have watched my parents live paycheck-to-paycheck and borrow money so they can buy school supplies for their students. I have seen our refrigerator empty of all food except for a badly-bruised apple and expired milk in the middle of summer.
Over the past couple of years, there has been this spread of ideas that teachers are overpaid for what they do. DeVos, although not necessarily stating she believes the same, is actively trying to fight against the unions that protect teachers. Unions, like the American Federation of Teachers, help to solidify job security and aid teachers in their battle for quality wages. DeVos’ war against unions is basically a full-scale assault on teachers because, without unions, teachers would be left completely unprotected from invasive contracts.
I attack her stance on unions so intently simply because it is the only platform she seems confident in. In interviews and hearings, DeVos has made a habit of outright avoiding the questions asked and dancing delicately around questions that demand for her opinion. It’s not that she’s hiding anything or has malicious intent in not voicing her opinions; DeVos isn’t experienced enough to formulate an educated opinion, therefore she has nothing to share.
DeVos’ election as secretary of the U.S. Department of Education is a great calamity not only for teachers, but also for public schools around the nation. Thank a teacher, read to your children, and learn from the mistakes we have made to grant her this power she now holds over the future of education.