Education is vital to democracy, and it gives all people an opportunity to advance themselves, no matter their background. These foundations are being challenged in different ways. Betsy DeVos is in this group of challengers.
Trump’s picks have been as controversial as his presidency. Betsy DeVos is just another controversial pick that the American people have to accept since Trump’s power seems to be unstoppable. DeVos is set to lead the Education Department of the United States, and most are looking at her past to anticipate what will come from her department. Her past and values are instilling fear in the hearts of many Americans who care about the educational system. DeVos’ involvement in education started about 23 years ago when she, among others, took it upon themselves to reform Michigan’s public education. She pushed school choice policies throughout the state, but her true goal was to get public dollars for private and religious schools.
Some would argue that she introduced the idea of free-market to the educational system in Michigan. The idea was that these independent schools would introduce different styles of teaching that would later be integrated into public schools, but that did not turn out to be the case. Not long after the policies to enact school choice were enacted, the money for public schools began to dwindle away.
A young mother in Detroit sat in a meeting with leaders in the educational department in her community and heard them say her community’s school was closing. Her school is simply one example of many cases in Michigan where DeVos’ ideals gutted the state’s educational system.
Some might argue that giving people the option of private and religious schools might be a good idea, especially if those school are producing better results than the public educational system has produced. The sad truth is that almost 40 percent of the lowest-performing schools in the state have turned out to be charter schools.
The situation in Michigan has gotten so bad that seven Detroit students sued the state of Michigan for failing to provide basic education and access to literacy. DeVos has not thoroughly responded to her involvement in this debacle, but the evidence of her destruction is evident to those who pay close attention.
Thomas Pedroni, a professor at Wayne State University’s School of Education chimed into the situation regarding education. Pedroni believes that charter schools and religious schools have not done what they have promised, which was to give parents the option of choosing between a good school and a bad one.
The goal of privatized education was not to improve the education that children received but rather to make a profit out of it. Competition was supposed to encourage schools that were performing poorly to improve their curriculum to compete, but what ended up happening was families were given a choice between a bad school and a privatized bad school.
The profit aspect of privatizing education was obvious, especially since those who were interested in pushing these types of schools in Michigan were big businesses and millionaires like DeVos. Another aspect of privatized education that many overlook is its power to destroy unions. There is no doubt that one of the strongest unions in the United States has been the teacher’s union, yet privatized education threatens this union. Many leaders in the educational department would go as far as saying that DeVos’ plan for school is anti-union.
No doubt that education is one of the many things threatened by Trump’s presidency with people like Devos leading the charge to the dismantle what many have already lost in Michigan.