What’s the matter with…Betsy DeVos?
(“What’s the Matter With” is a new weekly opinion column that will explore the trends in today’s society. These articles can and will be about any range of topics such as education, politics, memes, food and resolutions. These opinions are opinions of the author and the author alone, and do not reflect the larger opinions of the newspaper as a whole.)
Betsy Devos is a CEO, a philanthropist, a meme and, most importantly, the controversial figure Donald Trump nominated as the Secretary of Education in his new administration. While Devos is pending approval by the Senate after Trump’s inauguration, many red flags have been raised about her qualifications and her plans for education.
She was educated her entire schooling career in private schools, both in secondary school and university. Her children never needed loans or grants to assist with schooling, giving her no experience with federal funding programs such as Pell Grants, nor any experience with the FAFSA and what it provides. The lack of experience and the inability of DeVos to explain how the systems already in place work are a painful insight into how misguided her ideas are.
DeVos runs the All Children Matter PAC, which funnels money to Republican candidates who advocate for the voucher system or for state control of the education system. All Children Matter, Inc. broke Ohio law on campaign gifts in 2008 when $870,000 was transferred to Ohio from their Virginia headquarters, resulting in a fine of $5.3 million. After fighting against the fine at the state level, it was ruled that the PAC would have to pay the fine plus an additional $25 per late day. Now, All Children Matter owes $5.3 million and over $91,000 in late fees as DeVos is preparing to join the presidential cabinet.
DeVos advocates for the voucher system in education where private voucher schools accept students who receive a type of scholarship from the government, paying for either 50 percent or 90 percent of the private education. This system has raising red flags among liberal voters and groups such as the NAACP who see the system as a way to completely privatize schooling, leading to systematic discrimination against those in lower income families. On the contrary, advocates of the voucher program point to the lower level of education available in public schools and the already systematic segregation of cities based on income level as a main need for the voucher system.
If a voucher system were to be implemented in the U.S. it is unlikely that there would be multiple choices of schools in each district, meaning students would have a single choice or commit to commuting long distances. While advocates of the program say it is aimed to help low income families receive better education, the lack of transportation to and from the schools would do the exactly opposite. If transportation is complicated for a specific demographic, it stands to reason that that demographic would miss school more often and grades would continue to be lower. Furthermore, voucher schools are private schools by nature, meaning each school would have the ability to terminate a student’s enrollment as the administration sees fit.
For those interested in a successful system of public education, Betsy DeVos and her agenda should be deeply troubling.