Our Next Secretary of Education Should Know Education
As Americans we celebrate the ideal that a freely elected president may appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, anyone capable of carrying out his or her vision for the future of our nation. To the victor go the spoils. However, in this week’s first hearing of Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, it became immediately clear DeVos lacks even the most basic knowledge and capabilities required for the responsibility of U.S. Secretary of Education.
The DeVos Senate confirmation hearing did little to inspire confidence that she can competently serve as the chief of our nation’s public education system. In fact, the hearing laid bare astonishing deficits in DeVos’s understanding of the obligations and authority of the Department of Education. She appeared troublingly unversed in significant education issues and ill-prepared on current realities including:
- Confusion around the responsibilities of schools to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the penalties the law applies for failing to meet the needs of students with special needs;
- No clear understanding of and stance on standards of competency—also known as the proficiency vs. growth debate;
- An insensitive approach to issues surrounding guns in schools;
- A lack of clarity on the need to hold for-profit charter schools to the same level of accountability as traditional schools; and
- A lack of clarity on the need to enforce rules that require private career academies to offer students real, marketable skills.
Her inability to assemble the team and dedicate the time necessary to adequately prepare for one of the most predictable parts of the process and the job—the Senate Confirmation Hearing—should be alarming and offensive to Senate members on both sides of the aisle.
DeVos is a well-heeled philanthropist who has championed the expansion of charter schools, school vouchers, and tuition tax Our Next Secretary of Education Should Know Education | Schott Foundation for Public Education: