The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education is an outrageous insult to the millions of people who send their children to public schools, to the millions of students who attend public schools, to the millions of educators who work in public schools and to the millions of people — like me — who graduated from public school.
As expected, the vote was 50-50, and Vice President Pence was called in to cast the tie-breaking vote.
She was never a student, a parent, an educator or school board member of public schools. It is her life’s work to tear down public education. She does not respect the line of separation between church and state. She supports for-profit charter schools.
She is ignorant of federal law, federal programs and federal policy. When asked at her Senate hearing about the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, she did not know it was a federal law. She had given no thought to lessening the burden of debt that college students bear, which now exceeds $1 trillion. At a time when the federal role in aiding students with the high cost of college needs to be redesigned, she knows nothing about it.
As the ethics counselors for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama pointed out, DeVos has financial conflicts of interest which she refuses to divest. She told the Senate committee that she had no role in her mother’s foundation, which has funneled millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations, but her name appears on 17 years of the foundation’s audited tax returns. She told the committee that online charter corporations produce stellar results, but researchers demonstrated with facts that she was wrong.
Choice policies in Michigan have caused the test scores in that state to decline. Detroit, overrun with charters and choice, is a chaotic mess.
It is a sad day for American public education when a person who has repeatedly expressed contempt for public schools is confirmed as secretary of Education.
But there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. Her obvious lack of qualification for the job has created a maelstrom of protest against her. Senators report that they have never received so much feedback about a Cabinet nominee, overwhelmingly negative. Telephone lines were jammed, in some Betsy DeVos Confirmed Despite Massive Protests - BillMoyers.com: