The appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has been a controversial decision, even for the Michigan town that Betsy hails from. The Secretary of Education is expected to, at the very least, have some level of experience in teaching or in working in a public school. DeVos had neither of those things when she was appointed secretary by President Trump.
Background of Betsy DeVos
DeVos was born to a wealthy and conservative family in Holland, Michigan. She’s been an advocate for charter schooling and the use of vouchers, a program that allows public funding to pay for private schooling. Detractors of this kind of vouching system have argued that the money poured into charter schools should be going to poorer schools and that public schools are suffering from a lack of funding because of this system. Nevertheless, DeVos and her billionaire husband have continued to expand charter schools and private education. Much of the private education is dedicated to religious schooling, reflecting DeVos’ Christian background.
Charter versus Public School
Now that DeVos is Secretary of Education, she has considerably more influence into how the U.S. education system is run. This has put her at odds with critics who wish to reform the public schooling system, which is lagging behind in the developed world. Thomas Pedroni, a professor of education at Wayne State University in Detroit, has been one of Devos’ critics, stating that her policies have harmed public education. Pedroni remains hopeful, however, saying that DeVos is such a divisive figure in the education movement that her involvement may end up backfiring.
Criticism Against DeVos
DeVos’ appointment to secretary of education has been troubling, even for the western Michigan town she grew up in. People who known DeVos, including her own family members, have described her approach as, “unprepared,” “insulated,” and “tone deaf.” Many educators worry about the state of the current educational system, and whether it will worsen due to Devos’ focus on vouching. While some people continue to question DeVos’ appointment for the role, others have been more supportive of her convictions. University student Noland Wolffis has expressed mixed feelings over DeVos, saying, “I just question whether she’s right. You can be bad at your job but still a good person.”
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