Betsy DeVos: Smile, Defer, and Deflect!

Who is Betsy DeVos? I had never heard of her before she became President Elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education. Well, it appears that she has been in the education debate for over 30 years.  She has been called a leading advocate for education reform, and school choice. She’s said herself that she’s doing God’s work.

When Mrs. DeVos went before the Senate Hearing Committee to give the Senate and the American public a glimpse of the powerhouse she is and what education will look like under her management, I was intrigued.  However, after listening to Mrs. DeVos, I can honestly say, I was not impressed.  In fact, I am angered that my children’s educational future for the next four years maybe placed in this woman’s hands. It is evident Mrs.DeVos is not qualified nor interested in the education of our children. At the moment her qualifications seem to be that she can expertly SMILE, DEFER, and DEFLECT

Three things that concern me about Betsy DeVos, besides her keen ability to smile, defer and deflect the hard questions are:

  • Her Qualifications: I am a billionaire, nothing else matters!

The rise to an important position such as Secretary of Education usually comes with an impressive resume related education policy, management and politics. At the least, a candidate should be able to show evidence that they have worked their way up through the trenches, with a list of success stories to back them up.  Mrs. Devos has connections in the field of education as a lobbyist, but has NEVER worked as an educator. Further, neither Mrs. DeVos nor any of her children have ever attended public school. Since the creation of the Secretary of Education position 35 years ago, either the candidate or their children were educated in the public school system.  Being a billionaire is not a qualification.

  • Privatization of public schools: Providing underprivileged children choice in their education (Translation: Help my friends get richer)

Our public school system is definitely crisis, but I am not sure that in today's climate privatizing our schools is in the best interest of our children. Mrs. DeVos is a staunch proponent of school choice, common core and school vouchers, which in on its own can provide our children with opportunities to gain a better education.  However, on the other side, since Mrs. DeVos would not provide an answer on whether she would support the current policies in place that help with oversight. This could lead to unregulated spending and redirection of funds solely to profit the company managing the school.

Test scores at charter schools in my opinion may be increasing, but not at astonishing rates, so why confirm an individual who sole platform is advocating the redirection of public educational funds for profit. Mrs DeVos’s attempts to do this in Michigan were disastrous! I am not willing to use MY child as collateral for those at the top to use education as their new wealth generator.

  • Connections: (or, lobbying for influence!)

Betsy DeVos’s affiliations have raised eyebrows long before she was named as President Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education. The DeVos family and the Prince (her maiden name) family have been large contributors to the Republican party extending back 30 years.  She has ties to the Alliance for School Choice, Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Windquest Group and  American Federation for Children. These organizations push the agendas of the DeVos and Prince family, which at this time seem little to do with education, but more to do with profits.  

Mrs. DeVos’s financial holdings, conservative agenda and political contributions are the main reason why she has been nominated for the Secretary of Education position. Her inability to speak on the issues affecting the public schools of America doesn’t fill me with confidence that she has a true desire to fix them, or that she knows how to fix them. This is a scary prospect. Under Mrs. DeVos’s tenure as Secretary of Education, if confirmed, nothing will change. Our children will continue to suffer and struggle to keep up with the changes that will be are thrown at them. As always, it will be for some else’s benefit.

By Bonita Cochran