(Jan. 17, 2017) Yesterday's U.S. Senate committee hearing on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education confirmed concerns that she is a poor choice to lead the education of our nation's children.
DeVos has zero experience in public education. She has never worked in a public school. She sent her children to private school. DeVos has spent her career privatizing public education. She advocates that public dollars be taken out of public schools and be used to pay tuition for students attending private schools via vouchers. She is also a strong advocate for charter schools, the vast majority of which are poor-performing and many of which are run by for-profit companies.
"The U.S. Secretary of Education's role is to support and strengthen our valued public schools, not hurt them by expanding poor-performing charters and vouchers," said Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.
"In yesterday's hearing, DeVos refused to commit to holding all schools accountable to the same standards. That is alarming here in Ohio where there are numerous poor-performing charters and several charter operations embroiled in scandal. Our neighborhood public schools should be strengthened with additional resources so that children can learn and grow to their full potential. We fear this will not occur if DeVos is confirmed."
DeVos refused to answer Sen. Tim Kaine's question as to whether all schools receiving federal funding should have the same accountability systems.
DeVos failed to say she would not privatize public schools or cut public education.
In response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, DeVos would not commit to enforcing rules on for-profit colleges that have been proven to cheat students, give worthless degrees.
Warning about grizzly attacks, DeVos suggested guns should be allowed in schools.
DeVos personifies the threat to public education from those who would defund and privatize our schools. She has spent two decades championing the expansion of poor-performing charter schools and vouchers at the expense of our neighborhood public schools.
She has a history of failing to be accountable herself. DeVos owes a record $5.3 million in fines to the Ohio Elections Commission, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The anti-public education organization All Children Matter Inc. was directed by DeVos when it ran afoul of Ohio campaign-finance laws in 2008.
"DeVos should be made to pay the fine," Cropper said. "The fact that she hasn't is one more reason she should not be put in a position of such power."
DeVos’ policies have consistently undermined public schools. Parents want schools where children are respected and nurtured, where there is a focus on the joy of learning and on developing creativity, critical thinking and 21st-century skills—schools that educate the whole child. DeVos’ extreme, profit-driven approach to education policy ignores those aspirations and what’s best for children.
"Our children need a secretary of education who will focus on promoting children's well-being, supporting powerful learning, building teacher capacity and fostering cultures of collaboration," Cropper said.