If it’s up to President-Elect Donald Trump, your next Secretary of Education!
To put it mildly, President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks have been met with trepidation by many Democrats. Whether it’s their close ties to Russia or their questionable civil rights records, Democrats have had legitimate concerns over Donald Trump’s cabinet picks.
But then there are picks like Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education. On Tuesday night DeVos had her Senate confirmation hearing and at times she looked to be out of her element when it came to simple questions regarding broad education policies.
So the question remains, who is Betsy DeVos and why is she being tapped as Education Secretary? Let’s take a closer look!
So, Who the Hell is Betsy DeVos?
Betsy DeVos is a longtime member/big money donor of the Republican Party. Her roots in the GOP go deep with her being a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman and her family giving at least $20.2 million (!!!) to GOP candidates since 1989.
Ok, That’s Great, But Why Was She Tapped as Education Secretary?
While Trump didn’t talk much about education policy in the 2016 presidential election, he did however talk about the idea of “school choice” (ie supporting charter schools and voucher programs) on the campaign trail. So if he wanted to push on expanding the idea of school choice, then in that sense, the pick of DeVos as his Secretary of Education would be logical considering she has been an ardent supporter of school choice for many years.
What Makes Her Such a “Ardent Supporter” of School Choice?
Well, she served as chairwoman of the board of Alliance for School Choice (a group that advocates School Choice legislation) and was the founder of All Children Matter (a PAC that gives money and support to candidates that support School Choice initiatives). For the majority of her career, she has pushed for charter schools and voucher programs, making her ideal if you want legislation for School Choice to be implemented at the federal level.
What are Her Other Views on Education That Aren’t Connected to School Choice?
That’s where it gets tricky, because not much is out there. Also you can’t really rely on her past views regarding education policies as a barometer either. Take the hot button issue of Common Core education standards (a K-12 initiative that sets specific math and reading requirements for students). In the past, DeVos was a strong supporter for Common Core, but since her Secretary of Education nomination, she has done a complete-180 and has told conservatives (who generally go against Common Core initiatives) she is now against Common Core standards.
Bigger Question, Is She Qualified to Be Trump’s Secretary of Education?
It honestly depends on who you ask. Many conservatives would say yes, considering she has years of experience in promoting groups and programs that push School Choice initiatives. However, there are those who would strongly disagree with that notion. As opponents of School Choice programs – like Teacher’s Unions – would be quick to point out, DeVos has no real education administrative experience. Considering she is perusing one of the highest, if not THE highest, education administrative jobs in the US as Secretary of Education, it’s understandable why that would be a cause for concern.
Ok Then, Maybe Her Confirmation Hearing Helped Quell Fears?
Yeah… about that… let’s just say it didn’t go so well. Throughout the hearing, DeVos continued to stumble on questions that many would consider to be pretty standard fare. In turn, she came off as not being knowledgeable about basic education standards.
Why, Was Her Senate Confirmation Hearing Performance Really THAT Bad?!?
Here are some specific moments:
+ When she didn’t understand Sen. Al Franken’s question regarding the proficiency v. growth debate, which has been the major philosophical debate among educators and administrators since the implementation of No Child Left Behind in the early-2000’s.
+ When she tried to defend her stance on why some school districts should be permitted to carry guns on school grounds due to the threat of grizzly bears. Nope, that wasn’t a joke…
+ When she didn’t realize that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (which ensures students with disabilities get a free and appropriate public education tailored to their needs) was a federal law.
And trust us, there were many more instances of her not being able to answer questions regarding education policy. Those were just some of the standout moments!
Wow, So That Means She’s Probably Not Going to Be Confirmed as Education Secretary, Right?
No, she’s almost guaranteed to get confirmed as the next Secretary of Education. Even with a bad showing at her confirmation hearing, her views on School Choice lineup with the GOP too well for her not to get the congressional backing of Republicans. Not to mention her family being big donors of the GOP probably doesn’t hurt matters either. However, if DeVos’ confirmation performance is any indication of her effectiveness as Education Secretary, then that may end up being a huge problem!
(Photo Credit: CSPAN’s YouTube Channel, Google Images)