Betsy DeVos: Neither Leader nor Educator

by Ellie Rushing

President Donald Trump has, yet again, allowed an extremely controversial and unqualified individual to weasel past the Senate and steal a very important position. Betsy DeVos is a woman who has never run, taught in, attended, or sent a child to a public school. Incredibly wealthy and religious, she has zero experience handling finances in general, let alone student financial aid, debt, and pell grants. Yet, on February 7 of 2017, she was confirmed as the Secretary of Education.

Her confirmation demonstrates two concepts surrounding money. First, DeVos has proven that with money comes power. Sitting U.S. Senators have received tens of thousands of dollars from the DeVos family. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) received $70,200; Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), $70,200; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), $50,600. These men, along with twenty others, were blinded by greed. Each of these individuals voted in favor of her confirmation. Are you surprised?

The most disturbing concept to grasp is the “donation” accepted by Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio currently has a 100 percent record when it comes to backing all of President Trump’s plans and nominees. The senator ended up being a key vote in the 50-50 deadlock broken by Vice President Mike Pence. Both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, it has been confirmed that Marco Rubio accepted $98,300 from the DeVos family.


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The thousands of desperate Florida citizens and members of the educational community who protested her confirmation to the Senator via mail, phone call, and email basically wasted their time. Rubio walked into the voting room as a puppet, his brain fogged by the scent of money and limbs controlled by the donors. Throwback to when little Marco eloquently stated the U.S. Senators’ intentions on being a “strong check and balance system” on Trump’s policies. That was a good one!

DeVos is not ashamed of her donation history.

My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party. . . I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point.” Said DeVos when discussing the criticisms surrounding her family’s political donations.

When grilled by the Senate during her confirmation hearing, DeVos gave very vague, unprecedented responses. Her ability to protect her corrupt donations is there, yet she is unable to fluently and persuasively defend her plans for the American education system.

The second monetary concept demonstrated by Betsy DeVos involves the money she plans on taking away from public schools. DeVos has spent millions of dollars and countless hours trying to force her home-state of Michigan to replace public schools with privately-run charter schools. She also supports the idea of taking children out of failing schools and providing them with a monetary voucher to attend a private, or charter school.

These vouchers are made of money that comes directly from the failing school—it is a sneaky effort masked by a fancy word with the intent to completely defund schools.

Other than promoting for-profit schools—which evidence shows are no better at educating than public institutions—DeVos intends on pressing her religious views in education reform. She once compared her work in education reform to a Biblical battleground where she plans to “advance God’s Kingdom.” She has financially supported religious institutions—giving $8.6 million to Holland Christian Schools, the Grand Rapids Christian High School Association and the Ada Christian School. All of the schools DeVos graduated from have religious ties, further demonstrating the deep roots she holds within the tradition of Christian reformation.

Controversy has struck recently with DeVos’ statements following her meeting with presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the White House on Monday, February 27, 2017.

In a statement following the meeting, DeVos said:

HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.

Rightfully so, harsh criticisms and backlash swarmed the Secretary of Education. HBCUs were not created as a second option for African-American students to casually choose, they were often their ONLY option for education. Widespread racial segregation and hatred forced these colleges to be opened, and it is completely unjust for DeVos to regard them as anything other than a shameful moment within our country’s educational history.

President Trump followed the meeting with an address about the overall country, including the education system. His speech was more thoughtful than usual, yet his support for school choice and vouchers was blatantly obvious. Trump’s answer to paying for this? Tax-credit scholarships funded by donations made to nonprofit organizations. This would basically allow students to attend primarily private, religious institutions without forcing the federal government to write big checks. The first school President Trump visited within his presidency? St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, a religious institution where many students accept the tax credit scholarship.

Overall, Betsy DeVos’ twisted ideals on defunding public schools are completely supported by President Trump. As the Republican party and the executive branch continuously create loopholes to federal regulations in place, the tax-credit idea would inevitably sway students to abandon the public school system.

Betsy DeVos is not an educator or a leader. She is an entitled millionaire with ignorant, thoughtless remarks, and unjust goals.

She had no credentials to become the Secretary of Education. I guess when you have the money to casually donate $200 million over the years, you expect a decent return. In Betsy DeVos’ case, her return may cost hardworking American teachers their jobs and dedicated children their fundamental right to an unbiased education.

Not impressed with the facts above? Get this. Betsy DeVos believes guns should have a place in schools due to the potential threat of, not terrorists, not school shooters, but GRIZZLY BEARS. How are parents not completely outraged and disturbed by the fact that she didn’t oppose putting guns in our schools? Just like the others, DeVos is just a puppet for Trump’s twisted propaganda.

You would think Betsy DeVos’ lack of experience and sketchy ideals would be enough to make America run the other way. The United States government continues to shock the world and ignore popular opinion by placing clown after clown in office. DeVos should not be in control of federal regulations and monetary supplements for our school children, the future leaders of America. Hide from the people, Betsy DeVos—the united, dissenting public is a far greater threat than Grizzlies.

Ellie Rushing is a sophomore staff writer for The Sandspur at Rollins College, where her piece originally appeared.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer. The Contemporary takes no institutional positions on matters of policy or opinion.

The screen capture above was from CSPAN’s broadcast of Secretary DeVos’ confirmation hearing. This was done in accordance with CSPAN’s policies.

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