What Education Might Look Like in the Trump Administration
President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Amway heiress and long-time GOP funder, Betsy DeVos, as his Secretary of Education. Here’s the good news: it appears that Trump is keeping the United States Department of Education (USDOE) despite reports that he would be dismantling it. The bad news is that he has chosen a long-time proponent and fierce advocate of education privatization. There are many views on whether privatizing is good or bad, here is an article on pros and cons on the matter.
Currently, there are 12 states and the District of Columbia that have a voucher program. A voucher program enables parents use to public funds to pay for part or all of their child’s private school education. Depending on how the voucher program could be structured, there are several reasons to be concerned about equity in education under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, who favors these programs. She has a long record of being anti-union, which could cause an intense stand-off between the DOE and the teachers’ unions. I do not see that it will not be contentious. It is highly unlikely that the DOE will not cause serious waves in education with a leader who is pro-voucher and pro-privatization. Finally, if a voucher program is administered, it would require an education effort for parents and families to explain to them how it works so that it doesn’t exacerbate existing inequalities between wealthy and resource challenged families.
Who is Betsy DeVos?
Mrs. DeVos is a billionaire who has inherited her fortune and who has used her amassed wealth to challenge the public education system. She holds no formal degree in education, and as far as we know, she has never attended any public schools, ever. DeVos holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and business administration from Calvin College. Her own children also did not attend public schools, and her basic overall opinion is that she does not believe in or support the public education system. She does support for-profit education, which is different than non-profit education (such as charter schools here in California). And if you have ever being confused or misinformed about the charter schools laws here in California or anywhere else, you will soon see the difference between what public not-for-profit schools are as opposed to private for-profit charters. Betsy DeVos donated $9.5 million to Donald Trump’s campaign.
For several years now, Betsy DeVos has been working hard to push the voucher systems in many states. Her goal and the goals of others like her seems to be to dismantle the public education, its unions and privatize as much as possible so her wealthy and religious right-wing friends can get vouchers to send their kids to parochial and religious school, many of which also discriminate against LGBTQ children and would probably not support the gender neutral school bathroom law that was passed in California.
Michelle Rhee vs. Betsy DeVos
Many were concerned when the news of a meeting between Donald Trump and controversial former Chief of DC schools, Michelle Rhee surfaced. Let’s be clear now: Michelle Rhee is a school choice advocate. She is a proponent of reforming (correcting) public schools and supports increased accountability in our schools and supports public not-for profit charter schools. Betsy DeVos differs from her dramatically. As stated earlier, DeVos is not a fan of any reforms of public schools. In retrospect, we should have hoped for Michelle Rhee instead of Betsy DeVos.
We will be keeping an eye on the appointments in the Department of Education, and we’ll post more information as we get it.
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