In a recent LA Times op-ed, “Why not give Betsy DeVos and school vouchers a try?”
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-ol-le-devos-vouchers-20170218-story.html, Jerry Glass astutely challenges hysterical accusations that Betsy DeVos’s appointment to President Trump’s cabinet is a “threat to democracy”. Although the school system is not an actual democracy, what is more democratic than letting parents and guardians make choices about their child’s education?
As a retired educator, I have taught in public schools and later in my career, in a school of choice. It’s evident that Ms. Devos’ championship of vouchers is a real threat–but only to some tenured teachers who just want to do the minimum and ride out their time till retirement gossiping in the teacher’s lounge. It’s also a matter of money. Failing public schools are terrified of losing funding, and teacher’s unions are scared of losing power. The truth is that when parents have choices everyone wins, particularly the child who benefits from a better investment in his or her future.
Ms. DeVos knows about the importance of investing in education. She and her husband, Dick DeVos, have used their foundation (dbdvfoundation.org) as a vehicle to promote Charter School education. Some notable causes that have received funds are Success Academy Charter Schools and GREAAT Schools, Inc. a management company that oversees Charter Schools.
Betsy DeVos speaks out about the flaws in some of the traditional policies that have left many a child behind in the name of doing the opposite. Education is should be a synergistic cooperative involving all stakeholders.
It’s true that the DeVos’ have donated funds to support private universities and Christian schools, however, they have also supported The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Having served as a board member, Betsy DeVos understands the importance of fostering the arts in education. You don’t have to teach for twenty years to see what is working and what hasn’t in our current system.
The DeVos foundation has also helped support Institute for Justice, a legal firm involved in school choice lawsuits. For too long, parents without private funds have been excluded from making informed school choices for their children. This is particularly true for minority students and children living in disadvantaged conditions. If their schools are failing, something is wrong. We can’t hide our head in the sand and hope these problems sort themselves out. There isn’t time–our children’s futures teeter in the balance.
If we fear honest conversations and unbiased evaluations to our current education system, then Betsy DeVos’ appointment as Secretary Of Education is indeed a threat. If we look ahead to serving 21st-century students in an inclusive setting where teachers, parents and other stakeholders are challenged to do their best, then she is indeed a great choice. Follow Betsy on Twitter.