On February 7, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the new Secretary of Education by the Senate with a majority of 51-50. Two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted Nay on the appointment, which caused Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie and confirm the appointment.
Betsy DeVos has been a long standing supporter of school choice and school vouchers. However, she has no experience in the administration level of public schools, and this has drawn criticism from voters in regards to her eligibility for the role. DeVos has also never been enrolled in public education, which has left many worried of the impact she will have on public schooling over the next four years.
While many conservatives are excited about the appointment of a pro-school choice official, there is still room for worry for some. DeVos’ lack of experience could potentially spell trouble for the quality of education nationwide. Betsy DeVos has a record of promoting private and religious schools at the cost of public education.
Cynthia Parkin, a teacher in Washington County, provided her view on what DeVos means for education in Washington County. While Mrs. Parkin was trying to stay optimistic, saying she hopes that DeVos “breathes new life into education,” she does admit that she wishes the new Secretary of Education, “had some practical experience.” Many within the public education system are extremely worried that DeVos’ lack of experience could pose a major threat to students.
However, Mrs. Parkin does acknowledge the problems that currently exist within public education and hopes that the new Secretary can still bring change. She highlights the lack of success that the system has had recently and believes it is due to “standard testing and accreditation tied to graduation rates.”
Time will only tell if DeVos brings change to the public education system. While public education definitely needs a change, Mrs. Parkin worries that DeVos has “no touch with the real world.”
– James Austin