Get educated about new uneducated Secretary of Education
March 9, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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Nobody would let a freshman in college perform an open-heart surgery on them. In a way, the leaders of this country have done just that.
The problem lies in the newly elected Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. With absolutely no experience with the public education system and plans to defund many programs for the sake of private school vouchers, DeVos won’t do anything but devolve the country’s education system as we know it.
Along with dedicating her life to supporting private education and charter schools, DeVos and all her children have attended private schools. She rejects the effectiveness of public education and takes every opportunity she can to praise and promote school choice.
“…traditional public schools are not succeeding,” DeVos said in a 2013 interview with The Philanthropy Roundtable. “In fact, let’s be clear, in many cases, they are failing.”
Her main goal is to increase funding for private school vouchers and expand the influence of charter schools. The vouchers are supposed to allow a wider range of school choices for students living in poverty by giving these students a good sum of money to pay for those schools.
Already, President Donald Trump has made it a priority to implement a voucher program during his first 100 days in office. Specifically, the vouchers could grant $12,000 in private school tuition to poor students around the nation.
It can be considered an effort to provide kids more educational opportunities. On paper, it actually isn’t too bad of an idea. Giving a student from a low-income family the chance to attend a school they would perform well in would mean the world to them and their family.
Of course, the plan would be an idea if it wasn’t for the fact that all this voucher money has to come from somewhere. The truth is, all that money that funnels into the vouchers and charter school expansion is drained directly from public school funds.
This creates a direct imbalance in the education system with the private and charter side of it gaining the upper hand. Not only that, all of this money drawn away from public schools goes straight into the pockets of private investors who themselves have absolutely no voice within the public education system.
Not to mention that charter schools don’t answer to the public school boards. There’s no voting involved in their board elections because they’re not funded by tax dollars. If charters were funded by tax dollars, charter school families would want their money’s worth and make sure their board members are doing their best.
With the Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, it’s the exact opposite.
“Right now, we’re voting for board members,” said biology teacher Jim Morrison. “If you don’t like what they’re doing, you vote them out because it’s your tax dollars being used. That’s what [DeVos] is trying to get away from.”
Take a school as small as Daniel Pearl Magnet High School. Not only is the school struggling to gain new applicants, but its size places it at a huge disadvantage in the face of budget cuts. Less money equals less teachers, which increases class sizes and makes it harder for students to take classes they want.
Voucher plans are no strangers to California, either. Similar programs have been seen here twice before. In 2000, venture capitalist Timothy Draper advocated for a proposal that would give schoolchildren nearly $4,000 towards private school tuition. He was supported by DeVos.
The proposal was voted against with 71.3% opposition, and DeVos’ attempt in her own state met a 69.1% opposition. However, nearly two decades after, it’s unknown whether a national voucher program will be rejected in the same manner.
If only her confirmation votes had been the same, there wouldn’t be so much worry over the fate of public education. DeVos’ push for voucher plans and goals to privatize education prove that she barely has any idea what she’s doing. She can’t just simply drain the public school system of its money just so it can go to private and charter schools. With no real classroom experience, it’s ironic that someone uneducated about education is the Secretary of Education.