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DeVos’s Confirmation and the Fight for Public Education

Think about your educational career. Did you attend public or private school? Did you or do you attend public or private universities? What impact has your education had on your life?

Whether or not we realize it, our education plays a crucial role in our lives. However, the future of public education is on the brink of a crisis. This past Tuesday Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Secretary of Education for the United States. After a tie in the Senate, the vote was left to Vice President Mike Pence, who voted yes to DeVos’s confirmation. This was much to the dismay of the Senate Democrats, who argued that DeVos was unqualified to hold the office. Republican Senators from Maine and Alaska joined Democrats on this side of the issue, claiming too that DeVos was unqualified due to the fact that both she and her family have never taken out student loans and only ever been enrolled in private institutions. Her blatant disregard of the public school systems, in their opinions, makes her unqualified to be in charge of them. Concern was also raised over the fact that DeVos never completed an ethics review before her confirmation.

DeVos’s plans for the Department of Education include dismantling legislation put in place, namely the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and instituting a voucher program for privatized education. DeVos has been quoted as viewing public education as a “dead end,” instead endorsing private education and religious and for-profit schooling.  DeVos has insisted that the Act should instead be “left to the states” rather than be federal law. DeVos’s commercial interests also raise questions of ethics and the possibility for corruption, along with her open support of gay conversion therapy.

Originally from “Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary; Pence Breaks Tie” NYT, 7 Feb, 2017.

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