Opinion: DeVos needs to serve public schools as well


AFP/Getty Images

Betsy DeVos speaks during her confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on Capitol Hill January 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Emma Dowker, Photography Editor

Although the approval of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was widely anticipated, her official confirmation today proved historically divisive, as Vice President Mike Pence had to vote to break the Senate’s 50-50 tie vote in favor of DeVos.

DeVos, an American billionaire and political campaign contributor, proved to be a uniquely controversial pick for secretary of education, facing criticism from Democrats as well as some Republicans for her lack of experience with public education both professionally and personally.

DeVos not only has been criticized for her ties to private Christian schools and advocacy for private schooling, but also for her insufficient understanding of the “growth vs. proficiency” education debate during her confirmation hearing. There is an intensifying argument in the United States about whether standardized testing adequately measures academic performance among K-12 students, and DeVos will have a huge say in this battle as secretary of education — regardless of her incomplete knowledge on the topic.

Political ideology aside, Americans benefit from a high-quality public education, and it is a fundamental right for the nation’s children to have access to public schools that ensure a quality education. People from all points of the political spectrum can agree that education should not be a luxury, but rather a basic necessity in a functioning society, and the secretary of education should not pose a threat to the same schools she is supposed to represent.

Teachers, administrators, students, and parents should not have to live in fear of budget cuts or inadequate resources for public schools. Education is a vital foundation for prosperity and opportunity, and if Americans truly value growth and intelligence as a society, they will tirelessly push DeVos to ensure a quality education for students in all educational programs.