When people heard Betsy DeVos was being considered for U.S. education secretary, there were collective groans from teachers and the public alike. The outcome of the appointment resulted in a senatorial tie, with Vice President Mike Pence providing the deciding vote in favor of confirmation. Betsy DeVos became the official education secretary on Feb. 7.
I will admit, I was quite shocked by the outcome; DeVos has no knowledge of public schools. The Senate might as well have chosen me for the position. My sister is a teacher at an alternative school in Naperville, so I paid attention to this appointment for her sake. Since a lot of her friends are also educators, I wanted to know the opinions of teachers who work in public schools.
“As a special education teacher, it is very hard to see someone in charge when they are unaware of federal laws and confused about IDEA (Individuals with Disabilties Education Act) and all it entails. I am afraid of what is capable of happening to our public school system,” said Stephanie Knutson, teacher at Southeast Alternative School.
As I stated previously, DeVos is not well-versed in public education. She is a businesswoman, not an educator. “Schools are not a business and should not be handled as one. Each and every student in public schools matter and they need someone who is qualified to fight for them, especially in special education. It is sad to see how money has had so much control in this decision,” Knutson added.
This appointment is worrisome for teachers at public schools. They care not just for their jobs, but for their students. “Teaching and education are systems based on compassion and camaraderie in a maze of challenges we all go through together. This woman has not experienced any of this. I feel neither compassion nor camaraderie towards this woman who bought her way in and knows very little of the challenges in education. I teach fourth grade in a low-income public school and am worried for my students who can’t afford the luxury of privatized education,” said Julianne Marie, teacher at Irene King Elementary.
I attended public school my whole life up until attending North Central. I cherish those years, and the education I received from it. I have come this far in my college career because of the public school system. DeVos’ appointment is disheartening, and I can only hope our public school system continues to educate to the best of their abilities.