Earlier today, news broke that Donald Trump picked Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education, a position she has accepted. Conservatives who don’t know much about her and are worried about the state of education in the United States can actually breathe easily. DeVos, simply put, is a phenomenal pick.
One of the biggest issues conservatives have been fighting for, an issue we’ve fought for for decades, is school choice. The idea that parents, not some government entity, should be able to decide who educates their children is one of the basic liberties that should be available. Teachers unions and liberal activist groups who favor government having more of a say than parents over their children’s education have long opposed the idea.
DeVos has been one of many at the forefront of this fight. Through her favorable support of charter schools, voucher programs, and other school choice initiatives, she has been an active force in the world of education.
Liberal forces, particularly teachers unions, despise the idea, because money is handed out based on the number of kids that attend their campuses. In the perfect liberal education system, there is no competition. School zones exist to guarantee that the money will regularly come to them. However, if there is competition, through private schools, charter schools, etc., then that money is not guaranteed. Schools will have to produce results and convince parents that their kids should stay.
They don’t like that. They’re okay with the system we have now because school zones still exist, and many of these non-public schools require money to attend – money lower income families cannot afford to spend. A lot of the schools that are most hurt by competition are low performing schools. Several of them are also schools with high minority populations, particularly African American.
DeVos represents a movement that believes all families should be allowed to pull their kid out of a school and sent to another school that provides positive educational growth. That movement infuriates the Left because it takes power and money away from failing public schools. Her stances and her policies are a clear message to the public education world that there is a need for change, and it’s going to come.
Obviously, the biggest worry we can and should have regarding DeVos is her support of the Common Core State Standards initiative. That negative, however, should come with a caveat: What Common Core began as, what it was meant to be, was a set of guidelines for what children at certain ages should know. What it became was weaponized liberal school reform. “Adopt this or you won’t get federal money” was the Obama Department of Education’s way of getting something that was truly meant to start local reform and turn it into a federal education mandate.
DeVos, by her own acknowledgement, was and still is a supporter of Common Core – but as it was meant to be. If she is as into local and state school reform as she says, then this is really a non-issue. However, we owe it to our children to be ready and call out anyone, Republican or Democrat, when they try to weaponize education policy for federal purposes.
Betsy DeVos is a great choice by Donald Trump. How he makes use of her and the Department of Education bears watching, but it shows that there are some things that he can do to surprise us in a good way.