We’ve all been in over our heads at one time or another.
When I began teaching and was pretty sure I knew everything there was to know about English, a student asked me a question about grammar. My answer was so wrong I’m surprised anyone ever asked me a question again.
We’ve all been there—as a student, as an employee, as a leader. Mortification and embarrassment are great teachers…unless your name is Betsy DeVos. (The irony of an Education Secretary who is uneducable is lost on nobody.)
In truth, it would be gratifying if we could recount her inane 2017 suggestion that schools have guns handy for shooting grizzlies and admit, “well, she’s come around.” But she hasn’t. She remains as ill-informed and vacuous as she was a year ago when Mike Pence was forced to cast the deciding vote to confirm her nomination—she was that weak a candidate.
Her recent 60 Minutes interview was pretty much an admission that DeVos’s primary goal is now, and always has been, to eviscerate the American system of public education and replace it with vouchers to advance private and parochial schools.
In her home state of Michigan, public education is faring miserably while billionaire DeVos has pumped millions of dollars into school choice schemes. Moreover, her glaring admission that she has never intentionally visited a struggling school is on a par with her grizzly bear comment.
Like most of us, DeVos has an agenda—has always had it. But hers is inimical to the opportunity of American children to receive quality instruction in favorable settings—justly paid teachers in well equipped buildings. Fortunately, her abysmal ignorance of educational policy and methodology have, up until recently at least, prevented her from doing any real harm. But with the tragedy in Parkland last month and the call to arm educators, and with her refusal to recognize the role of race in school discipline, DeVos has found causes behind which she can rally—ideas that place her in lockstep with another party ignoramus, the president.
There is no mystery as to why the founder of Trump University would have little regard for public schools, or why he would peg someone like Betsy DeVos to be his Education Secretary. Neither is there any mystery as to why all teachers, public-, private-, and parochial-, must work to expose and subvert her policies. A democratized system of public education will not fail simply because other options are available, but Michigan is a good example of how bad things can get when public schools are underfunded and private schools have unlimited resources yet no oversight.
Her own state is a mess, but it’s a Betsy DeVos fantasy world where public education goes to die. For the rest of us, and for the future of America’s children, that fantasy should never see the light of day.